Two of the most recent top questions I receive are, “Can you tell me how to find an Integrative Medicine Doctor?” and “Who is your doctor?”
What is an Integrative Medicine Doctor?
An Integrative Medicine Doctor approaches illness and disease from the whole person viewpoint and addresses the underlying issues for symptoms vs. figuring out ways to mask those symptoms with a band-aid. (Read more: Symptoms, Problems, Masks, Solutions)
If you work with an Integrative Medicine Doctor, you’ll do all the normal routine testing (and advanced testing when necessary) that you would do with a general/Western Doctor, but the approach to healing is different.
An Integrative Medicine Doctor treats via food, lifestyle and supplements, and only when necessary, drugs and medication because Integrative Medicine believes in the power of the person as a whole being vs. a being with compartmentalized symptoms and issues.
Examples of integrative medicine include detoxification therapies, medication reduction therapy, nutritional therapy (supplements, herbal medicines, naturopathic medicines), and regenerative medicine. These treatments work together with some traditional treatments to effectively treat a patient in a faster, more effective way.
Integrative vs. Functional Medicine
“Functional medicine is an approach that focuses on optimal function of the body. This means helping the body function in the best way possible by focusing on efficiency in each organ of the body. Functional medicine understands that every individual is different – from genetics to biochemical makeup. Because of this, functional medicine has a personalized approach for each patient – with both diagnostics and treatment. This approach relies heavily on science-based research and testing to understand a patient’s unique needs.
Functional medicine works to correct problems in organs and the rest of the body using natural supplements wherever possible. While it does incorporate traditional medicine when necessary, functional medicine strives to use natural ways to fix health problems.
Functional medicine also heavily emphasizes lifestyle changes to fix health problems, such as diet, exercise, sleep patterns, stress levels, and other aspects of life. Examples of functional medicine include acupuncture, naturopathy, massage, chiropractic medicine, osteopathic medicine, body movement therapies, tai chi, and yoga.” (source)
Who is Your Doctor?
I’ll start here because this is the easiest one to give you. The doctor I see is Sunjya K. Schweig, MD. He has partnered with Chris Kresser, LAc., to form the California Center for Functional Medicine (CCFM).
Updated in March of 2017: I now also see Dr. Amy Nett there as well, in addition to Schweig.
Updated in September of 2019: Upon moving to Minnesota, I started seeing Dr. Jeff at Between the Bridges Healing Center.
Make note: I believe it takes months to get into Sunjya at this point, even for follow ups, so if you are considering him, make your appointment today.
How to Find an Integrative Medicine Doctor
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I fully realize that if you are not in the Bay Area, California, you will likely not be able to work with Dr. Schweig. And if you’re not in Minnesota, you won’t be able to see Dr. Jeff.
In that case, I want to give you 5 tips and resources for finding an Integrative Medicine Doctor.
- Ask local friends, family, and co-workers who they see, if you know they are in line with your views on doctors and medicine. Referrals are, in my opinion, the best. That’s how I found my doctor, after years of searching.
- Search: The Institute for Functional Medicine
- Search: Naturopathic Physicians: Natural Medicine. Real Solutions.
- Click HERE for Google Search: Top Integrative Medicine Doctors United States
- Start HERE then research any of their websites for other (more local) recommendations
Once you find your Integrative Medicine Doctor, you’ll also likely need to work with an Integrative Nutritionist and/or Integrative Health Coach (HERE are some to consider) because what I have found is that even though an Integrative Medicine Doctor is critical and places 100% value on the whole person and whole body, there is simply no way for them to work with you on all the ways to heal whole self.
For example, with severe adrenal fatigue, a major change in lifestyle and stress reduction was critical, and even though my doctor could diagnosis me and then tell me that I needed a change, he didn’t actually give me those changes or guide me to knowing what to do. He also said, at one point, that I needed to follow a version and combination of: SCD/Paleo/GAPS, but didn’t tell me what those were or how to implement them. I already knew, though, and so I could easily implement.
It is just as challenging to find a general doctor as it is to find an Integrative Medicine Doctor, but finding the right one for you can make all the difference in your life.
It did for me.
You will heal. I will help.