There is no question that in the long run it is more cost effective to prevent illness than to treat it once it happens. It is also more cost effective to use the least invasive procedures and focus on natural healing therapies. However, working preventatively, using the least invasive techniques, and focusing on natural treatments still costs money. I often hear from people that they are not sure if they can afford to see a Naturopathic Doctor or other health care practitioner not covered under the medical services plan because it may be too expensive. In this week’s column I will focus on extended health care benefits and discuss how you may be able to utilize these benefits to cover some of your naturopathic medical needs.
Many people are unaware they have some financial coverage for naturopathic medical services through their extended health care benefits with their employer or other insurance provider. If you work in a company or business with more than 10 employees you almost certainly have some form of coverage. Many smaller businesses also have coverage. Most extended benefit plans will in part cover medical care services like dentistry, chiropractic, massage, physiotherapy, orthotics, and eye care. Unfortunately, far too many employees are unaware of the exact coverage they have.
If you are self employed you may still have benefits through your insurance provider. Many insurance plans don’t just cover employees but cover the owner as well. If your insurance plan does not cover extended medical expenses you may have the ability to deduct some naturopathic and other medical expenses from your income tax. If you are uninsured and currently don’t utilize medical expenses against your taxable income I recommend you discuss your options with your insurance agent or financial planner.
I was inspired to write this article in part because of an insurance agent I recently spoke with. His job is to put extended benefit plans together for corporations and small businesses. He showed me some very interesting conclusions from the insurance industry review that I’d like to share with you.
- The most costly part of any extended health benefit plan is pharmaceutical prescription costs. Pharmaceutical costs are continuing to rise due to the aging workforce and most companies want to reduce this cost by promoting therapies that reduce prescription needs.
- Currently, the most utilized service after pharmaceuticals is massage followed closely by physiotherapy then chiropractics. However, these services are mostly utilized after an injury or illness instead of preventatively.
- Naturopathic healthcare is the least utilized service in the industry in large part due to the fact that people covered in the plan are unaware that naturopathic healthcare has some coverage.
- Preventative medical services like naturopathic healthcare help improve productivity and job satisfaction and actually save companies money over time.
- The corporations and businesses that are most attractive to potential employees tend to have the most valuable and flexible extended health benefit plans. Most employees would rather have the health coverage in these plans than the equivalent cash value.
Extended health care benefits are often overlooked by insured individuals. I encourage you to contact your provider and investigate your coverage. Many plans have some financial coverage not just for naturopathic healthcare but many other medical services like orthotics, dentistry, and eye care. Most plans operate on a calendar year from Jan 1st to Dec 31st. Therefore, for many people there are about two months left to utilize your 2014 benefits before they refresh for 2015.
Better utilizing your entitled benefits may go a long way to improve your health and quality of life. Extended benefits are part of your financial compensation and they were put together for employees to utilize them. If you have any doubts about utilizing your benefits remember that both you and your employer benefit from a healthier you.
The adrenal glands are the organs in the body most susceptible to the negative consequences of stress. As they wear down and fatigue the health of the overall body declines and healing becomes more and more difficult. Therefore, it is very important to identify adrenal fatigue or exhaustion and support the adrenal glands to recovery. There are several different botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and glandulars that can be used to successfully restore the health of the adrenal glands.
Adaptogenic botanicals like licorice, ashwaganda, ginseng, schizandra, wild oat, and macca are often used alone or in combination to support the optimal function of the adrenals. These herbal remedies have been used for decades with very safe and effective track records. I recommend a combination product as it seems that adaptogenic herbs work best for most people in combination.
The B complex vitamins are crucial for cellular metabolism and energy production. In fact, the B vitamins are required to produce energy as part of the citric acid cycle. The adrenal glands have a high demand for the B vitamins because they are so metabolically active and this demand increases during periods of high stress and recovery.
Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones like cortisol in healthy amounts. During periods of high stress the amount of Vitamin C required by the adrenal glands increases. If vitamin C is deficient during stressful times the body is not able to respond optimally. When vitamin C is deficient in non-stressful times the adrenal glands may actually produce more cortisol because of the stress of vitamin C deficiency.
The adrenal glands are highly metabolically active organs and thus have a high demand for minerals that act as co-factors in the production of energy and hormones. Magnesium is one of the most important co-factor minerals and also happens to be one of the most deficient minerals in our soils. The trace minerals like zinc, selenium, and copper are required by the adrenal glands for energy production.
Glandular extracts provide the raw materials and nutrients required for regenerating the adrenal glands. In fact, they can significantly increase the speed of recovery. It is important to use high quality sources of glandular extracts because of the potential for toxicity.
Intravenous Nutrient Infusions
Intravenous nutrient infusions are one of the most potent ways to supply the adrenal glands with the vital nutrients it needs for optimal function. IV infusions provide nutrients directly into the bloodstream and thus all cells of the body. IVs bypass faulty digestion and metabolism in the liver. Intravenous infusions are a highly effective way to help regenerate the adrenal glands and provide them with many of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients they require.
In this week’s column I will highlight four of the most effective natural therapies for reducing stress and supporting the body’s stress coping mechanisms.
Yoga exercises are a fantastic way to handle stress both physically and emotionally. Yoga usually involves stretching, breathing, and visualization techniques. The combination of these activities provides unique support for stress management. I highly recommend incorporating yoga into your exercise and stress management routines.
