From our friends at Wikipedia: “Integrative medicine, is the combination of practices and methods of alternative medicine with conventional biomedicine. It emphasizes treating the whole person, with a focus on wellness and health rather than treating disease and on the patient-physician relationship.”
The integrated approach to medicine means that doctors look at the whole body and get to the root of the problem and then design a protocol to heal. So how does it work? Let’s walk through an example.
Your child is diagnosed with severe food allergies, asthma, sensory processing disorder, auditory processing disorder and ADHD. At an integrated medicine practice the doctor will give your child a thorough exam. During the exam the dr. notices that your child’s belly is distended and there is constipation (possible GI issue) his tongue is white (yeast overgrowth). These simple signs are the beginning pieces of the bigger puzzle.
Many times specific blood work is performed. These tests can determine what isn’t functioning properly in the body. A child with ADD/ADHD may actually have food sensitivities. Their protocol may be as simple as removing specific foods and the toxins from their environment.
The next step may be to check your child’s ability to detoxify. If your child can’t detoxify effectively, then all of the vaccines they have received, the lead paint in your old home and the processed food they have been eating has now become a toxic wasteland in their body. If this is the case, their gut can be damaged. You may have learned the term leaky gut syndrome. This means that the lining of the gut has been compromised. There is supposed to be a protective wall that surrounds the gut but, when there are leaks, by-products of the digestion process enter the blood stream and this creates an immune response. The body begins to attack this foreign substance that was never supposed to be in the blood stream. When this happens, inflammation occurs and messages that are supposed to get to the brain simply never do. The messages that tell your mind how to process, how to focus and how to have a proper emotional response to situations never get there. The gut has also been referred to as the second brain. If the gut isn’t working properly, your mind and body will not work properly.
So what is an example of a protocol? After removing the toxins from your home and food you address the issues raised by the blood work. There are supplements that can be used to kill yeast, raise glutathione (what the body makes to detoxify) and increase the good bacteria in your stomach. Many times there is a diet component as well. When you are healing the gut, gluten, dairy and soy may be removed. A food sensitivity test may be used to tell you what other foods are creating an unwanted response in your body and need to be removed.
This isn’t an easy road, but it is a moment in time. Often, when these foods are eliminated the stomach heals and then many of these foods can be re-introduced. In my experience, gluten can never be eaten in our home for obvious reasons, but we eat dairy on occasion and especially on our gluten free pizza! There are enough treats that you can buy or make without having to eat all of the chemicals and dyes in skittles and rainbow pops.
That said, at this point there are times when cheating is allowed. There will be a time when the kids will be away from home. I don’t want them to go out and rob a sweet shop from being deprived. It’s a delicate balance and my dream is that I teach them simply what foods and products make them feel strong and healthy and which don’t.
My last thought on integrated medicine is the following. We are not talking about witch doctors or people who use chanting and walk around with no shoes on. We are talking about card-carrying pediatricians who realize that something major is going on with our children today. I wonder how some doctors write more and more prescriptions, but never ask why this is happening. I’m not here to blame, I’m here to get to the bottom of it, spread the word and hopefully heal these children so their lives are happy and healthy.
Many times the doctors who get it have their eyes opened because it has happened to their own child. They search for answers, just like I do and you are now. I believe there will be more and more doctors seeing the light. Many of these doctors are dealing with the autism epidemic, but guess what you are in the same boat if you have food allergies, asthma, ADHD, sensory processing etc… Many of the things that are wrong in the body of a child with autism are the same things that are off in the child with ADHD and food allergies. It’s all varying degrees of symptoms when the body is not working as it should.
Our family used Dr. O’Hara in Wilton, CT from the Center for Integrated Health. This center includes two integrated doctors, a homeopath, nutritionist and behavior specialist who also perform neuro feedback. Dr. O’Hara has been amazing since our first appointment. She gets it and will help uncover the mystery of what is happening to your child through black and white blood testing. Every few months we had a check-in. This check-in helped determine if the current protocol is working. What I loved about this approach was that I had a definitive answer. If the initial protocol isn’t working there is another supplement or treatment that can be used.
If you aren’t from this area, look online for doctors who utilize an integrated holistic medical approach in your area. Do your research and make sure your potential provider is properly certified. I have found that when a doctor is good, they are the go to doctor that everyone knows about and this is powerful information.
An amazing organization that everyone should check out is TACA (Talk About Curing Autism). As I said before, your child may have ADHD but what is off in their body may be extremely close to what is not working in a child with Autism. Again, it’s the gut/brain connection. TACA gives you an outline on how to get started in finding the answers to your child’s issues. TACA also holds monthly coffee talks on a host of helpful topics that range from diet, new therapies and general questions about the journey. They will even assign you a mentor! Another vital thing they provide is information on how to obtain a doctor in your area who treats children with special needs. These doctors are often called MAPS doctors, which stands for Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs. They have a locator section to find doctors in your area.
Center for Integrated Health, http://www.ihealthnow.org
Talk About Curing Autism, TACA http://www.tacanoworg.com
The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs, http://www.medmaps.org