Column: HMSA now offering option to pick naturopathic doctor
The day has come when you can select a naturopathic physician to be your primary care doctor under the Hawaii Medical Service Association.
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The day has come when you can select a naturopathic physician to be your primary care doctor under the Hawaii Medical Service Association. That’s right, you can either call HMSA and sign up or make an appointment at a clinic with a naturopathic physician on HMSA’s panel, and costs are covered according to your plan. This applies to commercial policies including HMO and PPO but not, as yet, for Quest or Medicare.
Dr. Maile Green, Manakai o Malama’s newest naturopath, is also a highly seasoned registered nurse and an experienced acupuncturist. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians describes naturopathic medicine as a primary health care profession that diagnoses, treats and prevents diseases while focusing on the natural healing capacity of individuals. It works with nature to restore health using modern, traditional, scientific and empirical methods.
Among carriers and physician associations, it is strongly preferred that participating naturopaths work on-site with close collaboration in an integrative setting that also includes an M.D. (doctor of medicine) or a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine). For most of the past 20 years, the clinic has typically enjoyed a naturopath on the team and found great synergies in its effort to bring together the best of modern medicine and traditional healing arts in a culturally sensitive manner to optimize whole-patient outcomes. Central to our team of 50, including conventional medicine, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and sleep medicine, we have observed enhanced outcomes with co-management for primary care patients and injured workers.
Historically, naturopathic medicine has focused on health promotion and preventive care with personalized care plans. So often, chronic disease can be improved by modifying lifestyle factors including sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, tobacco use and substance abuse. Synergies are commonly seen when co-treating for diabetes, weight gain, chronic pain, digestive issues, heart disease, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and cancer palliation.
Naturopathic medicine is also ready for prime time in population management and uniquely poised to prevent disease, optimize health and provide skillful education to improve patient outcomes, quality of care and to affect global health care costs.
In recent years more funding for research on diagnostics and treatment is in the purview of naturopathic medicine. This includes specialized diagnostics, more sophisticated supplement preparations, regenerative medicine including stem cell therapy, personalized genetic medicine, and IV therapies including chelation (a treatment that uses medicine to remove toxic metals like lead, mercury, iron and arsenic buildup in your body that can make you sick).
>> Heart attacks and diabetes: Chelation therapy with EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid) has been shown to prevent diabetes-associated cardiovascular events, according to a recent study (TACT-2). This treatment is now covered by Medicare.
The leading cause of death in modern society is, by far, heart attack and stroke, the result of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. These risk factors, especially combined with inflammation from chronic infection, cause plaque to grow and block the arteries that feed the heart and brain. This is the reason that so many people receive stents and bypass surgery each day.
>> Heavy-metal toxicity from the environment: IV chelation with EDTA is also of benefit in managing some of the health impacts of climate change with respect to heavy-metal accumulation in the body. EDTA chelation has been shown to reduce levels of mercury, lead, aluminum, copper, zinc, nickel, chromium, iron, lead, cobalt, manganese and magnesium.
The oceans now contain increasing levels of metals, especially mercury. At our facility we often test patients who are found, for example, to eat ahi three or more times per week, and find a large portion to have elevated mercury levels. Excessive levels of mercury or lead are associated with fatigue and disorders of the neurological and cardiovascular systems.
Naturopathic medicine is an essential part of a truly integrative, team-based approach to health care and stands to contribute a great deal to preventive, customized lifestyle medicine. The good news is that the people of Hawaii with HMSA commercial plans can now choose naturopathic physicians to be their primary care doctors.