I have a son-in-law who’s a general contractor and a skilled builder. A while ago there was a carpentry project that needed to be done at my home, so I went to work. I made 3 or 4 trips to the garage to get the tools I thought would be needed. I measured this and that and fussed around here and there. Then I realized I needed another tool, so I made a trip to the hardware store to get it. While there I saw a couple of other cool things that I thought would make the job easier, so I bought them too.
When I got home, I went back to work fussing here and there and measuring this and that. In the meantime, my son-in-law stopped by. When I saw him I asked, “Can you give me a hand with this?”
He gave the project a quick look, excused himself while he went to his truck and came back with a tool belt on. I stepped aside and within 7 minutes the project was complete, and it looked great!
Why couldn’t I do that?
I’ve concluded there are 3 reasons:
- He had the right tools. (And he knew what the right tools were in the first place. I was just guessing.)
- He had a lot more experience using those tools than I did.
- He knew what was important and what was unnecessary. (I spent most of my time doing things that weren’t required to get the job done.)
And so it goes with health and wellness. It’s about having the right tools, knowing how to use them, and knowing what’s important and what’s unnecessary.
Having the right tools
When I was in acupuncture school, we studied pulse diagnosis. Pulse diagnosis is done by touching the patient’s wrist above the radial artery and feeling the nature of the pulse in 3 different positions. Each position will communicate different information if you know how to interpret the pulse correctly. It’s a great technique and doesn’t require anything more than your touch and your brain, but it wasn’t the tool for me. During my studies, I learned it takes years to perfect the technique and I had already mastered other techniques that gave me the same information. Pulse diagnosis is a tool I left on the shelf.
Through my education and experience, I determined the tools I didn’t need, such as pulse diagnosis, and the ones I couldn’t do without. I am a gadget freak. I like technology, and for that reason have accumulated quite a collection of stuff over the years. I have a lot of options at my disposal, but here are the things I carry around in my tool belt:
- Acupuncture needles – These are not only inexpensive and easy to use, but are also amazingly powerful and fast-acting.
- Homeopathy – Like acupuncture, this form of alternative medicine is also very fast-acting and amazingly effective.
- Essential Oils – These rank with homeopathy for speed of action.
- Massage/Acupressure – Touch is an important part of healing, and touching a patient provides a lot of diagnostic information. You might call it pulse diagnosis of a different kind.
- Herbs – I’ve often said that Chinese herbs are every bit as dramatic as prescription drugs.
- Nutritional supplements – This is a mainstay for me. It takes longer to see results (sometimes a couple of weeks), but it provides the building blocks the body needs to repair.
- ZYTO technology – You knew I was going to say this didn’t you? I use the Elite and EVOX. The Elite with almost all patients, EVOX with fewer, but often.
That’s my tool belt. There are other modalities I often employ, but I don’t use them as often as the list above, which I consider my “can’t do without” group.
Knowing how to use the tools
You don’t have to know how to do everything to be a master. I find great pleasure in watching people do things they have mastered and are passionate about, whether it’s a professional basketball player, a carpenter, and painter (fine art or house painting), health professional, cook, or a mom.
We can’t master everything, so having every tool available won’t do me as much good as knowing how to use the ones I’m most passionate about—which is a valid argument for not overburdening myself with a bunch of stuff just because it’s trendy or sparkly (although I like trendy and sparkly).
I’m comfortable with all the tools in my tool belt because I use them often and I know what I can and can’t accomplish with them. For example, I know ZYTO technology will not provide me a diagnosis (that part is up to me), but I use it to help me ask better questions and to identify patterns that recur from different points of view.
Knowing what not to do
One of the luxuries of functional medicine is that my focus is not on disease; it’s on quality of life. For the most part it’s cash-only which means I don’t have to use just what insurance will reimburse, and I don’t have to practice defensively. I’m not likely to be sued because someone’s quality of life failed to improve.
Sometimes I order outside diagnostic tests, but more often I rely on clinical trials. In other words, after doing my normal data gathering I’ll see a pattern that makes sense and the therapeutic course that is reasonable. Then, in cooperation with the patient, we’ll pursue that course as a clinical trial: “Let’s start here and see if your life improves.”
How will I know if this is working?
Sometimes I’m asked, “How will I know if this is working?”
I’ll explain what I expect to see in the short- and long-run and usually I’ll add, “If you aren’t experiencing improvement within X (it varies) number of visits, then I’m probably not the person you should be seeing.
And then we proceed. If the patient is moving toward our therapeutic goals we continue, tweaking as needed. I’ve learned over the years that this approach is cost effective and clinically effective. The quality of what I provide is more important than the quantity. Mastering the tools in my tool belt is more important than having a bigger tool belt.
You may already have the right tools for your practice or wellness business and know how to use them, but it never hurts to be aware of what’s out there and consider adding it to your tool belt. New innovations are always coming out in the healthcare and alternative medicine industry, and some of these may be just what you need to take the quality of care you offer to your clients to the next level and grow your practice.
About Dr. Vaughn Cook
Dr. Vaughn R Cook is the Founder & CEO of ZYTO. An Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD) and licensed acupuncturist, he has worked in the complementary and alternative medical field for more than 30 years, specializing in applications that integrate Western and Eastern medicine.