As our nation’s healthcare system continues to be stressed, a growing number of people are looking for alternatives to conventional healthcare treatments. There is a growing movement to make use of all the best science-based treatments available under the umbrella of Integrative Medicine. The integrative approach to wellness utilizes conventional medicine and evidence-based complementary and alternative therapies. Integrative medicine is said to be a healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person (body, mind, and spirit) and emphasizes healthy living and disease prevention.
Methodist Medical Group offered an early sampling of the integrative approach to medicine unique to the Peoria area with the addition of Dr. Jill Carnahan. She has been treating patients in the Integrative Clinic at Methodist Medical Group at Peartree and functions as Director of Integrative Medicine for Methodist. Dr. Carnahan stresses that integrative medicine is putting together the best of both conventional and non-conventional treatments to obtain the best possible outcomes for the patient.
More Emphasis on Patient Involvement
“It’s not unusual for me to get a call from a patient who tells me they’ve been diagnosed with cancer,” says Dr. Carnahan. “They may want options for treatment besides conventional chemotherapy and radiation. It is important to let them know that I prefer to work in conjunction with their oncologist. I can optimize their immune system and their nutritional status but I do work with conventional medicine.” Carnahan continued, “With integrative medicine, we just expand our toolbox to include functional medicine, energy medicine, mind, body, lifestyle and nutrition.”
“I’d say the core to integrative medicine is people changing the way they live,” says Dr. Carnahan. “What they eat, what they’re exposed to, how they handle stress, and then high-quality nutritional supplements.” Carnahan says there’s a big difference in nutritional supplements. “Nutritional supplements are not regulated in the U.S. It’s possible to get some really harmful substances in some of these supplements if you’re not familiar with the manufacturer and the processes they use.”
The integrative approach works especially well for the chronic conditions with which conventional medicine has not had great success. Dr. Carnahan said functional somatic syndromes, like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and other vague complaints that people have and take medicine for but never really get better, are often some of integrative medicine’s success stories. Carnahan says that many times just getting the patient onto a routine of proper diet and nutrition will make definitive improvement in how the patient feels.
According to Dr. Carnahan, integrative medicine differs from conventional medicine in another way. “With conventional medicine, the patient goes to the physician with a problem and may receive medicine or other treatment as a passive partaker of treatment. With integrative medicine, the patient must be an active, motivated patient. If I have someone who walks in and says ‘I don’t want to change, I don’t want anything but a pill,’ I probably can’t help him or her. They have to want to change because it can involve changing some hard habits or maybe taking some supplements. There is definitely a lot more on the patient. I tell patients I’m like a travel agent. You tell me where you want to go, and I’m going to give you options on how to get there and help you with the plans. But the patient is making the trip. So there is a lot more personal responsibility placed on the patient. The good thing is that more and more patients want that. They want to take a more active and progressive role in their health.”
What are Integrative Services?
Integrative services include such things as integrative holistic consultations, anti-aging/wellness consultations, weight loss and fitness consultations, children’s health (especially ADHD, allergies/asthma/skin conditions), irritable bowel and inflammatory bowel disease treatments, hormone balance for men and women, and nutritional consultations.
Why is Nutrition an Integral Part of Integrative Medicine?
Dr. Carnahan points to our depleted soil and high-carb diets as one of the causes for many physical ailments. “We have more junk foods available and less nutrition. Our bodies are often already depleted of vitamins and minerals we need for good health. Even when we try to eat more fruits and vegetables, we find that many times they’re grown in more depleted soil than what they were 100 years ago. So the fruits and vegetables aren’t as rich and nutritious as they once were. And we all have much higher stress levels that deplete those vitamins in the body much quicker. So unless you’re really taking good care of what you’re putting in your body, most people do need additional nutritional support.”
Working from the Methodist Medical Group at Peartree facility, Dr. Carnahan has seen her practice and the demand for the integrative approaches to medicine grow. As a result, in March, the Methodist Center for Integrative Medicine will move to a new location at 9010 North Allen Road in the Prairie Pointe Shopping Center.
Methodist Healthy Solutions, a retail center for nutritional supplements and healthy living products, will also be available at the Allen Road location. Eventually acupuncture, biofeedback, and massage therapy will be added to the services along with a variety of wellness patient education classes. iBi
Dr. Jill Carnahan is medical director of Integrative Medicine and board certified in both family medicine and holistic medicine.