Why Cleveland Clinic is now offering herbal therapy

Physicians can now prescribe acupuncture, Chinese herbs

Patients in Ohio are now receiving nontraditional therapies in traditional hospital settings, after the State Medical Board of Ohio decided to regulate Eastern medicine last year, Angela Townsend reports for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Several hospitals have embraced the opportunity, Townsend writes. Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have paved the way, offering acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to certain patients as part of a prescribed treatment regimen. In January, the Clinic opened its Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic as part of its Center for Integrative Medicine.

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Herbal therapy may be prescribed to patients who suffer from insomnia, sinusitis, irregular digestion, and painful cold and flu symptoms, as well as for women who are trying to conceive. The therapy is sometimes prescribed to patients who have exhausted all other options or want to counteract the painful side effects of prescription medication.

"Patients over the years have really been seeking out Chinese herbs and a lot of physicians had been contacting us asking if we used Chinese herbs," says Jamie Starkey, the lead acupuncturist at the Clinic. The needle therapy has proven beneficial for patients dealing with side effects from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Patients come to the Clinic's center through physician referrals only. Once there, staff go over all their medications and symptoms to ensure that the therapy will not interfere.

Having the option to prescribe the therapies is "an incredible step for patient care," says Melissa Young, a Clinic internist, adding "to have more tools to benefit patients really optimizes patient care" (Townsend, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 3/5).


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