KOTO INTERVIEW: Integrative Medicine Offer Relief to Healthcare System
FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSH GEETTER:
Across the county and world, health systems are being stretched thin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While western systems and forms of medicine reach their limits, some are turning to different forms of medicine.
“Integrative medicine is basically the combination of using Western medicine approaches and a number of other modalities for healing” says Dr. Christine Mahoney, Acting Medical Director and Family Doctor at the Telluride Medical Center.
She says those modalities can almost be endless, and include things like mindfulness, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, massage, and nutrition.
In San Miguel County, several practitioners are using integrative medicine to serve the community and support the work of the medical center.
Joshua Geetter is a licensed acupuncturist and a clinical and production herbalist. He focuses primarily on Chinese medicine.
Getter says, “Chinese medicine is the base medical model, which has been used to support the most populous county in the world - for written record for 3,000 years , but really a lot of this was handed down by oral tradition before that, and we have the evidence going back to really contend that it’s probably 10,000 years old or more.”
According to Geetter, Chinese medicine has five main components: diet and nutrition, acupuncture, moxibustion (or the burning of herbs), body work, and meditation.
“What’s most prescient and efficacious for us right now, especially with ‘shelter in place’ and social distancing would be the herbal medicine, which happens to be the standard of care in the ancient Chinese medicine for epidemiology” says Geetter.
Christopher Beaver is a trained homeopath and holistic practitioner, and also uses herbal remedies to support people through sickness.
Beaver says, “homeopathy is a medical system based on the idea that the body is its own natural pharmacy. We look at the individual in its totality. We don’t just look at one single symptom, but we look at the person as a whole.”
Geetter and Beaver have been practicing in San Miguel County for years, but in the time of COVID, they both see the work as a way to support a strained healthcare system.
Beaver says, “These other methods have a great moment to help and to shine, to help alleviate some of the stress and pressure that our medical center - which is doing everything it possibly can, and more, and working tirelessly. I think complementary medicine modalities can actually be very beneficial in a moment like this.”
Dr. Mahoney says when integrative medicine and western medicine come together, there can be a benefit to the community.
“It’s really combining and layering them on top, which can have a profound effect on overall reduction of illness and keeping people healthy” she says.
Mahoney notes there isn’t data that shows certain supplements help prevent, or fight COVID…
“But we do know for viral bronchitis, umcka (which is an over the counter, herbal medicine) that helps with other viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. So we can extrapolate, and say, ‘that’s probably going to be supportive of COVID as well’”.
Geetter and Beaver both provide in person consultations, however, given the stay at home orders, they are currently only providing consultations through telemedicine, or a phone conversation.
“Given a few questions, and little bit of interview, I can asses what’s needed and then prescribe that which is accorded across the world as being the best right now” says Geetter.
He says he draws on protocols developed by hospitals in China and the government to prescribe remedies – some of which he says are common plants and herbs in our area, including honeysuckle.
“Another one of the main herbs that is used is milkvetch root, which is used in the western part of the county as a cover crop, and as a nitrogen fixer. That’s know as astragalus in the Latin, or huang qi in Chinese, and it promotes both proliferation of T-cell generalized immunity, and B-cell specific immunity.” says Geetter.
Beaver points to supplements that help boost the immune system, but he also notes, it’s more than prescribing remedies. He makes sure to note that we’re going through the COVID pandemic as a community, and sometimes simply checking in with people to see how they’re doing is enough.
Beaver says,“It might elevate some of the anxiety or the fears and anxiousness that people might be having, or people might have.”
When it comes to the efficacy of integrative medicine in San Miguel County, Geetter notes the effort from the community to combat COVID provides the perfect atmosphere for different forms of integrative medicine to thrive.
Geeter notes,“The fact that we have a community where we’re already rallying around things like testing, and ‘shelter in place’, we’re already engaged. Because of all this, we have an incredible opportunity to put this Chinese medicine into gear as part of the combine efforts, and really benefit all of us.”
Integrative medicine is an evidence based practice, however it should be used in consultation with your primary care provider.
Beaver is providing his services for free through mid-April. Geetter says he’s in talks with the Medical Center and the County to coordinate care.