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5 Types of Integrative Medicine You Can Do at Home

Posted December 03, 2018 by Tara Scott, M.D. Summa Health Obstetrics & Gynecology


Yearly visits to your primary care physician are an important part of a healthy lifestyle plan. Another form of care known as integrative medicine should be an additional resource you consider when building a complete lifestyle plan. Sometimes confused with other treatment options like complementary or alternative, integrative medicine puts the patient at the center of both physical and mental health by expanding treatment options. However, all three of these terms refer to different types of care.

  • Complementary medicine is used in conjunction with traditional medical care. It usually is a small addition, like massage therapy, to treat pain.
  • Alternative medicine is a form of treatment that is not necessarily performed by a traditional medical physician and is used in place of traditional methods.
  • Integrative medicine is a relatively new term and encompasses the whole spectrum of patient care, including emotional and physical health and can include many of the treatments below and describes the combination of traditional medicine with other treatment modalities.

The long-term effects of stress can be devastating on the body and this integrative approach addresses all forms of care in relation to the body and mind, creating a whole health plan. Stress has been known to be linked to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems like insomnia, anxiety and depression. Integrative medicine should be a combined effort between you and your primary care physician at addressing all of your health concerns.

Here are 5 types of integrative medicine you can start right now:

  1. Stress-alleviation techniques such as yoga and meditation can have dramatic effects on your overall well-being. During stressful times in our lives, the levels of the hormone cortisol can increase dramatically. This increase can disrupt sleep patterns and elevate blood pressure. Regular meditation practice and yoga (which pulls double duty as physical activity) can help mitigate these negative effects of stress.
  2. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to aid in the healing process, boost energy levels and reduce stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy uses pure essential oils derived from flowers, herbs and even tree bark to tap into our brains interaction with the sense of smell. Using pure essential oils, like lavender for relaxation or lemongrass for alertness, through home diffusers or scented items, studies show it may help memory retention, alleviate headaches, mitigate stress and help with sleep issues. Aromatherapy uses therapeutic grade oils rather than just oils for the scent.
  3. Natural products such as herbal supplements, probiotics and other properties of natural origin can aid an integrative health plan. There may be a benefit to adding probiotics for gut issues or natural herbal supplements to alleviate stress or pain. Always discuss these types of additions with your physician as many products in this category are not regulated by the FDA therefore not all supplements are the same quality.
  4. Self-care in its most basic definition is care for oneself. It could be as simple as carving out one day to see a film, take a walk or read a book. Creating and keeping time for personal activities that you enjoy alone can increase your mental and emotional health exponentially. In addition, many people neglect to get enough sleep. It takes a full 7-8 hours for your body to regenerate.
  5. Health-specific diets can help those of us who suffer from gut issues. Carbs: The Good, the Bad and the Yummy! explores the correlation of certain food groups and other health issues. A reduction in gluten can aid in digestion, a plant-based diet can help manage type 2 diabetes and other common ailments. Exploring the body’s relationship to food can be a great way to address issues in the body. Not all diets are good for everyone, so it depends on your clinical situation.

You should always consult with your primary care physician when introducing any of these integrative forms of healthy living into your regular routine. Some natural supplements and certain foods (like citrus) can interact with medications.

Summa Health's primary care team is focused on coordinated care for our patients and long-term positive health. We offer comprehensive care for the whole family, from infants to seniors, and can coordinate all of the care you may need. Our team includes more than 280 board-certified general practice physicians and advanced practice support staff. We also believe in treating the whole patient. If an integrative approach to your overall health is a priority, come see us.

In addition, Summa has launched an Integrative Medicine department and is currently offering Acupuncture, Reiki and therapeutic massage and mindfulness at our Hudson location. To schedule an appointment, please call 330.342.4400.


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