Why should we not take advantage of all available avenues for healing? Integrative medicine takes into consideration the many factors that affect our health by pairing the best practices of traditional Western medicine with complementary therapies and wellness practices.
For instance, hypertension can be treated with medication, and it also can be addressed through healthy diet, exercise and stress-relieving techniques like meditation, massage and yoga.
Practitioners of integrative medicine seek to treat the root causes of disease as well as the symptoms. Pharmaceuticals are a mainstay of modern medicine, but we also should look to herbal and vitamin supplements that can help replenish nutrient deficiencies and ease symptoms.
The Best of Both Worlds
Integrative medicine is not a “one or the other” approach, rather it uses a combination of therapies, techniques and treatments in designing individualized plans that consider a person’s physical and emotional needs. It’s about mind, body and spirit.
Integrative medicine incorporates aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, Tai Chi, and meditation. These and other Eastern therapies like yoga have become more accepted in the West in addressing issues including pain. Integrative therapies can be used in consort with and as a complement to more conventional medical treatments. Federal surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show steady growth in the use of yoga and meditation over the past five years. Beyond general wellness, these tools help to soothe patients facing serious medical challenges.
A Patient-centric Approach with a Supportive Team
Integrative medicine is centered on the individual and is very much a partnership between patients and their healthcare providers. Patients play a critical role in their own health and wellness by using education and support to empower them. This approach usually employs a coordinated team of practitioners, including a physician, nutritionists, physical therapists, psychologists and others in looking at the whole person.
People have been very receptive to the approach, which increasingly is employed in healthcare settings like Holy Name.
Likewise, we encourage people to come together in community by offering group visits, support groups and educational seminars. This sense of community is important for many seeking to restore health and stick with lifestyle changes. Holy Name's Center for Healthy Living offers yoga and exercise classes, stress management and mindfulness education, and other wellness programs at the medical center and in the community.
A Customized Plan
There is no one-size-fits all in integrative medicine. We start with a thorough assessment to see what works best for a person. This includes questions designed to see where people are in terms of their ability and willingness to make changes toward a healthier lifestyle. We assess nutrition, activity levels and other lifestyle factors, and together healthcare providers and individuals come up with a plan. For example, we can customize a diet that addresses particular issues, such as inflammation, and design an exercise program tailored to a person’s abilities and lifestyle.
Our goal is healing, our focus is the individual. Integrative medicine is an idea whose time has come.
Dr. Erguder-Saman specializes in family medicine. She completed an integrative medicine fellowship at the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, San Diego, CA. Her practice is located within HNH Fitness in Oradell, Holy Name's center for personal health, fitness and wellness. To make an appointment with her, call 201-265-1159 or book online at HolyNameMedicalPartners.org.