Integrative Health: A Innovative Approach To Wellness
We are all familiar with conventional or “mainstream” medicine, but how many of us know about complimentary or alternative medicine? Integrative health is a state of well-being in body, mind and spirit that reflects aspects of the individual, community and population. It often brings conventional and complimentary approaches together in a coordinated way.
It can help us healthcare providers to understand patients and their illnesses comprehensively and holistically. The aim of this system and rationale is to aid the clinician to obtain a better overall understanding of patient’s health status in order to provide the best possible integrative treatment and care. The concept of integrative health is using both of these types of healthcare approaches.
Integrative health emphasizes a holistic, patient-focused approach to healthcare and wellness-including mental, emotional, functional, spiritual, social and community aspects. And treating the WHOLE person rather than one organ system. The National Center of Complimentary Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that integrative health may include incorporating the following into one’s healthcare journey.
Natural Products Used in Integrative Health
Some examples of natural products are herbs and essential oils, probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
- CBD oil is derived from a plant and has anti-inflammtory properties and has been shown to promote balance, regulate appetite, sleep and immune response. It also may help to reduce anxiety and elevate mood.
- Turmeric and Curcumin are spices that also have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that inflammation in our body is a leading cause for many health problems.
- Bitter melon is a fruit that for thousands of years has been used as common traditional medicine in China and India. Benefits include anti-aging, blood sugar regulation, improved digestion and glowing skin.
- Ginger is a root that can help with nausea and upset stomach, reduce fever and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and cancer risk.
- Apple cider vinegar can have antibiotic properties as well as many other health benefits.
Wellness Habits and Practices
Meditation can help us to achieve mindfulness which is being present and focusing on the here and now. Intentionality is living life with a purpose. This can have a positive impact on our health and wellness.
Special diets and nutrition can focus on consuming more organic, grass-fed foods. Nutrient dense foods help to keep our bodies functioning at optimal performance. Reducing processed foods and sugars can also help with inflammation in the body. Fasting has been a practice for billions of people in history for religious purposes. However, fasting has many health benefits. It can help to reboot our immune system, decrease insulin resistance (which is a leading cause of Type II diabetes), and produce stem cells which can slow the aging process.
Other mind and body practices include acupuncture, sound healing, aromatherapy, relaxation techniques including massage therapy, reiki, yoga, tai chi and hypnotherapy. Being in a “green space”-areas such as parks and gardens can reduce anxiety and stess as well as blood pressure and lift moods. 15 minutes of daily sunlight exposure can also provide physical and emotional health benefit.
How Integrative Healthcare Works
Even though the term integrative health seems relatively new, its practice and concept dates back to early healers such as Hippocrates. It strives to help patients achieve their optimal health and wellness with the most appropriate non-invasive, safest treatment possible.
We are all individuals and our bodies respond differently to different modalities of treatment. For example, someone with high blood pressure may respond to the traditional oral medication taken daily. However, not everyone wants to jump into anti-hypertensive medication.
Sitting down with your healthcare provider and discussing what else may be going on that may be adding to the high blood pressure is key to optimizing therapy. Maybe there is added stress at home? Financial? Kids sick? Nutrition counseling may find that too much salt consumption may play a factor. Lack of physical exercise also can contribute to hypertension.
An integrative health approach may include not only a blood pressure “pill”, but deep breathing and relaxation techniques such as meditation. Nutrition counseling, dietary supplements and an exercise plan as well as spending time in a green space can help to lower blood pressure and stress.
We are all unique and our bodies respond differently to therapies. Giving patients the access to ALL of these modalities of wellness and finding the right combination for each individual is the goal of integrative health. We want you to be part of aiding you live your healthiest lifestyle and staying well through life.
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About the Authors
Kim Kodzik and her wife have lived in Oakland Park/Wilton Manors area for 9 years. Kim raised two sons who now attend FAU (GO OWLS!), her alma mater. She earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nursing at FAU and brings over 27 years of experience to the clinic.
Erica Tercha, an Oakland Park local, is married and raises her family right here in Oakland Park. She is a Northeast Hurricane, FAU owl, and has been in retail health for the past 5 years. Erica earned her nursing degree from Barry University and her Masters in nursing from FAU. She helped organize the 1st Light of the World Health Fair and is a PTA board member at North Andrews Gardens Elementary.