Every day, more people are opting for natural solutions for their health concerns. The result is a great opportunity for the chiropractic profession to capture additional share in an ever-expanding market.
Many chiropractors have already recognized the changing economic realities and have taken note of patients’ desires for a more holistic approach to their healthcare. These doctors have successfully introduced nutritional supplementation as part of a comprehensive wellness approach to patient management. They have discovered the link between patients’ nutritional status and their recovery times from injuries, as well as their overall wellness.
Paul Varnas, DC, a diplomate in nutrition, and author of Practical Magic, Ending Fatigue and Restoring Health-Naturally, lectures chiropractors on how to incorporate nutrition into their practices. He says, “The more we learn about neurology, the more sense adjusting sick people makes. If you add some very simple nutrition to your treatments, you have a very effective healing system.
“It’s easy to increase the number of people you can help without disrupting how you practice. Use a simple nutritional approach on most of your patients. The change will be rewarding because you will help your current patients more thoroughly and you will increase your referrals.”
A wellness model that includes nutritional supplementation for your practice benefits your patients. It also benefits your practice, because it breaks you away from the “kinks and strains doctor” typecast.
Keep in mind these facts: Patients are already using dietary supplements. They are just not getting their supplements from their doctors. And many people do not give much thought to their purchases. They assume all nutritional supplements are the same.
However, published data suggests the quality of products purchased in retail venues is often suspect and the quality of dietary supplements varies considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. Patients who read these reports become confused.
You can help your patients make the right choices about their supplemental needs.
Incorporating a nutritional component into your practice can be accomplished easily. If treating musculoskeletal problems is the foundation of your practice, continue treating patients’ symptoms and offer them simple nutrition recommendations. By doing so, you will help your patients, increase your patient referrals and create a separate cash component in your practice — one that is completely independent of insurance company reimbursement.
STICK TO THE BASICS
All patients should follow a basic supplement protocol: a multi-vitamin, essential fatty acids (EFAs), proteolytic enzymes and chondro-protection. Diet alone does not sufficiently supply the nutrients required for overall good health.
• Multi-vitamins. Multi-vitamins are ideal for long-term preventive support as well as a synergist for specific nutritional programs.
The USDA has found that a significant percentage of the population receives well below 70 percent of the U.S. Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin A, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins and the essential minerals calcium, magnesium and iron.
A separate study found that typical diets contained less than 80 percent of the RDI for calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese — all essential minerals. In June of 2002, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) stated, “Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. … It appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”
Ideally, patients should take a broad spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral formula that offers lipid-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and natural mixed carotenoids) in an emulsified form for increased uptake and utilization. An excellent multi-vitamin will contain mixed ascorbates and vegetable culture sources (true non-yeast, whole-food forms) of important trace minerals and antioxidant enzymes.
• EFAs. In societies that consume a lot of processed foods with hydrogenated (trans) fats and artificial ingredients, fatty acid imbalances are common and problematic. The question arises: Which essential fatty acid (EFA) should be recommended to patients — fish oil or flax seed oil? And, what about sources of other important EFAs, such as borage oil or blackcurrant seed oil?
Because EFA deficits generally occur in combination, it makes clinical sense to recommend a supplement that provides a balanced combination of fatty acids. Doctors should recommend an EFA product that supplies optimally balanced, health-promoting EFAs in one easy-to-use capsule. Such a product should include ALA, EPA, DHA, GLA and Oleic acid obtained from the highest quality fish, flaxseed and borage oils.
• Proteolytic enzymes. The most common group of patients visits chiropractors because of symptoms of pain and inflammation. Whether their symptoms result from trauma or overexertion, these patients generally respond well to a quality proteolytic enzyme product.
When you have a patient who is “too hot” to adjust, consider using an enzyme product that supplies proteolytic enzymes derived from plant and animal sources and are high in trypsin/alpha-chymotrypsin.
Proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and supporting healing processes. They should be considered in acute or systemic inflammation, tissue damage, arthritis and even poor circulation due to inflammation or atherosclerosis.
It’s important to note that when using proteolytic enzymes, supplementation should begin as soon as the injury occurs. The patient should take the product on an empty stomach, at least one hour before or two hours after meals.
• Chondro-protective support. Another basic supplement for many chiropractic patients is chondro-protective support.
Products supplying high-quality chondroitin sulfates, either singularly or in combination with glucosamine, have been documented to reduce pain in chronic conditions and to help speed recovery following an injury.
Product quality is paramount. A study conducted by the Maryland School of Pharmacy found the majority of the 32 chondro-protective products tested did not provide what was indicated on the label. Some supplied less than 10 percent of label claim. Of the 32 products, all were purchased from retail venues.
By implementing basic nutritional supplements, you can dramatically improve patient outcomes and their overall wellbeing and enhance the profitability of your practice.
And the addition of a nutritional component will help shift your practice to a model of wellness without disrupting it.
Daryl DeLuca, vice president of Biotics Research Corporation, has 30 years of experience in the development, manufacturing and distribution of nutritional products to the health professional market. He can be reached through his company’s Web site, www.bioticsresearch.com or by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 800-231-5777.