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These 4 Methods Make Your Holistic Care More Powerful

If you're looking for a more holistic and integrative approach to your healthcare, you're not alone. A growing number of people are turning to integrative medicine in order to get the most out of their treatment plans. Integrative medicine is a combination of different treatments that work together to heal the body as a whole. You can improve your own health journey with holistic medicine when you use these functional methods in your daily life, and with your doctor. With these ideas, you can better work toward identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease. Here are 5 ways to make your healthcare treatment plan more holistic with an integrative medicine approach!

What is functional medicine and how can a holistic practitioner help improve your life?

Functional medicine is a branch of integrative medicine that focuses on identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease. A doctor who practices holistic medicine has conventional medical training and uses a blend of traditional, modern, and complementary solutions best suited for each patient's health. Holistic treatments are based on the idea that our bodies are interconnected systems that work together to maintain health. When one system is out of balance, it can lead to problems in other areas of the body.

Take, for example, autoimmune Hashimoto's thyroiditis, the most common cause of low thyroid function in the U.S. This condition can cause weight gain, brain fog, difficulty regulating body temperature, and problems with metabolism. This is a complex medical issue that often requires conventional treatments like thyroid hormone replacement, but a long-term reduction in thyroid antibodies improves with holistic therapies such as following a gluten-free diet (1).

Holistic practitioners are medical doctors who develop treatment plans which are scientifically proven to address the underlying causes of symptoms. This approach to holistic health can be especially helpful for people who have not responded to conventional treatments, or who have chronic diseases.

You might like: Lose Weight with Low Thyroid | Tips, Tests, and Treatments

What methods do functional medicine doctors use?

Functional medicine practitioners use a variety of methods, including:

  • Laboratory testing
  • Gut function analysis
  • Genetic testing
  • Ayurvedic medicine
  • Conventional medication
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Naturopathic medicine

When working with an integrative physician, you'll also likely have a team of holistic practitioners who are all dedicated to helping you reach optimal health. Your holistic treatment team might include:

  • An integrative physician to order diagnostic testing and blood work, recommend supplements and oversee treatment
  • A nutritionist or dietitian to recommend targeted diet changes, like removing food sensitivities or following a specialized diet
  • A health coach to guide your healthy habits
  • An energy healing or mindfulness expert to help you learn how to maintain balance in your overall well being

Holistic treatments address environmental and lifestyle factors, genetics, and the patient's unique biochemistry. Holistic healing methods also consider spiritual aspects, as well as emotional health as this, can bolster patient empowerment during any health challenge. The individualized focus of holistic practices is effective for a wide variety of acute and chronic health conditions.

Related: The Nutrition Supplement Guide | Health Benefits, Dosages, and Facts

Want to learn more?

Benefits of a holistic medicine approach to health and wellness

Following the principles of holistic medicine means that all aspects of the person are considered when developing a treatment plan. This includes not only physical symptoms, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Centering your treatment around a holistic approach to health can have a number of benefits in addition to reducing your current symptoms. Some of the key benefits include (2):

  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Prevention of disease and illness
  • Better quality of life
  • More resilient physical health
  • Stronger immune system function

Here are 5 ways you might not have realized can make your approach to treatment more holistic (and more effective) with the help of integrative medicine.

1. Find a doctor who listens and takes the time to understand your concerns

In an age where conventional physicians and providers are incredibly pressed for time, it’s often the patients who suffer most when doctors are overworked and not able to spend time getting to know each person. The principles of functional medicine prioritize more compassionate and individualized patient care. This is one of the reasons holistic medicine has become so popular.
Seek out a holistic practitioner who takes the time to listen to your concerns and ask questions about your health history.
Holistic care may look like:

  • Taking an in-depth health history
  • Asking you about your diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits
  • Discussing your emotional or spiritual health
  • Stress management and mental health

Visits with your doctor at CentreSpringMD mean longer appointment times. Learn more about our patient experience.

2. Consider complementary and alternative therapies in addition to traditional medicine

Explore types of holistic treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic care, or massage therapy to complement your traditional medication and treatment plan.

Studies show acupuncture is an effective complementary treatment option for depression, anxiety, infertility, hypertension,

Holistic therapies can help to improve your overall health and wellbeing by reducing stress, improving circulation, and helping to restore balance in the body. They may also be helpful for conditions that don’t respond well to treatment with conventional methods.

Functional and complementary treatments often include:

  • Acupuncture for pain relief
  • Chiropractic care for back and neck pain
  • Herbal medicine for chronic conditions
  • Massage therapy for stress relief
  • Targeted supplementation and dietary changes

These are just a few examples–talk to your doctor about the therapies that may be best suited for you.

Experience relaxing treatment methods from around the world in our integrative Spa.

3. Connect with other patients who have similar health concerns

There’s a wealth of knowledge and support to be found in a community where you share common experiences. Holistic medicine encourages connection with other patients who have similar health concerns.

