The Empowered Patient

A newly-recognized medical specialty known as “integrative medicine” allows you and your doctor to partner together to find answers to your unique health issues.
May 1, 2016
Jennifer Blomquist
Jeffrey Crane

Patient Scenario #1: You’re at the end of your rope. You suffer from a chronic condition and have seen more specialists than you can count, but still don’t have any answers or any relief from your symptoms. You start to think that you’ll just have to live like this the rest of your life.

Solution: See an integrative medicine specialist.

 

Patient Scenario #2: You just aren’t feeling your best anymore and are starting to notice changes associated with middle age and menopause: weight gain, not sleeping well and feeling more stressed. You just want to feel like “you” again. 

Solution: See an integrative medicine specialist.

 

Patient Scenario #3: You’re at the top of your game and you want to stay that way. You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into staying fit and eating right and don’t want to lose your edge. You’re looking for a way to tweak your body to prevent any setbacks.

Solution: See an integrative medicine specialist.

 

“That pretty well describes the three different kinds of patients we see in integrative medicine,” says Dr. Angela LaSalle, medical director of integrative medicine at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. “There is great demand for this style of medicine as evidenced by development of programs in integrative and functional medicine at major medical centers such as Duke University and Cleveland Clinic. Parkview has a similar volume of demand and thus, we are working diligently to expand our capacity here in Fort Wayne.”

Dr. LaSalle is one of just a handful of physicians nationwide that are board certified in integrative medicine. She was part of the inaugural class of about 125 doctors from all over the country to receive that certification from the American Board of Integrative Medicine in 2015.

Simply put, integrative medicine is a more holistic and alternative approach to medicine.

“One of the hallmarks of integrative medicine is a focus on regaining your wellness. So, in addition to looking for the root causes of diseases, a major focus we have with our patients is helping them to get back to a vital and energized lifestyle. We do that by partnering with patients, educating them and also pulling in some other tools besides just the traditional, prescriptive type therapies—things like nutrition, exercise and maybe even acupuncture or guided imagery.”

Dr. LaSalle says that while many physicians have been practicing what integrative medicine preaches for years, the specialty is actually in its infancy and she and her colleagues are constantly delving into research and new findings.

“It takes an average of 10 to 15 years from when something has been studied for it to trickle down to mainstream medical practice. That’s quite a long time. So, a lot of times, what I find historically in our practice is that we’ll be dealing with research that has come out within the last two to three years in the medical publications.”

Dr. LaSalle understands there are skeptics to integrative medicine. But she says the specialty is evidence-based. For example, she says looking at a patient and his or her genes in a new light can result in answers.

“We’re finding that we are not necessarily prisoners of our genetics and don’t need to settle for the idea that ‘Oh, well, my mom had this all her life, so I will, too.’ We are learning that epigenetics is the area within our genetic code that actually responds to things like nutritional changes and exercise and herbal therapies. And you can use food as medicine in the respect of being able to decrease inflammation in our bodies. I believe inflammation to be an underlying cause of many ailments.”

Dr. LaSalle was a nurse before going to medical school and is board certified in both family medicine and integrative medicine and is currently pursuing board certification for anti-aging and regenerative medicine. She has always had a holistic interest and focus in her medical practices.

“We can’t change the clock or the calendar, but we can change the way we treat our bodies and we can eat foods that reduce inflammation instead of promote inflammation. But it takes true commitment by a person to make a lifestyle change. And there is nothing selfish about focusing on yourself and your wellbeing,” LaSalle says. “Women are especially vulnerable to not doing this because we are so busy taking care of everyone else. I like to use the so-called ‘oxygen mask’ approach when I’m explaining the importance of self-care and nurturing. When you’re on a plane and they’re explaining the emergency procedures, they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then help others. The same is true of your health: put your ‘oxygen mask’ on first, so you can take care of those around you.”

Parkview Physicians Group - Integrative Medicine

Phone: (260) 672-6590

Website: parkview.com/integrativemedicine

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