Sep 232010
Authors: Andrew Carrera

The next time you get a bee sting, instead of reaching for a pill bottle, try slapping on an onion slice instead.

“That would make a huge difference,” said Susan Mead, a holistic medicine practitioner of 14 years and author of alternative medication book “Take Back Your Body.”

“But for most of us, it’s going to take that sting away really quickly and mitigate any kind of swelling,” she said.

The culture of holistic medication in Fort Collins is nothing new. Christina Olson, primary acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist for the Center for Oriental Medicine, said that while the medication has been around for “hundreds of years,” it has only existed in Fort Collins for about forty years.

“It’s become a more popular form of recovery starting in the 1970s and ‘80s,” she said, commenting later on its vibrant local market.
This is reflected in the fact that there are more than 27 different clinics and wellness centers in the area that offer clients alternative ways of curing ailments.

Instead of prescribing pharmaceutical drugs, practitioners prepare and sometimes administer a selected group of medicinal herbs and or acupuncture treatment.

But is it a legitimate alternative to pharmaceuticals?

To Jason Barker, N.D., owner of Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine and CSU alumnus, it depends on the situation.

“If somebody has stomach pain, we can give them an herb or an amino acid then we can get them really rapid relief, similar to a prescription drug,” he said. “But we always take into consideration if they have a more serious health condition that would require referral to a specialist.”

Advocates of alternative medicine assert that it is not only safe but also safer than mainstream medicine.

“160,000 people die every year from drug interaction and mistakes made with pharmaceuticals interacting improperly in the hospitals and outside the hospitals,” Mead said. “Do we hear much about that? No.”

Mead asserts that only one person dies annually from the incorrect consumption of medicinal herbs.

“And that’s usually because they were misguided or not guided at all and didn’t take the herb or medication correctly,” she said.
Individuals who embrace holistic medication often speak of its practical uses.

Terry Fox, licensed acupuncturist, said that when student clients come to his office at Artesian Spring Oriental Medicine Clinic seeking hangover treatment, he gives them a prescription of Chinese medicinal herbs.

“My personal favorite usually runs about $6.60 per bottle,” he said.

Some prescriptions of nettle tea are furthermore known to have 13 different types of vitamins the body loses in the day-to-day grind, perhaps a far more appealing alternative to taking a handful of pills to get the same effect.

But alternative medication is seen by critics as too time consuming to partake in. Mead explains that brown rice, a food rich in necessary nutrients, takes 50 minutes to prepare as opposed to other rice that are less healthy but only take five minutes until ready for consumption.

The Collegian called seven local doctor’s offices and none expressed distaste for alternative medicine but said if a condition is serious an individual should seek traditional medical attention.

Even the CSU Health Network has providers of alternative types of treatments. However, when it comes to things such as the recent outbreak of strep throat among students, they generally advise individuals to seek antibiotics.

Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at

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