Friday, October 10, 2014

The Art of Integrative Medicine

Greetings from Tucson, AZ! I just wrapped up my first Integrative Medicine fellowship conference thru the University of Arizona.

This week COMPLETELY reinforced my decision that integrative medicine is the wave of the future. We do not have a healthcare system in the US. We have a disease management system. There has to be a radical shift from our current perspective on healthcare. The obesity epidemic has no end in sight. There has to be a change, and I think the first step is for Western medicine to recognize that food can be the answer. Food is medicine, and how we fuel our bodies has a major impact on disease states.

Being surrounded by physicians that share this viewpoint was so inspiring. Although I've only been in practice a few short years, I already feel a little bit jaded about the current state of affairs. This week reminded me why I went into medicine. Not to hand out prescriptions and know that the side effects might outweigh the therapeutic benefit. To truly help patients, not just manage their disease and put a band-aid on their symptoms.

It was amazing! And I get to keep learning and working with these awesome classmates for 2 more years!

Some highlights from the conference:

We started out with a ceremony to learn each others' stories. While everyone gave a short intro of why they chose to do the fellowship, we were all tied together with yarn around our wrists. At the end of the ceremony one of the directors cut the yarn but left us all with bracelets. We were to wear them all week to symbolize togetherness and teamwork. She even told a story about how one of the previous fellows still wears part of his in a locket so many years later!

Dr Andy Weil, who is one of the founders of Integrative Medicine, and also the director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, spoke to us two times over the course of the week.  He is the creator of the anti-inflammatory diet, which is a huge component of the fellowship. He spent a lot of time discussing the diet with us, his thoughts on some current debates in the nutrition world (saturated fat for one), and also gave an introduction to botanicals and supplements. The botanicals lecture was fascinating, and I am excited to learn more about it over the course of the tow years.

Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid
This link will take you to Dr Weil's website, where the pyramid is interactive and will give you more information about the diet.

Dr. Shauna Shapiro is a clinical psychologist and researcher who has devoted her career to the concept of mindfulness. It is a type of medication that allows us to be more connected and present in each and every moment. Now, before this conference I knew the importance of meditation, but can honestly say I did not practice it myself. However, after listening to Dr. Shapiro speak, I can see why it is such an integral part of wellness.


By far, my favorite session was entitled 'The Kitchen Table Farmacy' (how clever!) Dr Siri Chand Khalsa is one of the most amazing teachers that I've had the pleasure of interacting with. She is a physician and also an aruyvedic practitioner. Her approach to integrative nutrition is so in tune with what I believe and try to incorporate in my practice (she is completely plant-based, I am not). It truly was an honor to learn from her.  She brought us samples of her own recipes and creations based on her practice and everything was delicious! Her blog below has more information and tons of yummy recipes.

Dr. Chand Khalsa's blog

We also had several sessions on mind-body practices, like clinical hypnosis, movement therapy, and spirituality in medicine. In addition, we had a great session on motivational interviewing. All were very interesting and sparked great conversation among the fellows. I think we all left feeling inspired and excited to put into practice what we learned over the course of the week.

Sorry this was so lengthy, and if you are still reading, thanks! I will definitely write up something more in-depth about nutrition. I learned some great ways to make healthy eating a way of life and will be happy to share them with you!



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