What Is Integrative Medicine?

July 1, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic illness accounts for 70% of all deaths in the United States. Many of those are preventable, and more and more Americans are turning to integrative medicine for its holistic approach to wellness. Medwin Family Medicine and Rehabilitation is happy to offer these services in Houston and Brownsville.

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Americans have grown increasingly frustrated with the limitations of conventional medicine and its reliance on unnecessary drugs and procedures. Based on the concept of whole-body wellness, integrative medicine seeks to identify the underlying cause of our health issues. Prevention is the focus, and treatment involves addressing lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise.

The integrative model combines the best elements of conventional and alternative medicine. This comprehensive approach provides us with a wide range of therapeutic methods and allows us to offer the highest quality of care.

The Pillars of Integrative Medicine

Its defining principle is a focus on prevention. This minimizes—and often eliminates—the need for medications and costly procedures. Most of us are aware of the side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the risks involved in certain invasive medical procedures. By spending more time with our patients and getting to know the whole person, we aim to be more proactive.

It is the view of an integrative practitioner that the foundation of optimal wellness is one that considers both what we put in our bodies and what we do with our bodies. The choices we make each day have an immense impact on our quality of life in the short-term, as well as our longevity. Two of the most consequential factors also happen to be modifiable: diet and lifestyle.

Diet

Research has shown that at least one-third of cancers, 90% of heart disease cases, and nearly all instances of diabetes can be prevented with the right dietary and nutrition strategies. Unfortunately, a modern Western diet leaves us vulnerable to these and many other chronic, degenerative diseases.

The Culprits

Government surveys show that as many as 90% of Americans don’t eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables. We also know from other studies that the average person in the U.S. consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar per year.

Add to this our addiction to fast food and the fact that oversized portions are now the norm and it’s easy to see how imbalances and deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals, some of which can slow down our metabolism and suppress our immunity, form/ The prevalence of refined, processed foods has left us overfed but undernourished.

Fixing the Problem

Working together, we will customize a meal plan based on your individual health concerns. This may involve the use of advanced lab tests to identify suspected allergies or intolerances. While we try to avoid blanket recommendations, a diet focused on disease prevention will be structured around whole foods to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. In some cases, the use of nutritional supplements is advised. This strategy will always be guided by scientific research.

Lifestyle

Americans aren’t just eating more: they’re also moving less, and this has contributed to a worsening obesity epidemic. A recent CDC report noted that only 23% of us meet the recommended guidelines for weekly physical activity. This is despite the proven benefits of exercise in terms of weight management, muscle strength, bone health, and reduced risk of disease.

Fixing the Problem

Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to eating, a prescription for exercise should be tailored to the patient’s individual medical history, current health status, and wellness goals. A well-rounded fitness regimen will incorporate several modalities, include resistance training and aerobics, as well as a mind-body component, such as yoga or tai chi.

Meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, breathing exercises, and other forms of mindfulness have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. When combined with conventional treatments, these methods have even been shown to help manage the symptoms of more serious illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Integrative Medicine?

Our integrated care model is particularly effective in addressing lifestyle diseases. These include the following:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Acid reflux
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Irritable bowel disorder (IBD)
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Rashes and skin health

These issues respond well to natural therapies, but we manage a wide range of other conditions for our patients, too. We provide care for every member of the family, and our services go well beyond routine physical exams. For example, we are equipped to perform advanced lab testing in-office, including a comprehensive lipid profile. We also offer women’s health services and skin cancer screenings.

We believe in putting the patient in the driver’s seat and empowering them with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their own health. We see ourselves as a partner in your health and promote a collaborative relationship.

Ready to Create a Healthier You?

If you’re like us and have been disappointed with an outdated and impersonal healthcare model, integrative medicine might be for you. Start your journey down the path of optimal wellness with an individualized plan based on your unique needs. Our holistic approach encompasses the mind, body, and spirit.

Are you interested in learning more about preventative health? Call Medwin Family Medicine and Rehabilitation in Houston, Texas at (832) 532-1914 or in Brownsville, Texas at (956) 426-0105.

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