Guest: Dr. Kathy Gruver
Guest Bio: Dr. Kathy Gruver is host of the TV series; The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. She educates physicians and challenges patients to take control of their health. Offering alternatives to Western medicine, prescriptions and surgery and encouraging the balanced combination of ancient and modern. Involved in natural health for 22 years, educated at Harvard Medical and the National Institutes of Health, earning a PhD. She educates about mind/body medicine, being your own best advocate, massage, reiki, healthy pregnancy, nutrition, homeopathy and so much more. Her first book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet was selected as a winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards and finalist for the IndyExcellence Awards. She has written two additional books, Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and the newly released, Conquer your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques.
Dr. Kathy Gruver talks about Complimentary Alternative Medicine. What it is and how Traditional Medicine can work hand in hand with Massage and other forms of Natural Healing Techniques. Also discussed are choosing physicians, discussions about nutrition and stigma attached to practices or techniques that may not be a part of Traditional Medicine
Health Professional Radio
Neal Howard: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Our guest is Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, licensed massage therapist and author. Her books, “The Alternative Medicine Cabinet,” also “Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworkers,” and her newly released, “Conquer Your Stress with Mind and Body”. How are you doing today, Kathy?
Dr. Kathy Gruver: I’m excellent. How are you?
Neal: I’m doing good. It’s great to have you here with us.
Dr. Gruver: Oh, well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Neal: Good, good. Now, talking about being an alternative medicine practitioner or advocate … what exactly is alternative medicine?
Dr. Gruver: Yeah, alternative medicine is so popular right now. I’ve seen so many people completely disenchanted with Western medicine, they’re having a problem with the allopathic medicine that we’ve all grown up with.
Alternative medicine is simply going back to natural methods or alternative methods of dealing with our health – a lot of prevention, a lot of lifestyle nutrition.
Neal: Okay. You wrote your book, “The Alternative Medicine Cabinet”. What made you decide to write that particular book?
Dr. Gruver: Well, I wanted to be able to share a lot of knowledge with people, and the book is a collection of different natural health information. It starts out really basic, of what are different types of massage and what are homeopathics and what is reiki and things like that. Then it goes really specific, talking about nutrition and mind-body medicine, healthy pregnancy, stress. It’s really just a collection of things to help people be healthy on all levels. I just wanted to share that knowledge with more people than I was seeing one-on-one in my office.
Neal: You know, we hear a lot of … like, say, alternative medicine is becoming more and more popular and people are more interested in it. But why do you think that some people look at alternative medicine as maybe scary or weird or having some type of stigma attached to it?
Dr. Gruver: Yeah, absolutely. Well, it’s still really unknown, and alternative medicine spans the globe, from … getting a massage is considered alternative medicine, and there’s also really weird out-there things. Unfortunately we do have this giant spectrum of what is considered alternative medicine. I can understand why some people would think it’s weird, but also that’s how it’s portrayed in the media. You have these TV shows where they talk about you going to the medicine woman and you’re in some dark backroomsome place.
Dr. Gruver: It’s portrayed that way often in the media. I think that’s really doing it a disservice, because taking vitamins and minerals, exercising, drinking good water, looking at your lifestyle, that’s complementary alternative medicine, and that’s something that we can easily incorporate. It doesn’t have to be scary and unknown. It could be something as simple as adding an exercise and getting a massage.
Neal: Now, when you’re talking about complementary alternative medicine, what exactly does that entail? Is it complementing traditional or Western medicine, or is it consulting with your physician on topics or ideas concerning alternative medicine? What exactly is complementary alternative medicine? I’ve never heard that term before.
Dr. Gruver: Yeah, I think it’s both, and I think that’s what we’re moving towards. I think it’s really bad to take one thing over the other. It’s that, you know, the ‘ying and yang’. There’s a little bit of a black dot in the white section, there’s a little bit of a white dot in the black section. We have to be able to incorporate both of those.
I think the complementary part, it’s complementing what you’re doing with your doctor, but it’s also completing it. It’s taking it to the next level and really giving you full and total healing as opposed to maybe doing some management or not looking at things from all sides. I really advocate the balanced approach of combining the alternative and the Western, thus, the complementary part. I think that’s what the future of medicine holds for us.
I think we do need to discuss these things with our doctors. The unfortunate part is, oftentimes they’re not educated in that type of medicine. So I can sit down and talk to my doctor about herbs, but he has no knowledge of them typically. It’s a hard conversation to have, but I think we need to start having it. They need to know we are interested in this.
Neal: When you’re talking about talking with your doctor and them not being educated on, say, herbs, it seems maybe difficult to talk to someone who has been trained in a traditional medicine, Western medicine, and may already have pre-conceived notions about anything homeopathic or natural. How do you approach a physician who’s already set in his ways?
