INTEGRATIVE & HOLISTIC MEDICINE UPDATE
Nancy Russell, MD
After recently returning from the iMosaic integrative/holistic medical conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota April 6th through the 10th, I want to share a truly amazing experience. There were nearly 1000 physicians and other professionals from all over the country gathering together to distribute up to date knowledge and information about this broad field of medicine. Research data was presented and analyzed.
Four national and international organizations were involved in the planning of this historic event in integrative & holistic medicine. The organizations included the American Holistic Medical Association, American College for Advancement in Medicine, American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the International College of Integrative Medicine. The American Holistic Medical Association was started in 1978 by several physicians, one of which is Norm Shealy, M.D. from Springfield, Missouri. I have been involved with the AHMA since 1995 and on their board for 3 years.
At the iMosaic conference, there were over 60 exhibitors, 11 pre-conference workshops and over 30 breakout sessions. The pre-conference workshop that I attended was "Anxiety and Depression: Expanding Your Holistic & Integrative Toolbox." The faculty for this workshop consisted of M.D.’s, Ph.D’s, N.D,’s and an Acupuncturist. It was noted that depression is the number one cause of disability in the United States and there has been a ten fold increase in the incidence of depression in people born after World War II. The average person, going to their primary care physician is offered a prescription medication within four and a half minutes of the beginning of the office visit.
Integrative approaches to depression included multiple modalities for treatment: Fitness, nutrition and mindfulness techniques. Basic supplements discussed for depression included: multivitamin with vitamin B complex, Omega 3 fish oils, vitamin D3 and probiotics. Other supplements could include: 5-HTP, but not with prescription anti depressants without physician guidance, L-theanine, and SAMe. Exercises discussed were yoga, T’ai Chi and walking and it was stressed that adequate natural sleep is a must. Some kind of meditative process was encouraged such as mindfulness meditation, sewing, cooking, gardening; any thing that helps empty your mind.
The Naturopathic Doctor discussed her philosophy which coincides with mine and includes: recognizing the healing power of nature, treat the whole person, identify and treat the cause, educate the patient, emphasize prevention and promote wellness. Modalities of treatment include: diet, lifestyle, dietary supplements, botanical medicine, homeopathy and counseling. Dietary recommendations were a whole foods diet, high quality proteins, cold water fish, lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fruits; avoid and eliminate food sensitivities as well as refined grains and sugar.
Nationally known, David Riley, M.D. presented information on heart rate variability analysis researched by a company called Heart Math. They have a special type of biofeedback equipment called an em Wave that improves heart rate variability and can give coherence to a person to improve emotional well-being. I have this equipment in my office and look forward to offering this new technology to my patients.
The most memorable presentation was by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., Fellowship Director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and works with Andrew Weil, M.D. Dr. Low Dog spoke on Women’s Health: An Integrative Approach. She discussed toxic chemical exposures, even to infants before they are born, ways to reduce exposure and several websites to keep up to date. The websites include: www.Householdproducts.nim.nih.gov, www.ewg.org, www.oceansalive.org and www.safecosmetics.org. She warned about women with migraines, especially migraines with aura to avoid birth control pills. There is a 2-3 fold risk of strokes in migraineurs with aura and this increases to 8-fold in these women on birth control pills. A birth control with only progestin and not estrogen could be substituted. In discussing menopause, she stated the risk of invasive breast cancer is significantly lower with hormone therapy containing natural progesterone (compounded, bio-identical) than those containing other progestagens (e.g. Provera). Natural progesterone has also been shown to be better for heart health.
This monumental conference presented many more presenters and information. As I sort out this new information to add to my diagnosis and treatment strategies for my patients, I plan to offer new approaches to neuro transmitter balance, evaluation and treatment of toxic metals, and new biofeedback tools for anxiety and depression. It is wonderful to have more and more knowledge presented on holistic and integrative medicine and will strive to keep you up to date.