It’s a new year with a new president and potentially new federal health care system for the nation.

While traditional medicine is sometimes driven by what health care insurance companies will cover or not in terms of dollars and cents, the changing nature of health care is good news for patients.

While some local non-traditional physicians still say medical doctors and western medicine overall is wary of their tactics, such physicians feel that patients are more knowledgeable about different options. And the more knowledge the better in healing.

Traditional doctors may still resist the homeopathic route or anything that doesn’t purport western medicine in the form of medication and surgery as answers, but more are opening up to the fact that more patients seem to want other solutions. And this integrative paradigm is a win-win for patients and physicians.

“The patient is searching around among many different professionals. Some are talking to each other; some don’t want that relationship,” says Dr. Kevin Healy, a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist in Madison.

He points out that some traditional doctors are finally acknowledging that peppermint oil might be helpful, for example. Peppermint oil has been known to relieve sore muscles, and has antimicrobial properties so it can help freshen bad breath and soothe digestive issues.

Right now, Dr. Healy says the nation is seeing a sharp rise in ADHD and prescribing medication for it, which manipulate a child’s dopamine levels. Cases and diagnoses of ADHD have increased dramatically in the past few years, according to The American Psychiatric Association says that 5 percent of American children have ADHD. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 11 percent of American children, ages 4 to 17, have the disorder. That’s an increase of 42 percent in eight years.

But Dr. Healy, who sees patients from Massachusetts to New Jersey, says that instead of just prescribing medication, he would like to work with a gastroenterologist, for example, study the blood levels of patients and find out why patients’ dopamine levels are low, which can make someone feel fatigued and have mood swings and memory loss.

He believes that food might be connected to such problems. For example, Peyer’s patches are small masses of lymphatic tissue found in the small intestine. They form an important part of the immune system by monitoring intestinal bacteria populations and preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestines. “I’m a kinesiologist and I could find what food allergens can be inflaming the gut,” he says. “Doctors need to leave the egos at the door and need to acknowledge that we don’t know everything. Use the patient’s nervous system as a diagnostic tool. Try to fix the patient and find out what went wrong in the first place.”

Although medication and surgery certainly have their place and are necessary with many medical ailments, many patients want to rely less on medications if and where possible. Some patients may also tend to seek out alternatives in frustration because western medicine failed them, or at least did not treat their illnesses, but instead just masked the symptoms for a period of time. They can’t lose weight, their hair is falling out, and they have serious digestive problems. No one else can help them.

Non-judgmental medicine

People as far as Brooklyn and across Connecticut come with their children to see Dr. Diana Lopusny, a Holistic Pediatrician in Milford. She calls herself an “integrative pediatrician” who doesn’t NOT believe in western medicine and antibiotics, but gives parents a voice in their children’s health.

“A lot of parents are embracing this integrative life,” Dr. Lopusny says. “We do a lot of homeopathy, we use a lot of herbs, and we support integrative medicine. We use naturopaths and we use chiropractors. We believe in  allowing the body to heal naturally.”

She adds that when children are ready to receive vaccinations, she requires that parents first read up on vaccinations and what ingredients they include as well as side effects. “Parents shouldn’t rely on me solely; they need to be aware of the potential issues,” she adds.

Then, she discusses with each parent if they want all the vaccines, or just some vaccines, or none at all. Dr. Lopusny usually gives one vaccine per month per baby.

“Parents have to know what we are doing with their baby,” Dr. Lopusny says. “We’re a pro-choice and non-judgmental practice. If they don’t want to vaccinate, that’s fine. If they want to do them all, that’s fine. That’s the difference–we help guide parents.”

Time, money

Healthcare spending is expected to reach $4.3 trillion in 2017, according to reports published online.

Non-traditional physicians in the area agree that the western medical system is overbooked. Doctors can’t give patients more than a few minutes during appointments.

Sometimes, they spend more time looking at a computer, reviewing a patient’s medical history and checking off certain medical health codes, which correspond to what health insurance companies would pay for, instead of really listening to the patient’s needs or ailments that day.

To find the best doctors, physicians say patients should call the local hospital. And talk to the head nurse in the intensive care unit or emergency room. Look at testimonials online and consider the medical school of the doctor—is it a reputable school? Also, what kind of feeling do you get? Listen to your gut instinct, Dr. Healy suggests. Some doctors don’t even put their hands on patients anymore. And patients need to ask—”How confident do you feel in their expertise? Are they personable? Are they open minded?”

“I’ve been educating the patient instead of talking over their head,” Dr. Healy says. “I’ve pushed patients to stay loose, stay flexible, and I’ve pushed many patients to yoga and swimming. Chiropractic isn’t everything,”

When MDs take up non-traditional therapies

Noting that patients do want more solutions, some MDs are moving away from the conventional model by bolstering their knowledge with additional training in functional medicine, such as acupuncture or homeopathy. While it’s comforting seeing traditional doctors are acknowledging such benefits, Dr. Healy says MDs should leave the experts to that.

“Even with my extensive education in medicine, I’m not going to remove your gallbladder,” Dr. Healy says. “I like that they are looking and recognizing that they don’t know everything and they see there are benefits to other therapies, but I’m not going to start handing out antibiotics,” he says.

For example, medical doctors might want to push vitamins to patients, which may be helpful for certain conditions. But if a doctor is not an expert, they might not know all the facts.

Take vitamin E, Dr. Healy says. One study found that there were 17 percent more cases of prostate cancer among men who took vitamin E alone than among men who took a placebo, according to the October 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. But the bottom line, from, is that you can be safe taking vitamin E, as long as you take it with other antioxidants. says this: You want to take up to 400 IU of vitamin E with mixed tocopherols, along with other antioxidants such as 100 to 200 mg of vitamin C and/or 50 to 150 mcg of selenium to protect against the pro-oxidative effect of vitamin E. And Dr. Healy pointed out that “a big fad now is Vitamin D.” But he cautions that it’s also fat soluble and in order for it to be helpful, patients must take fish oil with it for the body to absorb it properly. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” he says.

March on Washington

 Aside from the natural path, Dr. Lopusny believes food is underrated when it comes to healing the body. “Most of the time when you deal with skin issues, it’s also a gut issue or inflammation from food,” she says. And instead of prescribing Steroids, which is typical traditional protocol, she investigates if it’s an allergy to a certain food.

She recently had a baby with eczema, whose parents ate a lot of South American foods, including tortillas. Dr. Lopusny first had the mother, who is breast-feeding, and the baby go on a gluten and dairy-free diet.

This diet helped heal the eczema but not completely. Dr. Lopusny then realized it was the corn in the mother’s and baby’s diet that was still causing the eczema. Shortly after taking corn from her diet, the eczema cleared up.

It makes Dr. Lopusny determined to march on Washington, D.C., figuratively, and advocate that medical schools in the U.S. teach about the nutrition/disease link. “Sadly we don’t even have nutrition classes in med school,” she says. “Before I die, I’m going to Washington D.C. and advocate for nutrition in medical school training. Food is medicine–that’s the bottom line.”

Future of medicine

Dr. Lopusny and Dr. Healy agree that integrative medicine is what more people want. And the medical field will move toward the non-traditional approach as people ask for more options.

“This is the wave of the future. We are the pioneers,” Dr. Lopusny says. “I’m going to be in heaven looking down. This will happen because there is no way the world will stay the way it is.”

Angela Pascopella is a freelance writer and works full-time as managing editor at a national trade publication.