Acupuncture is one of the best treatments for stress management. It is a great therapy for tapping into the subconscious component of stress. This is the component of stress that can’t be consciously controlled by thought or exercises like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. Acupuncture is great for helping the body process and let go of old emotions it no longer needs anymore. In fact, it is very common for people to feel weight lifting off their shoulders during and after acupuncture sessions.
Neural therapy is known as “German Acupuncture” and involves the injection of vitamins, anaesthetics, and homeopathic remedies into acupuncture points and scar tissue. It provides many of the benefits of acupuncture like tapping into the subconscious but also adds some other unique therapeutic effects. Neural therapy can restore healthy nerve conduction, shut down unnecessary pain signals, and break down scar tissue. Old emotional traumas are often stored in scar tissue, tight muscles, and nerves. Neural therapy addresses these sites of physical stress extremely well and helps prevent emotional stress from taking a physical toll.
Intravenous Nutrient Infusions
Intravenous nutrient infusions are one of the most potent ways to supply the body with the vital nutrients it needs for optimal health. IV infusions provide nutrients directly into the bloodstream and thus all cells of the body. IVs bypass faulty digestion and metabolism in the liver. The body is designed to obtain nutrients primarily through the digestive tract but there are many situations where intravenous infusions provide great benefit. Sometimes oral supplementation can’t be digested well, doesn’t provide high enough dosage, or can’t be administered fast enough.
In next week’s column I will investigate the natural treatments for adrenal fatigue.
Many of the signs of stress are relatively straightforward and easy to see. In fact, most people inherently know when they are under too much stress. These more obvious signs include feeling stressed out, feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, high blood pressure, anxiety, agitation, heartburn, and difficulty falling asleep. There are many less obvious signs like difficulty staying asleep, headaches, weight gain, difficulty losing abdominal fat, heart palpitations, indigestion, bowel disorders, constipation, diarrhea, abnormal hair loss, acne, and shingles to name a few.
You know that stress is a problem when your mind is occupied with things that your body is not presently facing. When you are thinking about the past or future too much and neglecting the present moment. You also know stress is a problem when you get stressed out by relatively small or unimportant things. Remember the sayings, “don’t sweat the small things”, and “don’t make mountains out of molehills”. If you are doing these things and have difficulty changing it is time to seek help from a counselor, life coach, or physician.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and many other traditional medical philosophies emotions are not seen as good or bad. Since all emotions exists they are seen to serve purpose. In Western cultures, we often think of emotions like anger, sadness, fear, and regret as being “bad”. However, the traditional belief is that these emotions are just as important and functional as “good” emotions like happiness, satisfaction, and joy. All emotions “good” or “bad” have the same potential problems. When they are in excess or deficient they lead to emotional and energetic imbalance.
Emotional imbalance leads to anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders. In TCM philosophy it is important to honor emotions, process them, and then let them go. This prevents us from neglecting emotions and it prevents emotions from lingering. The Traditional Chinese approach to stress management and emotional health can be very helpful for many people.
A good physical exam should look for the signs of stress like high or low blood pressure, abnormal orthostatic blood pressure, the response of the pupils to light, rapid or thready pulse, abnormal hair loss, poor wound healing, and digestive disturbances.
Orthostatic blood pressure is extremely valuable to check. This is the change of blood pressure when a patient goes from seated to standing. When the adrenal glands are able to produce adrenaline appropriately blood pressure increases. However, when the adrenal glands are not working properly blood pressure will drop upon rising.
Blood tests are not very useful for identifying stress. However, certain blood tests can give some valuable information for the health of organs that are often injured with chronic stress. It is very important to investigate the health of the thyroid gland and the conversion rate of thyroid hormones. However, many people who suffer from thyroid conditions do so unknowingly because the proper testing was not conducted.
A thorough thyroid panel includes TSH, Free T3, Free T4, and TPO. TSH identifies how well the pituitary gland is communicating with the thyroid gland. Free T3 and Free T4 identifies the levels of each of these hormones and gives a very good indication for how well T4 is converting to T3. TPO is a marker for autoimmune thyroid disease. The most common form of hypothyroid is autoimmune and it is very important to routinely test for this so that it is not overlooked.
Saliva testing is the most accurate way to identify imbalances in adrenal gland hormones and sex hormones. An adrenal gland panel should include at least 4 samples identifying cortisol levels. This shows the amount of cortisol in the system at 4 specific times in the day and compares your levels to the ideal. An adrenal gland panel should also include DHEA. Low levels of DHEA are a major sign of adrenal gland fatigue or exhaustion and often indicate problems with sex hormone production.
A sex hormone panel can identify the toll stress has taken on sex hormone production. This can be very important for women, especially women looking to conceive or women experiencing menopause-related complications. A sex hormone panel should include estrone, estradiol, estriol, progesterone, and testosterone. Imbalances in any of these sex hormones can be treated with natural agents.
In next week’s column we will investigate the natural treatments for stress management.
Read more Natural Health News articles
- The negative effects of cortisol Sep 9
- Natural treatments for weight loss Aug 12
- Supplementation for weight loss Aug 5
- Fad weight loss plans Jul 29
- Hormones and weight Jul 22
- Exercise and weight loss Jul 15
- Lifestyle changes to lose weight Jul 8
- Nutrition and weight loss Jul 1
- Healthy weight loss Jun 24
- Supplements For Celiac Disease Jun 3
- Neural Therapy for Celiac Disease May 27
- Celiac disease: natural therapies May 20
(Click for RSS instructions.)