A Natural Approach
There is a multitude of natural and alternative remedies to choose from in the quest for health and wellness.
By Cynthia Adams
The past few decades have seen an explosion in natural and alternative medicine, and Madison County is no exception to this trend. Local residents now have a multitude of natural remedies to choose from in the quest for health and wellness.
Call it greater consumer choice. The natural state of humans should be wellness, say these practitioners of wellness and alternative medicine. And for those suffering illnesses who prefer to go the non–conventional route, a wide variety of treatment options are now available for many conditions for which only conventional treatment has been available.
What each has in common is a strong emphasis on educating their patients and helping them discover the cause of their distress or disease, then helping them find viable solutions to the problem so they can recover and regain their health and quality of life. And while medical insurance will not cover many of these procedures, the Huntsville area has thousands of adherents who are more than willing to pay from their own pockets for treatments that may be out of the mainstream.
For some the quest begins with finding just the right pharmaceutical. Huntsville and Madison are home to several compounding pharmacies, and many feel the patriarch of the clan would be Madison Drugs. After years working from cramped quarters near Jeff Road and Highway 72, compounding pharmacist Terry Wingo moved to Providence, where his clinic, nearly triple in size, dispenses not only custom–blended pharmaceuticals, but a variety of vitamins, food supplements, and other natural remedies.
Wingo began his career more than 45 years ago as a conventional pharmacist, but it didn’t take him long to become disenchanted. “After a few years,” he says, he “became disenchanted with my patients not getting well.” He opened Madison Drugs in the mid–1980s, becoming Madison County’s first compounding pharmacy. From day one his focus has always been on maintaining wellness. Through consultations and customized pharmaceuticals, Wingo works to bring wellness to his hundreds of customers.
He is proud that Madison Drugs is one of only a few Alabama pharmacies with membership in both the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists and the Professional Compounding Centers of America.
Customers typically start with a consultation that may range up to an hour or more. “We try to get at the root cause of their problem,” he says, “and it may involve a change in diet, adding a diet supplement regimen, or compounded pharmaceuticals.” But much of Madison Drug’s business involves working with a patient’s doctor to develop a customized pharmaceutical that will be more effective than conventional, one–size–fits–all remedies.
In addition to being customized for each patient, Wingo says compounded pharmaceuticals typically eliminate allergic reactions that can result from the preservatives and dyes often found in conventional drugs. Getting the medicine into one’s system can be easier, he adds, due to the wider variety of delivery options, ranging from transdermal (absorbed through the skin) delivery to oral suspensions, chewables, under the tongue lozenges, and traditional capsules. “These can make taking medicine much more tolerable and palatable, especially for those with difficulty swallowing.”
Breast cancer has been on the increase in the U.S. in recent years, making periodic breast examinations ever more important. Madison Drugs offers thermography, a non–radiation approach to checking breast health that involves use of a special camera to measure skin temperature on the breast itself. Some women, concerned with radiation used in mammograms, find thermography’s safe, non–toxic heat imaging an attractive alternative.
Weight control has long been a major focus of wellness. Doctors largely agree that obesity contributes to many health problem such as diabetes, heart problems, even cancer. It’s a concern to millions: the latest figures from the National Weight Control Registry indicate about 108 million Americans are on some sort of diet at any given time, and these dieters make about four to five attempts each year. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine projects that by 2030 more than 42 percent of Americans will be obese, adding an estimated $550 million annually to the nation’s already ballooning medical bill.
Weight loss has become a major concern locally, with close to 100 weight loss clinics available in Madison County. The approaches range from traditional dieting to more exotic diets like the Keto diet and Alkaline diet, even intermittent fasting. But local clinics go beyond dieting by providing individualized counseling, weight loss psychology, and even hormone injections to help replace muscle mass lost in crash dieting.
Many in south Huntsville have long turned to Allison Wellness Center for help in losing weight. Co–owners Huntsville plastic surgeon Dr. Bill Alison and wife Christy Alison say their approach to weight loss involves consultation and customized treatment plans. “We’ve looked at hundreds of diet plans and weight loss programs. We look at a patient’s medical history and lab results to come up with a plan to help that patient lose weight,” he says.