This may look like:

  • Joining a patient forum or online community
  • Attending a local support group meeting
  • Finding an integrative medicine doctor near you
  • Sharing your story with friends, or on social media

Sharing your patient experience, as well as thoughts, hopes, and concerns can alleviate anxiety and any stigma that may be causing undue stress during your treatment. This is especially true for chronic health concerns or mental health issues which often aren’t outwardly visible.

There are many ways to find support from others who understand what you’re going through.

Related: The Integrative Approach to Depression + Anxiety

4. Educate yourself about your condition and the treatments available

Your integrative physician is your partner in your health–and that’s why it’s important to educate yourself about your condition and the treatments available.
Be an active participant in your own care by learning as much as you can about your physical health, the medications you’re taking, and any complementary therapies you may be using. Knowledge is power!

This may look like:

  • Reading up on integrative medicine and functional medicine
  • Watching educational videos about your condition or treatment
  • Participating in online courses related to integrative health
  • Joining a support group for people with your condition

The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions about your health.

Our providers are specialized in many conditions. Learn more about the conditions we treat.

Common Health Issues | Functional medicine treatment techniques in treating disease

ADHD in adults and children

A holistic approach to ADHD might focus on balancing neurotransmitters with diet and supplements, or work to optimize the effectiveness of medication with behavioral therapies and diet changes. Functional treatment to reduce ADHD symptoms is effective, for example:

In school-age children, one study showed that medication combined with behavior therapy provided optimal treatment outcomes (3).

In another study, after correcting nutrient deficiencies such as B6 and magnesium, one child experienced improved sleep and better concentration–and no medication was needed (4).

Functional medicine doctors know each individual’s chemistry is unique, and the goal with treatment is to find the most effective approach–or combination of approaches–that works best to support each patient.

Read more: What Causes ADHD in Adults & Children?

Chronic illness

Autoimmune disorders and chronic illnesses are among the most complex issues affecting the modern world. And because they’re often difficult to treat with medication alone, a more whole-body or holistic approach can improve symptom reduction tremendously, as well as opening up the pathway to remission.

For example, conventional treatment of inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s and colitis often focuses solely on suppressing the immune system. This method can have unwanted side effects, such as an increased risk of infection. To contrast, a study done in 2017–and one of the first of its kind–showed that 73% of patients following an autoimmune Paleo diet achieved clinical remission after 6 weeks, and were able to maintain remission during the maintenance phase of the study (5).

The support of a collaborative and compassionate care team including a physician, health coach, therapist, and others are so beneficial in improving treatment outcomes and quality of life.

Related: Is SIBO the Missing Link to IBD?

Hormone imbalance

Hormone imbalance symptoms are incredibly common today, for both men and women, as we navigate stress, environmental toxins, and fertility challenges. Diet and lifestyle changes remain one of the most effective and accessible ways to improve hormone health for many individuals (6).

For example, supplementation with Myo-inositol plus selenium was found to restore normal thyroid function in 86 patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. These participants also noted improved feelings of wellbeing (7).

When working to restore hormone balance, your functional doctor will begin with testing and follow up with recommendations tailored to your individual chemistry, needs, and lifestyle.

Other ways we like to lean into holistic medicine

Working with a holistic practitioner is an important step in your journey to optimal health and wellness, but many holistic “treatments” are available to you directly in your own home. And they cost little to nothing to begin.

Here’s how we bring holistic treatments home:

Get enough sleep and exercise – both are crucial for maintaining your health.

Avoid stress, or have an effective stress reduction plan by practicing relaxation techniques like controlled breathing, yoga, or meditation.

Eat whole foods as much as possible. Avoid ultra-processed sugars and carbohydrates which can disrupt your microbiome. Plenty of vegetables, some fruits, quality proteins, and healthy fats are the staples of a well-balanced diet.

And remember, when working to improve daily lifestyle habits like diet and exercise, small changes practiced consistently over time will always win out against drastic measures.

Read more: 10 Simple Actions for Optimal Health (that you can start right now)

Tips for making the switch to a more holistic healthcare treatment plan

Get started by making small changes, like adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet or taking a yoga class once a week. You don’t have to overhaul your whole life in a week.

Talk to your doctor about incorporating integrative therapies into your treatment plan. He or she would likely love to hear that you’re taking a more active role in your healthcare.

Educate yourself about holistic healthcare approaches and find resources that work for you.

Find a support group of people who are also using integrative treatments to connect with others on the same journey

Start with one change and add more as you feel comfortable. Integrative and functional medicine can provide a more personalized approach to healthcare, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about these options!

Begin Your Integrative Medicine Journey

There are many benefits to using an integrative or functional medicine approach to your health. Functional medicine offers a more holistic view of the individual, taking into account all aspects of your life and health. A holistic practitioner relies on this information to develop an appropriate treatment plan for you.

If you’re not currently using an integrative or functional medicine approach, talk to your doctor about whether these might be right for you.

Resources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30060266/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441185/
  3. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/205525
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15466962/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5647120/
  6. https://www.mdpi.com/journal/nutrients/special_issues/diet_hormones
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331475/

Tags

atlanta center for holistic and integrative medicine, holistic doctor appointment, holistic medical care for the family, holistic medicine, integrative medicine, integrative medicine tips


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