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The Doctors Without MDs: What Makes Osteopathic Medicine Different

If you don’t know what a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is, you’re not alone. According to WBUR, 1 in 5 Americans don’t even know a DO exists, let alone what it means. Specifically, DOs are fully licensed medical doctors who also practice holistic approaches to health care and treatment, aka, osteopathic medicine. Also interesting is that the number of DOs in the U.S. has tripled since 1990, and that 1 in 4 medical students is currently training to become a DO, WBUR said.

As an osteopathic physician myself — as well as someone who is also board-certified in traditional family medicine — I can attest that one of the tenets of osteopathy is to take a “whole person" approach, treating the entire person rather than just symptoms. In short, a DO focuses on preventive health care, and helps patients to develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it, too.

To that end, I can think of no better illustration of how osteopathy works when conventional medicine doesn’t than by sharing with you my own personal story. What I found in this journey is that conventional medicine is excellent at diagnosing disease, but where it fails miserably is in the treatment approaches, which generally address symptoms rather than the cause of whatever disease you’re treating.

Typically, conventional treatments involve toxic drugs. But osteopathy teaches you that there are safer, less expensive alternatives that can truly address the cause of disease. And, invariably, that involves addressing your diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors. My journey includes learning by doing: Experience is a formidable teacher, and much of what I'm teaching today grew out of the lessons I learned as I tried to get healthier. I made plenty of mistakes, and fell for many of the lies, deceptions and confusion of conventional medicine.

The discovery of nutrition as a method of healing, for example, was nothing short of revolutionary for me. It really opened my eyes and gave me a whole different perspective on health and healing. Through the years I’ve also learned whole-life lessons that delve deeply into how to get the best nutrition possible, which triggered my interest in organic, regenerative farming.

And, while I often talk about the dangers of fluoride in your water, mercury in your teeth and pesticides and herbicides on your foods, I always try to be positive with tangible, workable, attainable suggestions and strategies that can help you get healthy no matter what health issue you’re tackling, and no matter what your age.

I would encourage anyone who feels skeptical to really evaluate the evidence and put some of these healthy lifestyle principles to the test, because the ultimate proof for most people is their own experience. My mantra is "Take Control of Your Health," and my goal is to teach you how to get off the merry-go-round of drugs and “on” the road to nutritional, emotional and physical ways of addressing the root cause of disease.