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Integrative Medicine

 In a breakthrough decision, the American Board of Physician Specialties has recently established a new Board Certification in Integrative Medicine for medical doctors. Why has this new breakthrough in practicing medicine come about and what does it mean for you and your family?  Read on to discover the answer.

Here in the US, we’re constantly searching for that ever-elusive miracle cure for various health ailments. Per capita, we are spending more than double for healthcare, yet, at the same time, experts have found that life expectancies here in the US are significantly lower than those found in other first world countries.

One of the main issues we have with healthcare, here in the US, is the fact that we have gotten into the habit of thinking that drugs and surgeries are the end all be all. In reality, there is no magic pill. Practitioners and patients alike are now seeing that a whole body (holistic) approach to health is an important component to effective care.  Integrative medicine, which combines standard and holistic approaches is growing in popularity by the day, and can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Here’s a more detailed look at integrative medicine.

What is integrative medicine? – Though the term ‘integrative medicine’ is very broad, it primarily works by taking into account all aspects of the patient’s lifestyle, personal circumstances, size, shape, gender, and genetic makeup. It then places an emphasis on building and establishing a relationship between the practitioner and the patient.  Integrative medicine allows the practitioner to see each patient as a living, breathing person. The philosophy of integrative medicine is not a new concept; in fact, it can be traced back to the times of Aristotle. Long before we had high tech computers and scanners, Aristotle was simply able to observe and reflect upon the human condition. One of the very first holistic physicians in the world, Aristotle believed that each person he saw was made up of a combination of spiritual and physical properties, with no separation between the spirit, mind, and body. Sadly, over time, that philosophy had been lost, though not entirely.

The resurgence of integrative medicine – Over the last decade or so, the general public began seeing the limitations of Western medicine. As people are beginning to realize this, they are showing a keen interest in functional naturopathic treatments and therapies which place an emphasis on holistic treatments. Before we had pills, drugs, and surgical procedures, medicine was very much based upon a much more spiritual and natural approach, involving nutrition, botanical and herbal treatments, meditation, massage, and manipulation. These treatments are now once again being discovered, which is why integrative medicine is seeing such a resurgence as of late.

Why is integrative medicine so effective? – As mentioned, integrative medicine works by combining modern, standard medicine with holistic approaches, where patients are seen as individuals, rather than diseases and conditions. It places an emphasis on their individuality and uniqueness. Just because a drug or treatment works for one person, does not mean that the same drugs or treatments will work for another. Integrative medicine stresses the importance of using evidence to understand how best to integrate natural and standard therapies to treat various ailments and health conditions of individual patients.

Integrative medicine does not reject conventional medicine, but at the same time it does not accept it as the be-all and end-all of medical treatment. Integrative treatments are designed to provide the patient with the least-invasive and most effective methods of dealing with whichever ailments they happen to be suffering with.

The key components that make up integrative medicine are as follows:

  • Integrative medicine emphasizes relationships between patient and practitioner
  • Integrative medicine implements complementary methods for the prevention and treatment of various health ailments
  • Integrative medicine removes barriers which could restrict the body’s natural healing processes
  • Integrative medicine uses less invasive, more natural interventions whenever possible
  • Integrative medicine engages mind, body, and spirit in order to facilitate healing
  • Integrative medicine places an emphasis on the fact that healing can always be possible, even if curing is not

Integrative Medicine and patient practitioner relationships – Integrative medicine is about so much more than simply curing a symptom. Instead, it involves a much larger mission as it calls for restoration of the whole person with a focus on health and healing. One key way in which it is able to achieve exactly this, is that it works on the provider-patient relationship. Many of the greatest healers that the world has ever seen, including Aristotle and Hippocrates, would often talk about the fact that the job of a health practitioner was to cure and heal whenever possible, and to support always. To help show just how powerful and effective integrative medicine can be, we’ll now take a look at a couple of fairly recent success stories involving integrative medicine:

Samuel – Samuel, a six year old boy, sadly suffered from severe seizures, often on a daily basis. He saw specialist after specialist, neurologist after neurologist, and none of them could get to the bottom of what was causing his seizures, nor could they treat him. He was placed on medication, he underwent MRIs, and EEGs, and life for the poor boy was anything but enjoyable. He was taken out of school and away from his friends, so not only did his health suffer, but so too did his education. His speech and basic motor functions were severely affected, and his parents sadly began losing hope. His mother was disappointed in the healthcare that Samuel had received, as each session was less than 10 minutes, and he was simply seen, seemingly, as quickly as possible so that the next patient could be seen, and so on. His condition worsened and his mother grew very concerned. Eventually his mother visited an integrative medicine specialist, who took a hair analysis and noticed a high lead toxicity. A lead detoxification was carried out and his seizures began to decrease and become less and less frequent. Eventually he came off all seizure medication and was placed back in school and he began to lead a normal, healthy, and happy life.

Martha – Martha was another patient who suffered from anxiety, stress, depression, and weight issues. She was prescribed diet pills yet her weight increased, which made her more and more miserable. A doctor recommended she visit a psychiatrist, who prescribed anti-depressants that only made her feel worse. Martha also visited a holistic expert who sat down with her and got to know the real her, rather than simply seeing her as another case of depression. The therapist found that some of the root causes of her depression were a stressful job, a troubled marriage, the menopause, and loneliness stemming from empty nest syndrome. All of these factors combined together to lead to hormonal imbalances, which resulted in her weight gain, and mental health issues. Once the cause of these issues was discovered, necessary treatments were prescribed, which helped get her back on the right track and helped improve her overall quality of life.

Jonathan - A mother was greatly disturbed about her 26 year old son. He had just graduated with a masters degree and had come home for the summer, yet he grew quickly incapable of normal speech.  She had taken him from ER to ER and quick care centers.  He was to the point of constant fatigue and sleeping all day long.  Sleep, balance, confusion, and speech problems persisted.  EEGs, MRIs, x-rays, tons of lab tests....none of these revealed his problem.  The mother was relentless in trying to find the root cause.  A simple integrative urine test found mold toxicity to be the root cause.  He was placed in integrative therapies for detoxification and black mold was found and removed from his room/house.  After mold detoxification, Jonathan was completely improved.

These 3 stories are all very common and a day-to-day look into the 'patients of integrative medicine'.  By taking an integrative, holistic approach, we are looking for the most effective, safest route possible in order to knock out the root causes and get people back on the road to enjoying life!  We enjoy working with other specialists and physicians, and do so on a daily basis.

If you have been dealing with problems that you can't seem to find the answer to, or you are wanting to prevent conditions that might be creeping up on you, we recommend that you schedule an appointment ~ we can help!  To schedule an appointment, ask questions, or get more information, you can call us at 941-926-4905, visit our website, or come to one of our upcoming seminars

About Dr. Watts: With a Board Certification in Integrative Medicine and over 15 years of experience using integrative, holistic, metablic, and functional therapies, Dr. Watts has put together an Integrative Medicine Program that has helped thousands of patients.  He has over 35 years experience in surgery and family medicine and holds a post-doctoral certification in Metabolic Endocrinology and  a Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine.