In a previous article, we spoke of the benefits of Integrative Medicine. In short, Integrative Medicine is the implementation of the best of naturopathic principles with that of standard, western medicine. The former is mostly used to prevent and treat mild maladies; the latter intervenes when the progression of disease is advanced and surgery or strong medications are necessitated. Today we are going to talk about Holistic Integrative Medicine.
Holistic Integrative Medicine
In the standard understanding of Holistic Integrative Medicine, we try not to use medications and surgery as the FIRST line of defense against prevention and treatment of chronic or mild issues. Why? Read the previous expert on Integrative Medicine. But in short, we know that all medications have adverse reactions and many times don’t work aside from the placebo effect.
Moreover, meds are commonly prescribed to be used for your entire life with no talk of getting off of them. No talk of true nutritional or lifestyle changes; something that an Integrative doctor, chiropractor, or naturopath would surely discuss.
Case Study #1
Case in point for Holistic Integrative Medicine would be hypertension. Let’s say a 27-year-old moderately overweight man goes to his primary doctor. The medical assistant checks his vitals and sees that his blood pressure is 140/90. This number would be perceived as borderline hypertension.
The doctor tells him of this issue. Either from the behest of the patient or from the wishes of the doctor the patient is put on Diovan, Atenolol, or some high blood pressure drug. The doc might tangentially mention necessary changes to the patient’s diet, but that’s it.
The understanding is that the only way to maintain a lower blood pressure is to KEEP him on these drugs forever. And any time he comes in to have his vitals checked and they are within proper range, it will be attributed to the drugs. For that reason, the drugs will be maintained.
The patient might have some side effects like dry mouth, weight gain, liver issues, sexual dysfunction so the typical way to remedy that is another drug. And so forth, and so forth, and so forth. There is certainly a problem with this paradigm, unless the you are the pharmaceutical rep who provided Diovan to the patient’s doctor.
So as mentioned, drugs should be avoided for prevention and mild issues. That is one of the central tenets of Holistic Integrative Medicine. Use the most benign, least invasive approach. Another central tenet of Holistic Integrative Medicine is TREATING THE WHOLE BODY and not just the symptom. This is extremely important.
In the standard practice of medicine, we treat the symptoms. A person comes in complaining of a new rash, or sore throat, or of reflux or of back pain. We treat it with a steroidal cream, an antibiotics, Prilosec, and Valium. The typical doctor never really considers if this symptom is connected to a deeper problem.
One of the reasons for this lack of connection is the typical doctor visit is approximately nine (9) minutes. How could he/she if that is all the time? Also in that 9-minute span, studies show the doctor is speaking 65% of the time!
Case Study #2
Case in point. Let’s say Debbie, a 22-year-old woman complaining of irregular/painful periods goes to see her gynecologist. The gyno will likely do a physical examination of the vulva, vagina, and perhaps the uterus. But he/she will likely not order blood work. He/she will likely prescribe the woman hormonal contraceptives since that is one of the most common methods to “treat” irregular/painful periods.
A couple of issues with this “treatment.” One, the doctor likely did not tell the woman about the inherent dangers of hormonal contraceptives. The higher rate of blood clots, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, lessening libido, and even breast cancer. So this woman might be taking this drug for years not knowing the risks.
Secondly, the doctor never treated her. She JUST TREATED THE SYMPTOMS. What happens if there is something underlying going on? Like uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, or some hormonal issue with her sex pituitary gland hormones. The woman would never know.
What “time” is it?
This is the fundamental weakness of standard medicine. In Holistic Integrative Medicine, as the word “Holistic” connotes, the Holistic Integrative Medicine docs look at the “whole” body, not just one area which has symptoms. How do they accomplish this?
Longer visits. The Holistic Integrative Medicine doctor will spend 30-60 minutes with you in the initial consultation and close to 30 minutes for follow-ups. They understand the utter importance in getting a full medical history to better “connect-the-dots” to help them find the underlying medical problem, if one exists. They are interested in “whole body, whole mind, whole spirit.”
Look at something as intricate as the microbiome. The microbiome, specifically in our gut, is responsible for assist in the breakdown of food, but also most of our immune system resides there, as well as much of our serotonin is produced there. Many times issues with depression, a weakened immune system, gluten sensitivity and alike might not be traced to dysbiosis in the gut.
The typical doctor will treat the symptom. For example, this person comes in with depression and bloating. The standard doctor will prescribe an anti-depressant and tell the person to lay off beans and other pro-flatulent foods. That’s it! The anti-depressant is loaded with horrible adverse effects (Click HERE to learn about them.) plus they NEVER FOUND THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM. So this person will continue to be debilitated because the doctor never tried to connect the multiple symptoms to make the connection. A Holistic Integrative Medicine doctor would endeavor to do that.
As a reminder most Holistic Integrative Medicine doctors are M.D.s. What makes them different is that they received additional training in their residency or fellowship in naturopathic practices like botanical sciences, clinical nutrition, and alike. Click HERE to find one near you. They are truly the best of the merging of the two worlds.