According to WebMD, integrative medicine can be summed up as a “whole-person approach — designed to treat the person, not just the disease.”[i] In fact, while there might be some nonconventional medical therapies used within the integrative medicine approach, the main tenant of integrative health is to implement therapies, both conventional and alternative, to heal the mind, body and spirit. Simply defined integrative medicine takes Western medicine and complements it with natural and alternative treatments including herbal medicine, yoga, stress reduction strategies, massage and acupuncture. Miami Integrative Medicine works with every patient, every day to deliver the most complementary medicine. [i]
Integrative medicine improves overall health because it focuses on a comprehensive approach to health from head to toe. When a health problem is discovered, rather than looking at it from a completely medical perspective, it considers all factors that may have contributed to the condition. Factors include how the mind-body connection can directly influence the performance of the body’s immune system.[i] Taking a comprehensive look at one’s emotional, spiritual and physical health, with an emphasis on the relationship between patient and practitioner, integrative medicine looks for all causes and all cures.
Nutrition is a cornerstone of integrative medicine and thus should be followed to promote optimal health. As part of a maintaining one’s spiritual and mental health, nutrition is another way to complement one’s integrative medicine treatment. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, eating a diet based on integrative medicine principles can both prevent and treat cancer. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, in as many colors as possible, are some concrete recommendations to prevent and treat cancer. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli have a natural chemotherapy type compound. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. Generally speaking, Dr. Weil believes that along with the fruits, vegetables and berries, eating nuts, whole grains, and cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is the best way to complement an approach to integrative medicine.[ii]
Dr. Andrew Weil, consistent with the integrative medicine approach, believes nutrition can only go so far. Hence, there is a need for the complementary approach found with integrative medicine. He believes that a lot of physicians do not spend enough time with their patients going over prevention methods and how to live a healthier life. Since the traditional-only medical community focuses on the causation and fix formula, integrative medicine can provide a hybrid traditional and holistic approach to staying well. Therefore along with eating a wide variety of minimally processed organic foods[iii] and the need for physicians to spend more time educating their patients, found in integrative medicine, Dr. Weil believes following the integrative medicine formula is a good start.[ii]
Proper nutrition can be accomplished by eating foods, but also by nourishing the mind and spirit. Those suffering from serious diseases, including cancer, along with their traditional forms of treatment, receive treatment for the mind, body and soul. As WebMD puts it, “As she puts it, the service is designed to ‘deal with everything but the tumor.’ That means helping patients with stress, pain, and anxiety, as well as providing them with ways to manage symptoms and increase their sense of well-being.”[iv] The services the patient receives include message, acupuncture, music, nutrition, supplement counseling, meditation, self-hypnosis and much more. The patient became intrigued by it and noticed her pain, stress and anxiety were markedly reduced because her treatment focused on her cancer and her entire body, mind and soul. Now, tying everything together, one can see that integrative medicine takes a comprehensive survey of sicknesses and treats them with not just on approach, but a multi-prong approach.
Dr. Jorge Bordenave practices Integrative, Preventive & Clinical Cardiology.
He is NOAA / UHMS Certified Dive Medical Examiner, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, FIU Medical College and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Nova Southeastern University.
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