As the health-care system becomes increasingly complex, more people are turning toward alternative forms of care, according to Jane Guiltinan, a naturopathic physician and faculty member at Bastyr University in Kenmore.
Guiltinan spoke to the Shoreline Rotary at the club’s Tuesday, May 24 meeting at Shoreline Center.
“People are asking for it,” Guiltinan said. “This is a consumer-driven market.”
Guiltinan said Bastyr is a pioneer in complementary and alternative medicine, often referred to as CAM.
According to federal definitions, Guiltinan said CAM includes naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine and ayurvedic medicine. also included are therapies such as massage, meditation and homeopathy.
Guiltinan said studies show that 62 percent of adults in the U.S. use CAM in some way.
“The health-care system is in crisis and people are looking for alternatives,” she said.
Because many insurance policies, as well as Medicare, don’t cover CAM, much of the expense is out-of-pocket for patients, she said. It is estimated that in 1997, the patient-paid portion of CAM exceeded that of all U.S. hospitalizations.
Guiltinan said that although many people use CAM as a primary health service, much of the work now is finding ways to integrate it with more mainstream medicine. For example, she said, Bastyr has an arrangement with Northwest Hospital that allows a collaboration between CAM practitioners and the hospital’s physicians.
Guiltinan said Bastyr also hosts a “CAM summer camp” at the Kenmore facility for 30 medical students to familiarize them with CAM and how it can fit into their practice.
Guiltinan acknowledged that more needs to be done in standardizing some areas of CAM care, saying there can be wide variations in the strength of some herbal medicines. She urged people to be diligent in knowing what and how much of any particular remedy is actually being taken.
The Shoreline Rotary meets at noon Tuesdays, at Shoreline Center.