What IS Integrative Medicine?

Posted: Aug 12, 2020 By: Comment: 0

Before I start with what it is, I’d like to give you a brief background as to how I found this thing called functional and or integrative medicine.

My background in medicine in the private sector started 10 years ago working in emergency units. I loved it. You came in with a problem. I fixed it. You went home or you stayed.

What I didn’t love however, was repeat customers. “Why are they here again?” I would ask myself (especially at 03h00).

In time, the emergency medicine field took its toll on my own health and wellness. I didn’t do any clinical work for a few months after resigning.  Not knowing what to do next as I was disillusioned in the medical system, I was given the opportunity to work at a general medical practice and joined them.

The traditional approach to treating patients in a general medical practice didn’t sit well with me – bluntly, it killed my soul. As doctors, we’re taught to just give a pill for a symptom.  For example, an antidepressant for feeling sad, an anti hypertensive for high blood pressure, metformin for type 2 diabetes or a proton pump inhibitor for your heart burn.

And while this is what we are taught and it isn’t wrong, you often end up with polypharmacy due to side effects of these meds.  For example, muscle cramps and osteopenia from your heart burn meds, so we give you something for that. Diarrhea and stomach cramps from your metformin, so we pop you another prescription for that as well.

When I delved into aesthetic medicine and then anti-aging medicine and hormonal health, the whole functional medicine approach to health care across my path and I loved it – it made sense!

Functional medicine focuses on root cause. In essence, what is making you feel the way you do and how do we start fixing it. You fix it, we help you do it. Here you use diet and lifestyle as the big “medications” but at times we also incorporate vitamins, minerals, plant extracts and nutraceuticals as complementary treatments. The result is something sustainable which you can follow lifelong without the use for chronic medication. Investigations and treatments are evidence based and not simply sucked from thin air for us to help you.

Integrative medicine believes in the best in both worlds – finding root cause and using the “natural” treatment options while not completely forgoing the use and need for conventional medicine. Here I’ll use hypothyroidism as an example – thyroid symptoms may never be stabilized with hormone replacement without the investigation and treatment of vitamin D and iron levels, not to mention addressing autoimmune factors…. I wasn’t taught this in medical school (and I was a nerd).

It is this that we opt for at our practice, Blair and Camphor INC at Elan HealthStyle. Our appointments are long with the first consult being at least an hour. Follow ups are adjusted as needed starting at 30 mins. The usual consult time for traditional GP practice is every 15 minutes.

Quality over quantity.

Lastly, I’d like to end off by defending this approach to health before criticism comes our way. Let’s take our current 2020 situation with COVID-19 – how are we treating these patients at home?  With vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc together with paracetamol. These treatments are evidence based and now used in mainstream medicine. Vitamins work.  Minerals work.  Integrative medicine works…

It’s a treatment journey and Dr Camphor and I love walking it with you. It’s not a sprint but it is so rewarding.

 

Dr Allison Blair 

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Allison Blair

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