At Life Medical we specialize in integrative medicine. Many people don’t understand what that means and because we think that integrative medicine is the key to good health, it is worth taking the time to read this explanation.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE?
The definition of the word integration is “to bring together or incorporate parts into a whole”. At Life Medical we bring together all types of medical experts for the benefit of our patients. Our practice combines both “conventional” and “alternative” practitioners together in a cooperative team approach.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A PROVIDER PRACTICING INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE?
An integrative doctor’s job is to understand what all the available modalities can do and refer appropriately to the right practitioners that do them. We evaluate each patient individually, figure out the best plan that may include any combination of conventional and/or complementary methods, then manage the case based on the patient’s response to treatment. In most cases a combination of modalities works better for patients than a single modality.
In this way we get the biggest “bang for the healthcare buck” and we achieve more permanent solutions vs. temporarily fixing the symptoms.
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DOES INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE COST MORE?
Some of our modalities are covered by insurance some are not. Our office can help patients determine what treatments their particular health plan covers. We always take our patients’ financial and insurance situation into account. We tailor the treatment as to what is best for their health as well as what is best for their pocketbook.
WHAT INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE IS NOT:
Integrative medicine does not involve a group of people sitting in a circle meditating around a collection of aromatic candles. Nor does it involve a myriad of impressive sounding but useless medical tests. It also does not involve trying random therapies in the hopes of making the patient feel better for just a few hours.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONVENTIONAL AND COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES?
At Life Medical we define “conventional medicine” as the group of medical modalities approved of by the “powers that be”, especially when it comes to treatments covered by health insurance. These modalities usually get better coverage by health insurance plans.
Other modalities are typically referred to as “alternative” or “complementary”. This distinction is rather arbitrary and is a subject to change. For example, acupuncture used to be very alternative, but is now being widely accepted by the conventional establishment and covered by many healthcare plans. The same change happened years ago in regards to chiropractic care.
WHY ARE MORE PATIENTS CHOOSING COMPLEMENTARY CARE?
Because of the challenges they face using conventional medicine, more and more patients are looking for treatment with alternative modalities. Many patients are frustrated with what they feel is ineffective and industrialized conventional medicine and are looking for something “alternative” that combines gentle techniques and more personal time with a practitioner. Often patients say that their health has been improved simply because of the additional caring and personal attention they receive from alternative medicine providers. But the best reason to use complementary modalities is simply because some of them work better than the conventional treatments.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE WHERE COMPLEMENTARY CARE AND CONVENTIONAL CARE WORKED TOGETHER FOR A SUCCESS STORY:
A patient came in to Life Medical for treatment. The patient had many issues including PTSD, obesity, and back pain.
PTSD often causes associated issues because it makes people upset and nervous. It impedes sleep, so many people gain weight as a result. It’s a vicious circle. When we look at PTSD, the most effective modalities might be: medical cannabis, hypnosis, Neuro Research Protocol (supplements) and homeopathy. It depends on the patient and the particular case, but we could use any one of these treatments or a combination of two or more, depending on the patient.
At Life Medical we do not treat one problem without paying attention to the rest of the patient’s issues; we treat the patient as a whole.
Overall the effect of our integrative approach is much better long term health. In this case we should strive for better emotional health, less back pain, weight reduction, which then improves the back pain and decreases their risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers and many other conditions. So in the long run the patient is feeling better physically and emotionally, their life is better, their relationships are better and they are much happier.
A typical conventional approach to a case like this from a 10-minute visit with an M.D. would likely be to:
- Prescribe psychiatric drugs for the PTSD
They are often ineffective and cause a great deal of side effects. They also stop working over time. Many also cause additional weight gain.
- Prescribe pain drugs for the back pain
Most pain drugs are a bad idea. Even most of the over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and Advil can be unsafe and they all have side effects; some of them significant. The only fairly safe pain drug is medical cannabis.
- Provide the useless suggestion that they should lose weight.
Without an effective appetite suppressant most people will not be successful in weight loss.
Our integrated approach to a case like this would be to:
- Stabilizing the patient is the first step. In many cases cannabis is a very good approach to stabilization because it helps with the flashbacks and nightmares of PTSD but also with other symptoms; such as helping patients sleep better. It is also helpful for pain with almost no side effects. People getting on cannabis will almost always report a reduction of all their PTSD symptoms, improved well-being, their lives get better in many respects, and they usually report no side effects. The only negative of cannabis is the cost which is not covered by insurance.
