What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative Medicine approaches your health from a different perspective than your Primary Care Physician. In most cases, you get sick or have an ongoing issue so you see your PCP. He writes you a prescription and you go on your way. A few weeks or a month later you are still experiencing issues, or they went away but came back. You go back to your doc and he may order some basic lab work and write you a prescription for something else. You may or may not feel better in the long term. You start to get other symptoms that appear unrelated so you get another prescription. This can go on and on for years and you feel worse and worse as time goes on. You also face the issue of having to stay on meds, because stopping them means the symptoms return and you feel even worse.
In some cases, no matter what, you may need to stay on medication for issues like thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes. But in most cases digging further into your health history and looking at factors such as diet, stress, and sleep, the Integrative Medicine practitioner tries to find the underlying or root cause of your ailment and treats that rather than the symptoms.
Integrative Medicine vs Conventional Medicine
For example, you go to a doc for IBS symptoms and they tell you to take Humira or some other drug to treat diarrhea, bloating and related symptoms. An Integrative Medicine practitioner will runs labs and based on those recommend eliminating certain foods from your diet. Case in point – I had all sorts of issues when I drank protein powder made from whey, so I switched to a plant-based powder and had even more trouble. After having lab work done I found out I’m very sensitive to casein which is the primary protein in milk. Even though most powders are whey, which is a by-product of cheese-making, there was enough casein to irritate my gut. The plant-based powder was worse and I found out I have trouble breaking down fiber due to a condition called Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO). That means I have too many bad bacteria in my small intestine and not enough good bacteria (the kind that breaks down fiber) in the stomach. This was most likely caused by the over-use of antibiotics when I was growing up.
Treating the SIBO, cleared everything up, but I will always have trouble with casein.
If you have symptoms and the doc gives a prescription, whether it helps or not, are you treating symptoms, not addressing the underlying cause. Until you address the root cause you will continue to have problems. They will manifest in different ways; you’ll never actually be “cured”.
Signs you may need to see an Integrative Medicine Practitioner
Here are just a few of the symptoms you may have that an Integrative Medicine Practitioner can help you find the root cause:
- Rash, eczema, or other skin issues
- Hair Loss, brittle nails
- IBS and other gut issues
- Chronic Fatigue Fibromyalgia
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Headaches, migraines, etc.
- Low testosterone, estrogen or other hormone deficiencies (don’t let a doc tell you that you are “low-normal” and that ok)
- Lack of sex-drive
- Sexual dysfunction (men and women)
- Abnormally cold hands or feet
- High blood pressure
There are MANY more “dis-eases” that the Integrative Practitioner can help you with.
Working with an Integrative Medicine practitioner is a partnership. You will work together to find the root cause(s) of your health issues and develop a plan of action. You will provide feedback to your practitioner and together you will modify the plan as needed. The plan could include dietary changes, sleep, exercise, supplementation, or hormone replacement therapy. The plan is based on you and your needs, it is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. Every stage of the plan is designed for you and no one else. We are all biochemically unique. Even identical twins who present with similar symptoms will have different solutions.