Healthcare in America is indeed changing. While Americans feel pressured to carry insurance to have services and pharmaceuticals covered, insurance sadly does not support preventative health. In other words, healthcare these days seems to be more reactive than proactive, unfortunately. And that is not a good thing. Essentially, people are not told to take control of their health and made to believe to only go to the doctor only when there is something wrong.
The paradigm in healthcare is slowly shifting. What we see now is more of a new age medicine. But alas, this new age medicine is actually centuries old. Whether we call it holistic medicine, a term derived from the Greek word halos, which means whole OR integrative functional medicine which has its roots in arguably the most ancient and intricate medicinal system in the world, Ayurveda, translated to Science of Life….this is the wave of the future.
For the purpose of this article and to make it simple, I will refer to preventative/holistic medicine as integrative medicine. And I will refer to Westernized/conventional medicine as traditional medicine.
Integrative medicine stresses the synergy of mind, body, and spirit, where everything in the body is dependent upon each other. All the symptoms, whether it be a mental manifestation or physical one, are intricately tied to other imbalances in the body, anywhere in the body. Traditional medicine tends to separate each body system and not emphasize that everything in the body is connected at all levels, from micro to macrocellular.
When patients are sick and tired of feeling tired and sick, they search for more answers. Unfortunately, traditional medicine has shortcomings and restraints whether it be insurance or just the general philosophy of treating the disease and numbers, and not the patient. The principles of integrative medicine are as follows:
- recognition that good medicine should be based on good science, inquiry driven and open to new paradigms
- use of natural and effective and less invasive interventions WHENEVER possible
- a partnership between the patient and physician or practitioner before, during and after the healing process
- consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease
- emphasis on the mind, body, spirit connection
- a philosophy that neither rejects traditional medicine nor uncritically accepts alternative/non-pharma therapies
- use of broader concepts for the promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of existing disease
- training of physicians/practitioners to be models of health and healing committed to the process of self-exploration and self-discovery
- appropriate use of traditional AND integrative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
While traditional medicine not only overlooks how all body systems function and intermingles with one another, it also focuses merely on the elimination of symptoms. Integrative medicine promotes optimal health, and if disease, including cancer, exists, it strives to treat the root cause of the disease process. It is quite simple. The body likes to be at peace. Any unrest will cause it to retaliate. When it does so, different mental and physical issues become apparent.
There are a time and place for pharma drugs and surgical intervention of course, and integrative medicine recognizes that. But what integrative medicine strives to do is to empower patients to be proactive about their mental and physical wellness while teaching them to address the various causes of their disease(s) as they are facilitating lifestyle changes which can include detoxification, weight loss, dietary changes, implementation of exercise, stress reduction, etc. And all these lifestyle changes will be successful when the proper testing is completed, and the root issues are identified and worked upon.
Any disease, cancer, mental or physical ailment, can be addressed through integrative medicine and nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals are the natural supplements such as vitamins, minerals, adaptogens, herbs, bioidentical hormones. Pharmaceuticals are man-made, synthetic chemical substances that are prescribed for various diseases. They tend to have several adverse effects, whether they are short-term or long-term. While pharmaceuticals are certainly justified in certain conditions, they should not be relied upon chronically as they create sick customers, not cures. For example, recent research has shown that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are implicated in kidney disease. These include medications such as Prilosec or Nexium. Instead of taking a pill to “cure” heartburn, which is a fallacy, investigate the root cause of the heartburn. There could be several problems which need to be evaluated and narrowed down. Because what’s the real answer? Starting the PPI and developing some adverse side effects from that and then taking another pharma drug to treat those adverse side effects which then cause additional negative effects…get the gist?
America, unfortunately, has diseases that are generally completely preventable with a healthy lifestyle. America, in fact, ranks as one of the top most obese countries in the world with some of the unhealthiest population in the world. Metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease are skyrocketing. Cancer rates and diagnoses are rising faster than we have seen. For a country that loves its dairy consumption, how is that we have one of the highest rates in osteoporosis? I always recommend patients to watch health documentaries and one of the best to date is Forks Over Knives. The message is clear and straightforward. The documentary outlines why America has the highest rates of the aforementioned disease processes, and the results are enlightening.
What are common issues patients present with to integrative/functional doctors? First of all, their initial complaint is that they are at their wits end with traditional doctors and treatment. Ironically, I am a traditional MD by training, right here in the States. And definitely proud to be one! What started bothering me as a family physician was that I only saw patients getting sicker as I wrote more pharma Rx, and I could not deal with not having enough time to spend with them at the office visit, as 15-20 minutes is not sufficient. Sorry, insurance companies, news flash! I also do not live my life that way. I am proactive and always strive to better than I have ever been, creating a healthier and happier version of my existence day by day.
As a single mother of three boys, I live my life to the fullest, and health & wellness are on top of the list. Being of Eastern-Indian origin, Ayurveda flows through my veins. Ironically, I was born and raised in America and am very Americanized. But I think that Ayurveda was innate, and I relish that. I can quickly grasp how to use nature and the healing propensity of the body to promote optimal wellness and fitness. A few years ago, I opened up a cash-based private integrative practice and fulfilled my passion for helping people who continue to struggle with disease processes and even cancer. As an integrative doctor, I put on my traditional hat when need be.
Apologies for the sidebar. Getting back to the issues that patients present with to integrative physicians, they include weight gain, fatigue, leaky gut, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, loss of libido, depression, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, joint pains, cancer, promotion of existing wellness and the list goes on. Through innovative and in-depth testing, IV therapies, nutraceuticals, hormone balancing, a hypobaric chamber, issues that patients never knew they had are finally brought to light. While addressing adrenal fatigue, gut disorders, micronutrient deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, and showing patients how all these are intertwined, a regimen can be set forth. I always tell my patients that the road to optimal health and aging is slow and gradual. It is a perpetual evolution, to always become better, so patience is required. No instant gratification expectations allowed, as those type of results are unhealthy and more importantly non-sustainable.
My opinion is that Integrative Medicine is on the forefront and is here to stay and propagate. Patients, people, everyone just wants to feel better. It is never too early or too late to start on the journey to health, wellness and fitness. It is not about being or feeling better than someone else; it is about being and feeling better than YOU have ever been. For more information visit http://www.synergistiqhealth.com.