Dr. Gruver: Right, and that’s a tough one, because I’ve had … I value my western medicine practitioners, but I also tend to pickones that are open to having that conversation. To me, the role of the doctor … you know, doctor is Latin for “to teach”. Really, they’re supposed to be educating us, not just throwing medication at the problem, which is what our medication has become.
They’re no longer educating us. In fact, if we come in with our googled list of the symptoms we have, it drives them crazy – which I totally get. But we have to approach that conversation gingerly and say, “Hey! I have been doing blah, blah, blah. This is working for me.”
If we can really share with them and help educate them that what we’re doing isn’t scary, it isn’t dangerous, we’re coming at it from a very practical perspective and that it’s working for us. I think that’s the conversation we need to have. There are so many people doing things like either using vitamins or massage or reiki or homeopathics, and it’s working, and they’re afraid to tell their doctor.
They don’t want to be judged. They don’t want to be laughed at. They don’t want to be told not to do it, but I think we have to tell them we’re doing this, or else it’s never going to become accepted. We need to share the successes that we’re having with our medical practitioners.
Neal: Is there some type of formula or magic bullet to finding a good practitioner who’s open-minded and won’t judge, or is that just a roll of the dice?
Dr. Gruver: Sometimes it’s a roll of the dice. Unfortunately, so many of us are trapped in a [indecipherable 05:44] there’s insurance, where we can only go to certain providers, we have to have certain referrals. Oftentimes we are stuck in a medical system, and to go outside of that can be incredibly expensive.
Asking for referrals and talking to your doctor and saying, at your first visit, “Hey, you know, I’m really into trying integrative medicine or complementary alternative medicine,” or “I’ve had great experience with acupuncture, chiropractic. How do you feel about that?” If they immediately say they hate what you’re doing, you might want to try a different practitioner.
We don’t have to stick with the same doctor. I’ve heard so many people say, “Oh, he’s such a great doctor.” I say, “Well, what makes him a great doctor?” And they say, “I’ve been seeing him for 25 years.” Well, that means he’s got longevity. [laughs] That doesn’t means he’s a great doctor.
Again, you have to find someone that’s going to listen to you, that’s going to be there for you. I do a lot of talking, Neal, about advocacy and being your own advocate, and asking questions, and communicating with your doctor. We really have to find a way to do that because we’re responsible for our health ultimately.
Dr. Gruver: No one is going to care more for our health than we do. We have to take control of that.
Neal: Absolutely. Now, talking about cancer and alternative medicine, I was reading one article where it was suggested that many of the people, they’ve already been through the chemo, the drugs, the surgeries, the sickness, and now they are finally looking for something to either cure them or make them as comfortable as possible going forward. Is that the norm … do people normally exhaust all other traditional alternatives before going to something that seems to be a lot easier?
Dr. Gruver: Yeah. There’s a huge pendulum swing there. And there seems to be two camps of people on this. I have had clients who have done 100% western medicine. They’ve done the surgery, they’ve done the chemo, they’ve done the radiation, they’ve not taken a vitamin, they have not changed their diet, they have not done any of it.
Then there’s other people who may incorporate some of the western medicine but really want to try the alternative. I’ve had a few people in between, where they pull a little bit of each, but there tends to be that swing of either starting with the alternative and exhausting that or going the other direction. Cancer is so complicated.
Dr. Gruver: It’s which cancer in who? Because things that work for one, it’s just such a – this vast and complicated thing now. I’ve heard people say, “I hope we find a cure for cancer.” And I said, “Yeah, but whose?”
Dr. Gruver: It’s not the same from person to person. There’s so many different factors. But I think, if nothing else, if you’re suffering from cancer – and I lost my mum to cancer. I watched her go through this – alter your diet, lower your stress, and if you’re going to go through the Western medicine options, which are few – I mean, let’s admit it – chemo, radiation, surgery …
Dr. Gruver: Go into it as positive as you can. If you’re going to do the chemo, don’t think of it as, “This is poisoning my body.” Think of, “This is healing my body.” And the surgery, you know, the recovery time and the pain you’re having – it’s not pain, it’s healing sensations. Changing your verbage and your thoughts on what you’re going through can actually change your outcome. Looking at any of your therapies as positive and using those words is really going to be beneficial to you.
Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. Our guest has been Doctor Kathy Gruver, PhD, author. Her books, “The Alternative Medicine Cabinet,” “Body/Mind Therapies for the Body Worker,” and “Conquer your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques” – lots of great information about what alternative medicine is and how it can work hand-in-hand with Western medicine to heal our ailments. It’s been great having you with us here today, Kathy.
Dr. Gruver: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Neal: Okay. I am sure we’ll get an opportunity to talk with you again. Transcripts of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.