Modern medicine’s value is irrefutable; yet, limits exist to the provisions of Western health care.
Mount Pleasant is home to two doctors who practice beyond the bounds of conventional health care. Dr. Erika Blank, an internal medicine specialist at Park West Primary Care, incorporates lifestyle medicine to combat chronic illness. Dr. Christopher Bunt, a family practitioner at Ben Sawyer Primary Care, employs medical acupuncture as a unique defense against chronic and acute pain. Both have provided groundbreaking treatments for Mount Pleasant residents. So what, exactly, are these two distinctive practices?
“Lifestyle medicine is … treating, preventing and reversing chronic diseases with lifestyle behavioral change. This may entail dietary change, physical activity, getting enough sleep or reducing stress,” Dr. Blank said. “It just makes sense to try to treat or prevent these diseases before they happen.”
Like Dr. Blank, Dr. Bunt provided an understanding of acupuncture: “Patients will say ‘I don’t want to be dependent on a pain medication that is going to make me drowsy or inhibit my ability to drive or affect my day-to-day involvement with my kids,’ for example. Acupuncture is an alternative that can provide significant aid for their pain in a real and often quick manner.”
Drs. Blank and Bunt collectively are restoring proper eating and exercise to the forefront of health treatments for their patients, while offering unique solutions to their afflictions. They divert patients from pain medications like the prescription drugs that have led to the opioid epidemic.
“The patients are there for chronic medical problems, and it always seems that there is some part of their lifestyle that they can improve on, discovering different avenues toward health instead of just refilling their prescription,” Dr. Blank said.
Much like Dr. Blank’s desire to guide her patients in a more effective direction other than prescription consumption, Dr. Bunt discussed another value of medical acupuncture: “In traditional Western medicine, I would provide a script, and a patient would have to wait to see if the medication helped. With acupuncture, a patient tells me they’re in pain, and I am then able to perform the acupuncture immediately, and we will know – right on the spot – whether it helps!”
Though Dr. Blank has been practicing in the Mount Pleasant area for only four months and Dr. Bunt has relatively recently begun implementation of medical acupuncture, both have had an impact on the community.
“I can’t recommend Dr. Blank enough!” Mitchell Lichtenberg commented, recounting his “delightful” experience as a patient. “I came in suffering from chronic migraines. Other doctors said, ‘You can take these or those pills,’ but Dr. Blank said, ‘Why don’t we look at something other than just taking medication?’ So we’ve adjusted some of the medication I’m taking. I’ve become more active, and I’m eating better. It truly is working and making a difference in my life.”
Dr. Marcia Clever, a fellow physician and a patient of Dr. Bunt, conveyed her experience with acupuncture: “His suggestion was that I try acupuncture rather than the standard Western treatments that I had already undergone with my hip. I was pleasantly surprised with just how much relief I got. … I even noticed immediate improvement during the procedure.”
She later explained that other treatments had made her hip worse: “Before that, I was sure I was going to have to have a hip replacement. Acupuncture has eliminated my immediate need to even consider having a hip replacement.”
The commitment of these two physicians has helped reform the treatment of their patients throughout Mount Pleasant. The devotion they both have exhibited for their practices and, more importantly, for their patients has led to an exploration into new dynamic health treatments that improve on the strides Western medicine has already achieved. Mount Pleasant and the greater Charleston area are truly fortunate to have two innovators such as Dr. Blank and Dr. Bunt.
By Mitchell D. Watford