Luis Suárez
View from the Top

Integrative Medicine on the Riviera Maya

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 15:32

Q: How did you decide to focus on integrative medicine and why did you decide to do so here in particular?

A: When I was younger I had asthma and I often saw doctors and ended up in hospital. Then one time an acupuncturist treated me and I never had asthma again. It prompted me to study general medicine in Mexico and to specialize in Acupuncture and Phytotherapy. I then studied integrative medicine in the US. This used to be called alternative medicine but that is a misnomer as it gives the impression the patient has to make a choice between the two. This field of medicine has grown the most in oncology. An oncology patient will receive radiation therapy, surgery or chemotherapy. Other techniques are now administered hand in hand with those conventional therapies. Ozone therapy is administered while receiving chemotherapy as it heightens the body’s tolerance to chemotherapy, which improves results. We also aim to improve the patient’s mindset by giving him mindfulness and yoga exercises because a depressed patient has less chance of recovery. These techniques contribute to improving the patient’s quality of life and the final prognosis.

Q: Which are the treatments most in demand and what can they help with?

A: Acupuncture and ozone therapy are the most demanded. Acupuncture can help with many problems like stress, panic attacks and pain, and it has applications in gynecology and pregnancy as there is no need for medicines that may hurt the baby. We recommend acupuncture for almost every patient we see as no matter what ails them acupuncture can help as part of their treatment. Ozone therapy can also be applied for chronic pain and viral infections such as those that are caused by chikungunya and dengue fever.

Q: To what degree have you seen the stigma of alternative medicine reduced in other parts of the region?

A: With all the information available nowadays on the Internet patients are already in possession of an impressive amount of knowledge when they come for a consultation. No matter what the patient suffers from he or she has often already searched for it online and reviewed all the conventional and alternative therapy options open to them. This drive for knowledge and global awakening to the effects of chemicals on the natural environment has contributed to people being more open to these techniques. Mexico has always had traditional medicine, and every mother and grandmother knows how to use herbs and plants. This is a more formalized version of that and it has been very well received. Sadly there are many snake-oil vendors who give this type of healing a bad reputation. I would love for integrative medicine to be officially sanctioned here in Mexico but the discussion is still difficult as most do not realize that it is not a fight. It should be a collaborative effort between integrative and conventional medicine.

Q: How can the integrative movement in Mexico be strengthened?

A: It can be strengthened through the diffusion of information. We need to show that we want to work together for it to be more accepted by authorities such as COFEPRIS. We then need to organize ourselves in a conference and hold an event to gather us all together but sadly there are no resources for integrative medicine. From a normative point of view, the formalization of integrative medicine would allow institutions like COFEPRIS to extend its umbrella over practices that are not yet regulated. We are creating an event ourselves that will take place on October 1st and to our knowledge it will be the first regional integrative medicine event. Unfortunately, it is true the field lacks professionalism. I am lucky enough to go to Europe and North America to attend courses and conferences but not everyone has that opportunity, which results in undertrained people wrongly administering these treatments. The press only reports the cases that went wrong and this tarnishes our reputation.

Q: Where will we see you in the future?

A: We have begun to look into medical tourism as many patients come from abroad looking for this type of therapy. In general, regenerative medicine is expensive and inaccessible in other countries.