It’s widely known that rapid weight loss can often lead to loss of muscle mass. Alison Wellness offers hormone injections to help with that condition. Injections are gaining in acceptance in the growing field of wellness, one that includes not just hormone treatments, but also such exotic concepts as IV therapies. Both are a part of Alison Wellness’s IV Drip Lounge, which can administer not only hormone injections but also what they call the “Meyer’s Cocktail,” a widely renowned infusion of vitamins and minerals for overall wellness.
IV therapy and injectibles offer a number of advantages, says Christy Alison. First, with IV therapy, liquid nutrition is immediately absorbed. Second, IV nutrition can significantly reduce recovery time for those going into surgery. And finally, injectibles can help avoid flu and an unwanted trip to the hospital emergency room during flu season.
Injection Therapy can be very beneficial for quick energy, weight loss and helping overcome vitamin deficiencies. For example, Alison Wellness offers “B” Energized, a B–complex injection important in keeping the brain and nervous system functioning optimally and for the function of red blood cells. B–12, Alison says, is an amazing energizer without the jittery side effects associated with caffeine. Another injectible, Vitamin D is critically important to the functioning of the immune system. In many people, Vitamin D typically drops during the winter months due to reduced sun exposure. They also offer Carnitine, a powerful fat–burner and natural antioxidant that slows down the aging process.
One of the newest technologies coming into more common use is stem cell therapy for pain relief. It’s catching on in Huntsville, with a handful of clinics currently offering this unique treatment option. Sometimes used in combination with chiropractic care, stem cell therapy works by using a person’s own stem cells to regenerate muscle, tendon and cartilage tissue and replace cells not functioning at total capacity.
Regenesis Stem Cell Center has built a growing reputation as the Huntsville leader in this field. Dr. Charles Lee, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana native, began in cardiac-thoracic anesthesia specialist, eventually turning to anti–aging, regenerative and functional medicine in 2007. Shortly afterward, he attained certification in stem cell therapies.
Relocating to Huntsville in 2013, Dr. Lee opened Regenesis to bring regenerative anti–aging and aesthetics to the Rocket City. Preferring not to diversify into other areas, Dr. Lee maintains a concentration solely in Stem Cell and Anti–Aging Therapies and to enriching his patient’s lives.
“Stem cells are the body’s natural repair system,” he says. “If you have been suffering from joint and/or soft tissue injuries, stem cell therapy can often lead to relief and the repair of damaged cells with little to no downtime.”
Specializing in the stem cell treatment of joint pain, Dr. Lee treats everything from torn meniscus or ACL injuries to common arthritis and joints, especially knees, that have not improved as expected from knee surgery. Stem cell treatment, he explains, involves transplantation of a person’s own stem cells into the affected joint, where they reproduce themselves and actually regenerate cartilage or meniscus tissue.
Regenesis has been a pioneer in platelet–rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints.
Stem cell therapy can be combined with other treatment techniques such as chiropractic. At Discovery Chiropractic on Pratt Avenue near 5 Points, Dr. Kathy Cornelius specializes in Integrative Chiropractic care that includes chiropractic care with stem cell therapy for conditions such as back pain, joint pain, headaches and athletic injuries. Discovery Medical also provides weight loss and rehabilitation services.
In light of the current news on opioid misuse, Dr. Cornelius emphasizes that, chiropractic is a non–toxic, non–opioid approach to pain management. And among her patients, she is seeing more and more children from what she calls text neck and text–trigger finger pain caused by too much use of hand–held devices. “This has become a real problem in our modern-tech era,” she says. “Children are increasingly complaining of pain in these area.”
Discovery also addresses other common modern maladies such as carpal tunnel syndrome and sports injuries. Her patients receive functional assessments to determine strength and flexibility, from which customized treatment plans are then formulated.
Regenerative medicine is also among the arsenal of treatments Discovery Medical uses to combat chronic pain.
“Regenerative medicine is a cutting–edge, minimally invasive approach to self-healing. The process involves boosting your body’s healing capabilities, by implanting specialized cells—either from another part of your body or a donor—into your injured tissues. Over time, those cells start regenerating and forming new, healthy tissues. These potent treatments not only heal damaged tissue but help regrow tissue.”
So Madison County residents have choices, and as Huntsville and Madison continue to grow, the number of wellness and alternative medical practitioners will only increase.