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by Glen Depke

For those that have followed me for some time, you likely recognize that I am not the holistic guy that bashes the conventional medical system. What is important to recognize is that there is a time and a place.

What brought up my desire to write this article is the fact that I participated in conventional medicine just recently but undergoing minor surgery. I have actually had a fibrous cyst under the skin in my right armpit for at least 12 years. The cyst itself did not appear to be an issue but the fact that every couple of years or so, this would become infected, swell up and eventually expel the contents within the swelling. Funny, but when my wife first saw this whole cycle she was actually mortified. Likely concerned that this was potentially life threatening. I actually assured her that the body was going through a healing crisis and that all would end well, and it did. The only problem though is that through every cycle, the very small cyst would still remain and it was just a matter of time before I went through another infection, inflammatory response and immune response. Years have actually been spent trying to remove this cyst naturally but this goal was always elusive to me. I can now happily report that removing this infected cyst seems to have provided me with a boost in overall energy and well-being. I truly did not know that this was affecting me in such a way.

So this was my time and my place. The cyst was finally removed and much to my joy, I trust that this cycle is now over.

What are some of the most obvious challenges that conventional medicine is helpful for?

  • Staph infection – If you have a staph infection and your immune system seems to be losing the battle, do not come to me looking for a herbal tincture or homeopathic remedy for this. You can actually die from this and a powerful antibiotic would likely be necessary.
  • Severe pain – At times pain is just too great to work with holistically. There is simply a time and a place when the pain is so bad that a pain relief medication would be recommended.
  • Broken bones – Once again, do not come into our office with a broken bone, get to a hospital or orthopedic doctor to address this.
  • Severe structural instabilities – While most structural issues can be address by a chiropractor or osteopathic doctor, there is a time and place where conventional intervention may be necessary.
  • Pregnancy – While it is obviously not completely necessary to give birth without  conventional care, it is recommended to be under the care of a doctor during this time.
  • Graves disease or severe hyperthyroid conditions – Any time someone has a severe hyperthyroid condition, conventional care is a must. Even when I am working with someone holistically, I insist that they also work with a quality endocrinologist. The chance of the “thyroid storm” and possibility of death is not worth playing with.
  • Auto accidents or similar – One of the best uses of conventional medicine. I always say, “If I am in a car accident, there is not other country in the world I would rather be in.”
  • Required surgery – While this should not be a first case scenario, there is a time when surgery is needed. Simply look at this as a last option rather that a first.
  • Those that have a deep belief in conventional health care – This is important, if you truly believe that conventional medicine is the way to go and do not have confidence in holistic care, you really need to follow your belief. Based on your personal belief, this would likely be your best option.
  • Insurance – If you want your health care or as some refer to as disease management covered by insurance, conventional care is the way to go for most.

With this said, what areas are best addressed holistically? 

  • Chronic disease as a whole – This is an area of expertise for holistic care, because we would look for the cause of your issue rather than treat the symptoms.
  • Autoimmunity – Conventional medicine says there is no answer for autoimmunity and they’re right, there is not a conventional medical answer but there are definitely ways to address this holistically. I see it in our clinic all the time.
  • Chronic soft tissue or structural issues – When these problems are chronic or acute they can typically best be addressed by chiropractic care and soft tissue work. While I am not a chiropractor personally, I do support quality chiropractic care and soft tissue work.
  • Adrenal issues – Short of Addison’s Disease, conventional medicine does not even recognize adrenal insufficiency as a problem. This is a sad truth since I see this as an issue with almost 100% of the clients I work with. To add, I see significant results with regularity but addressing this imbalance.
  • GI issues – Most GI issues are simply diagnosed as IBS these days. Irritable bowel syndrome means there is something wrong with your gut, but they do not know what it is. This can most often be understood and addressed with a quality holistic practitioner.
  • Inflammation – Chronic inflammation or acute also for that matter are best addressed holistically. Again, you are looking for the cause of the inflammation rather than seeing the inflammation as the issue.
  • Hyperthyroid issues – I can say that a hypothyroid issue is rarely even a true thyroid issue. Most are a challenge with adrenals, liver, gut or autoimmune and addressable with holistic care.
  • Infertility – Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on conventional treatment of infertility (often unsuccessful) it is a good idea to look at this holistically. Often there are some relatively easy issues to address that are creating this hormonal imbalance.
  • Those that have a deep belief in holistic health care – This is important, if you truly believe that holistic care is the way to go and do not have confidence in conventional medicine, you really need to follow your belief. Based on your personal belief, this would likely be your best option.

As a Traditional Naturopath there is a certain sequence of events that I recommend when addressing a health issue. 

First is self care. Take care of your fundamentals of health, have fun, enjoy life, don’t stress the small stuff or the big stuff that is out of your control and make you best possible health choices in every moment. If this does not work and develop and ailment of some type, reach out to holistic care. This could be a Traditional Naturopath such as myself, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Rolfer, Acupuncturist as well as a host of other natural therapies. Now if holistic care does not provide an answer for you, this may be the time to reach out into conventional medicine. Remember, there is a time and a place.

One last tidbit to share. 

I had a close friend for years that was a conventional doc, so you can imagine the discussion we’ve had in the past. This particular doc had focus on his own health in a very natural way even though he practiced conventional medicine. One day our discussion became heated in a fun way about the use of a particular drug and my friend told me something that sticks with me to this day. “Glen, what I do is called medicine. What I have been trained in is medicine. What people come to me for is medicine. If they want to be healthy, they come to you.” 

I will never forget those words. Thanks Rob!

There is a time and a place…