Combining Well Care and Sick Care for Hepatitis C
There are two approaches (at least) to nearly every situation – and managing a liver condition like Hepatitis C is representative of this seeming duality. Despite the apparent opposition in maintaining your liver’s well-being versus killing the virus that is harming your liver, a strategy combining the two approaches ends up being most effective. Recognizing the difference between well care and sick care can help those practicing just one strategy to appreciate the value of blending the two together. By integrating well care and sick care into one comprehensive effort, those with Hepatitis C gain a clear health advantage.
According to a 2012 column published in the Eagle Tribune by Karen van Unen, president of the Massachusetts Public Health Association:
- 97 percent of our healthcare dollars are spent caring for people once they’ve become sick
- 3 percent of our healthcare dollars are spent to prevent diseases from developing in the first place
Naturopathic medicine, Ayuverdic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, nutritional medicine and herbal medicine are all considered by most of society to be second-class when compared to modern Western medicine. This is because our current system of healthcare is centered on Western medicine – a field of applied science that primarily cares for people once they’ve already become sick.
Also known as conventional or allopathic medicine, the National Cancer Institute defines Western medicine as a system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Although allopathic medicine is frequently a lifesaver, its emphasis on illness makes it a sick care system.
Over the last half a century, a majority of Americans assumed that anything other than allopathic medicine was considered to be quackery. Through the scientific method, a process by which scientists construct a reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary representation of the human body, Western medical physicians were able to claim their practice as superior to alternative medical systems. If not able to be reliably and consistently scientifically proven, a healthcare method is deemed unworthy. Unfortunately, this process rarely takes into account individual nuances that are beyond the scope of Western medical evaluations.
Because the intention of a sick care system is solely aimed at detecting and removing illness, the success rate is relatively easy to determine; either the treatment succeeded or it failed. When it comes to addressing a Hepatitis C diagnosis, allopathic physicians are focused on killing the virus until it is completely eliminated from the person’s body. Currently, a duo or trio of potent medications constitutes Hepatitis C antiviral therapy. The inability to detect Hepatitis C viral material six months after the end of treatment is considered to be a successful outcome.
A relatively opposite approach to healthcare is one that focuses on wellness instead of disease. Most types of alternative medicine hold the ideal of maintaining health to prevent illness at its core. Many with Hepatitis C find the well care style to be primary in their quest for health. This is especially true of individuals who:
- Did not respond to conventional antiviral therapy.
- Experienced severe, disabling side effects from conventional antiviral therapy.
- Believe that the drugs used to treat Hepatitis C are dangerous.
- Dislike allopathic medicine.
Despite why people choose it, a majority of those with Hepatitis C concur that alternative healthcare methods are superior to allopathic ones in their aim to prevent the worsening of their illness and promote their wellness. In general, alternative medicine focuses on a person’s well-being regardless if the virus is taking up residence in their liver or if it has been eliminated. Whether using herbal therapy, acupuncture, Ayuverda, nutrition, naturopathy or any other respectable type of alternative medicine, the goals for someone with Hepatitis C generally include:
- Strengthening existing liver tissue
- Minimizing toxin exposure
- Easing congestion in the liver by improving congestion
- Quelling liver inflammation
- Encouraging healthy liver cell growth
Depending on the individual, accomplishing the goals described above will typically improve the person’s overall health. Liver enzymes may normalize, energy levels can return, malaise frequently dissipates and an overarching sense of well-being occurs. Over the past decade, an increasing number of scientific studies have demonstrated encouraging evidence of alternative medicine’s value to promoting liver health.
Combining Well and Sick Care
While the well care medical model is ideal for preventing Hepatitis C from getting worse, it is less adept at killing viral particles. For someone with Hepatitis C, the best course of action is to incorporate both well care and sick care into their treatment plan.
A unique strength of alternative medicine occurs when using it alongside allopathic medicine to boost the effectiveness of antiviral therapy. Because antiviral therapy puts an enormous strain on various body structures, many people experience severe side effects from the medications. By simultaneously using a well care method (such as herbal supplements, nutrition, acupuncture or homeopathy) during sick care therapy, the medication-induced stress is mitigated. The outcome is frequently an easier course of antiviral therapy – an outcome that improves the likelihood of achieving the western medical goal of eliminating all Hepatitis C viral particles.
For those who believe alternative medicine is quackery or others who believe that Western medicine is an evil conspiracy, please open your eyes – these two models are simply two different ways of approaching our health. Only by coming at Hepatitis C from both perspectives with well care and sick care can healing from this illness truly advance.
http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?cdrid=449752, Conventional Medicine, Retrieved November 24, 2013, National Cancer Institute, 2013.
http://www.drnatura.com/natural-health/alternative-health/, A Holistic & Natural Approach to Your Healthcare, Ryan Harrison, MA, BCIH, Retrieved November 23, 2013, DrNatura.com, 2013.
http://www.eagletribune.com/opinion/x1647279983/Column-Health-care-vs-sick-car-Why-prevention-is-essential-to-payment-reform, Column: Health Care vs. Sick Care: Why Prevention is Essential to Payment Reform, Karen van Unen and Heather McMann, Retrieved November 24, 2013, EagleTribune.com, 2013.
http://www.marco-learningsystems.com/pages/david-zigmond/medical-model.htm, The Medical Model – Its Limitations and Alternatives, D. Zigmond, MB, CH.B, DPM, Retrieved November 24, 2013, Dr. David Zigmond, 2013.
http://www.thebody.com/content/art14306.html, Keeping Your Liver Healthy, Liz Highleyman, Retrieved November 23, 2013, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, 2013.