New research has apparently found that folic acid supplements delay hearing loss related to aging in low frequency sounds. The benefit of increased folic acid intake from food and/or supplements is especially marked in men over the age of 60. This is good news, as loss of hearing can be socially very isolating for older individuals, as it makes socializing with others more difficult in social situations such as mealtimes when extraneous ambient noise can make it especially hard to discern certain voices or sounds.
Interestingly, in the recent studies, vitamins C, E and beta-carotene do not have benefits for hearing, in contrast with folic acid.
What to Look For
In conventional (local, body part) medicine, the changes that you should expect are control of symptoms or problems in whatever local body part the treatment is targeting. Other changes are typically side effects, undesirable changes in other body parts such as indigestion or blurry vision or dizziness or headaches.
In whole systems care, the changes that you should expect are both general or global and local. Globally, your overall energy and sense of well-being should improve. In general, your dynamics as a system, your resilience or ability to bounce back from symptom flares, minor stressors, and major life events, should improve. With more resilience, the duration of symptom flares should become shorter and less severe in intensity. What shifts is the tendency to express the symptoms, rather than the momentary expression itself.
Pattern of Local Systems
The patterning of the local symptoms that concerned you originally should become less frequent and/or less severe and perhaps even stop happening over time. Additional local symptoms that you had then, but had forgotten to mention in your initial evaluation, may also be lessened or gone.
Furthermore, you may have observed temporary re-emergence of old symptoms that you had forgotten for a while, old behaviors or old physical symptoms. Perhaps you came in for asthma, but then in the course of treatment you notice fewer and less severe asthma attacks but a return of diarrhea that you had many years before. Eventually the diarrhea will fade out, perhaps replaced for a while with a skin rash or an increased tendency to catch colds (a less severe form of disease than your chronic illness flares), which will itself gradually end with the passage of more time.
Course of Healing
In short, the course of healing reveals the wisdom of the body as an intact indivisible system in shifting the manifestations of disease back in time, as though rewinding a stored memory in a tape program and in moving the manifestations from upper body to lower body and from more essential organs (heart, lung, kidneys) to less important organs (skin, mucous membranes). You, as a system, change how you live in your world.
In summary, you are an indivisible living network system that is currently manifesting a chronic disease. The most effective treatment for you is a system-oriented package of options that speak to your highest levels of organization as a system.
With integrative medicine, it is up to you to try out your treatment program and see if it helps you. If a treatment option helps you, stay with it. If it does not lead to improvements in your health or it actually worsens your health, it is time to move on. This sounds simple and obvious, but many people fall into a rut with this aspect of the process.
Look At Your Plan Objectively
Many times, for example, I have seen people with a history of depression whose doctor had put them on a particular antidepressant drug. Even if they were still depressed a year or two later, no one – not the patient or any provider – had questioned whether or not it was time to move on to a different antidepressant drug or even to a different form of treatment.
Somehow having connected the patient with a treatment that was supposed to help, even though it didn’t, was mistakenly seen as enough by everyone involved. People settled for labels instead of results of treatment. This is the kind of situation where it is not enough to “get some help.” It is up to you first, and your provider(s) second, to look objectively at whether or not the help is helping.
A Word about Conventional Medical Drugs
Most people with chronic disease are on conventional medical drugs when they start a fuller treatment plan. Do not stop your prescription drugs before it is time to try to do so or in a manner that is counterproductive – and only make changes under the supervision of a qualified prescribing doctor. Many people – but not all — find that they can gradually lower their medication doses or eventually stop the drugs altogether as other treatments begin to work.
However, it is not safe to reduce or stop your drugs too soon, at a time when nothing else has actually helped yet, unless the risk of doing so is minimal in your physician’s judgment and you agree (e.g., some increased pain or discomfort but not a flare in disease activity or death).
It is also often especially risky to stop drugs suddenly. Drugs are usually suppressing disease activity. Sudden removal of a drug from the body, which likely has generated a compensatory increase in disease activity behind the scenes to fight the drug effects, will unleash unopposed, increased disease activity. This is often dangerous and usually unnecessary.
Use common sense — I have heard of tragic cases of insulin-dependent diabetics, for instance, who stopped their insulin and died in diabetic coma with high blood sugars at the recommendation of an ignorant CAM provider who told them the new treatment would replace the insulin from the start and who misinterpreted the adverse effects of high blood sugar as a temporary healing crisis. It is easy enough to test your blood sugar and see if the insulin requirements go down – then it makes sense to reduce the drug accordingly in collaboration with the physician who prescribed it. If nothing changes, then you still need your insulin at the dose that your doctor originally prescribed.
For most chronic diseases, prioritize your choices. The best way to get unstuck and to heal is to start with and prioritize the two most powerful levels of health care options. These are spiritual and constitutional.
The other key practical decision is to continue your drugs for now, as discussed above. Continue the essential aspects of your biochemical level – i.e., your Western conventional treatment, in consultation with your physician.
So, now that you see the big picture, have chosen your preferred approaches to a personalized holistic health care plan, and understand how to evaluate your progress, what are your next specific steps?
Here is a brief To Do list to get you on your journey of healing. These are only suggestions – again, tailoring the program to your needs is also important. Health psychologists also know that doctors and patients can get paralyzed and take no action when faced with multiple choices. To sidestep decision paralysis, focus on the step-by-step process.
First Steps Action Plan:
1. Write out and review your current choices for treatment options. If you are not sure what to pick, educate yourself as a consumer with one of the resource books, audios, and DVDs listed at the back of this book.
2. Set your healing intention. Put it into words that you write down in a journal, as a screensaver or other reminder on your computer screen, and as an affirmation that you repeat silently or aloud to yourself daily just before you go to sleep.
3. Get more information on the constitutional level of care that you chose – both the therapy itself and the local, regional, and/or national practitioners who offer what you want. Possible ways to find a good practitioner include:
o Use word of mouth from family, friends, staff at other health care professionals’ offices
o Look for small area newspapers or newsletters on holistic or alternative medicine with stories and ads about various providers
o Go on-line with web-browsing to search for official organization websites that list certified and/or licensed practitioners of a specific form of CAM. The Resources list at the back of this book gives you a start on some of the website URLs for these organizations.
4. Meet with your primary care provider and discuss your plans. Explain that you appreciate them and their treatment options, but you are thoughtfully exploring additional options. You want to work with them, openly, to find helpful answers to your health problems.
Many practitioners have ways to accommodate people who travel for their care. If you look for a practitioner who does “acupuncture,” as an example, but you accept whoever is easiest to access — or even cheapest — you may not end up receiving the type of acupuncture best suited to your health care needs.
Make sure to check carefully the credentials, training background, treatment philosophy, and current approaches to practice of each provider you consult. For basics such as professional misconduct, licensing boards in each state can provide information as to whether or not previous clients have lodged malpractice or ethical complaints against a given practitioner.
Research suggests that many users of alternative medicine in Western countries are financially able to afford paying out-of-pocket for the products and services they need for their health care. Increasingly, health care insurers are paying for a small number of alternative medicine services, e.g., for a fixed numbers of visits.