- For back pain we can offer chiropractic/physical therapy, acupuncture, prolotherapy and hypnosis (which can be very successful in chronic pain cases). Hypnosis will also help alleviate PTSD symptoms.
- For obesity: first we wait and see what cannabis does, if this is how we start the case. Fairly frequently it will make the patient happier by helping them sleep better, reduce pain and reduce PTSD symptoms. This alone will often cause weight loss through less emotional eating and higher activity level. If cannabis alone is insufficient, we can look at Neuro Research Protocol for appetite suppression and hypnosis to help the patient turn their mind around and quell their eating compulsion. The same supplements also work as an antidepressant, so they add benefits on top of cannabis, and in some cases can be used to replace it.
- Some people may benefit from homeopathy, in particular for the PTSD symptoms.
So, multiple modalities would be used, many effective for several symptoms in the case, in the long run causing deep and lasting improvement.
HOW DOES MEDICAL CANNABIS FIT IN TO THE INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE APPROACH?
At Life Medical we like to say that “cannabis is a gateway drug… to good medicine”!
Patient comes to Life Medical to be evaluated and certified for medical cannabis. Once they are certified and approved by the state, the pharmacist at the cannabis dispensary will help the patient figure out the right products and doses of medication. We give it some time to work and to make sure the treatment is optimized.
After three or four months we can really get a read on what the patient’s new baseline is, for pain, PTSD, any other issues, or all of the above; the patient is almost always vastly improved. We then see them at the clinic for a follow up.
With medical cannabis our goal is to eventually reduce the use. Most patients will be significantly better after using cannabis for a few months. This is when we really take a look at adding other modalities/treatment methods to treat their conditions.
After a few months, the patients’ lives are improved; they have fewer symptoms, less pain, and they are sleeping better. If they were experiencing PTSD, it is much more in control; they are now able to go out in public, they are much happier, and their family life is better. All of this is the typical scenario within the initial 3-4 months of using cannabis.
At this point we start looking at how to make the patient better permanently because cannabis is basically just “symptom relief”. Using PTSD as an example, we might move to other more effective modalities for a more permanent cure such as: hypnosis, Neuro Research Protocol (supplements) and homeopathy. It depends on the case but it is possible that we would use one or all of these treatments.
CASE STUDY ONE: ONE MAN’S VERY POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH MEDICAL CANNABIS
Almost four years ago an obese middle aged patient came in. He was a type 2 diabetic and required daily insulin. This patient had been taking anti-depressants for thirty years as well as high blood pressure pills. He finally decided to try medical cannabis.
The results? He is now 70 pound lighter, no longer suffers from type 2 diabetes and has been able to stop taking his blood pressure pills. His physical health as well as his mental health is better than it has been in 20 years; surprising both himself and his personal physician.
CASE STUDY TWO: ONE WOMAN’S POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH MEDICAL CANNABIS AND INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE
A 60 year old overweight woman came into Life Medical experiencing knee pain and a slight case of depression. She was certified by the State of Minnesota for cannabis under chronic pain from her degenerative joint disease. She greatly improved from the medical cannabis, but we also suggested that she do something else simultaneously to improve her health long term, so we suggested conventional physical therapy, muscle work and also we used low level laser therapy on her knees. At our suggestion she also started taking the supplement Glucosamine. To help with some sleep issues we gave her a preparation of Valerian with hops which improved her sleep. She is now trying our Neuro Research Protocol to help suppress her appetite and as a result has lost 15 pounds.
The stress on her knees has been reduced and her mood has greatly improved. Now that her knees are far less painful she can be more active which enhances her weight loss efforts. This is truly a full circle success story for integrative medicine!
GREAT TIP FROM DR. MIRMAN
Glucosamine is created equal. We have seen better results from one particular product sold in Costco called Cosamine DS. This product has worked better than some other brands in a few patients, so we suggest patients stick with this brand.
CASE STUDY THREE: INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE FOR CROHN’S DISEASE
A patient came in to Life Medical to get medical cannabis certification for Chron’s Disease. After three months of using cannabis he is much better; it generally works very well in Chron’s patients.
Once his symptoms were much improved from medical cannabis, we started homeopathic therapy for a more permanent healing and improvement. After several months on homeopathy he has been feeling a lot better; so much so that he has been able to reduce his cannabis use.