Ancient remedies provide modern therapies
People who seek treatment from experts in Chinese medicine are finding it easier to locate the specialists they need, according to one of Grand Junction’s leading complementary health care providers.
The reason is large, nationally respected hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio are relying more frequently on the ancient teachings to treat their patients, said April Schulte-Barclay, founder of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, 2139 North 12th St.
Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine. She uses a variety of herbs to treat complaints, usually mixing the form and combination of the herbs to match the unique characteristics of her patients’ body chemistry.
Schulte-Barclay’s herbal prescriptions might come in the form of a pill, a powder or, in dire situations, a bitter tea that carries an extra healthful wallop.
Some herbs have a nutritional impact. Others cause a curative chemical reaction in the body similar to prescribed medications, she said.
Schulte-Barclay said her apothecary includes about 400 Chinese herbs in various forms, including about 200 in their natural state stored at the practice.
A detailed questionnaire helps Schulte-Barclay diagnose — in terms unique to Chinese medicine — what ails a patient. No two treatments are likely to be the same, she said.
“One of the ideas I most admire about Chinese medicine is its all-encompassing approach to health,” said Joseph Ellerin, who practices Chinese medicine with Schulte-Barclay at Healing Horizons.
“Traditional Chinese medicine has a long and rich history dating back over 3,000 years,” Ellerin said. “Its disciplines encompass everything from Chinese herbal medicine to dietary therapy, acupuncture, and Chinese massage (known as tui na), as well as physical exercises known as tai chi and qi gong.”
Like acupuncture, Chinese herbs address unhealthy body patterns that manifest in a variety of symptoms and complaints, Schulte-Barclay said.
The treatments are not typically covered by health insurance. Also, out-of-pocket payments for such treatments would not normally go toward reducing deductibles under most health insurance contracts, she said.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends Chinese herbal therapy under a variety of circumstances:
■ When a patient has multiple symptoms that are hard to pinpoint.
■ When traditional medical options have been exhausted and nothing helps.
■ When needed as therapy to counteract side effects of prescribed medication.
■ As preventative treatment.
Schulte-Barclay may recommend both acupuncture and herbs to treat infertility, herbs that in the Chinese tradition are necessary to warm a “cold womb.”
“It’s a different nomenclature,” she said. “It’s the Chinese way of thinking.”
At the same time she uses her doctoral training in the Eastern mode of treatment her training in Western medicine helps her identify conditions that may require Western remedies.
One of her patients, for example, was recently seeking acupuncture to treat symptoms related to a pregnancy. Applying her training in health care traditions from East and West, Schulte-Barclay recognized the woman was not producing adequate amounts of the hormone progesterone.
She telephoned her patient’s medical doctor to alert him to the situation. Tests confirmed what Schulte-Barclay observed and adjustments were made that should help preserve the pregnancy, she said.
During the last decade, Schulte-Barclay said she treated dozens of couples for infertility, many times in conjunction with treatments administered by a medical doctor.
The treatments resulted in the birth of about 40 babies in the last 10 years, she said.
Chinese herbs are often useful in rehabilitation for other chronic diseases, too, she said.
Chinese herbal therapy aims to help patients regain “homeostasis, or balance, in the body” and to strengthen its resistance to disease, she said.
For example, herbs can be used to help regulate menstrual cycles if infertility is an issue, she said.
Herbs can also be helpful following cancer treatment to aid recovery from the after-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the Cleveland Clinic.