Dr. Sciacca also finds that it has been easy to work other otolaryngologists, as well as other health specialists. Over the past 12 years, he and three other individuals spearheaded the construction of a suburban medical complex, which is managed by an outside entity, that now houses a family practitioner, a dentist, a dermatologist, and orthopedic surgeons. I’ve always used a team approach, he said. In his own office, he has had three dietitians working with him in the past five years.
Explore This IssueApril 2008
Unfortunately, Dr. Sciacca has had to forgo that part of his practice because of the one major problem that he has identified with being a holistic physician-lack of insurance reimbursement. Though he sees the value of providing acupuncture as a service and dietitians as part of his staff, the main carrier in his state, Blue Cross, does not adequately provide for those services. Dr. Judkins added, The challenges [of holistic otolaryngology] are minimal. Reimbursement has not been an issue for me, but if I were to start billing for alternative therapies such as acupuncture, for instance, I would likely have problems.
Emerging research on holistic medicine gives hope, however, that this field will become more mainstream-and better funded. Right now, the insurance companies won’t pay for sublingual therapy, but there are worldwide data now that show more than 10 or 100 million doses of sublingual therapy that have been given out with benefit but no single fatal reaction, explained Dr. Sciacca. Pretty soon, he added, insurance companies will have to take notice of this, as more research, especially double-blind studies, comes out. Dr. Sciacca advocates the use of sublingual therapy for allergies not only for its efficacy but also for the ease of dispensing-it is easier for parents and less painful for children to have a few drops placed under the child’s tongue than giving an allergy injection, for example.
Dr. Asher, too, noted the growing literature on holistic medicine, especially in the area of ear, nose, and throat conditions. There are ways to effect changes in the body in a more gradual way, with fewer side effects, that often work incredibly well, and using substances that have been known to have been effective for many years, like a lot of Chinese herbs, he said. He cited one combination of Chinese herbs that was studied by researchers at Weifang School of Medicine in China and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City that was as effective as prednisone for treating asthma.3 Specifically in this study, total IgE levels were reduced, and the inflammatory mediators in the TH2 direction were reduced. Dr. Asher also mentioned that Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a nutritional supplement that is now being used for migraine prevention, has been shown to be effective for tinnitus in some patients who have low CoQ10 levels.4