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Health Talk, pt. 2: Thoughts on Integrative Medicine

Posted Aug 10 2012 3:35pm

So it’s been over a month that I’ve promised this post, but among other things, it took me a while to get my thoughts all in order.

(I’m going to pick up right where I left off – you can read part 1 here )

Throughout all of this, there is a little part of me that always wants to know why.  Which I believe, in part, was a big factor in my decision to stray a bit from traditional western medicine.  Don’t get me wrong here – western medicine works, otherwise it wouldn’t be around.  But most of the time doctors focus on treating symptoms not the underlying causes.  Yes, I want to feel better – but I don’t want to simply cover up the discomforts and exterior problems if there is something bigger going on under the surface.

While I was home in Chicago – about a month ago – I went to an appointment with an M.D. who practices integrative medicine.   Before the appointment, I was really excited.  I was finally getting to see someone who was looking at my whole body chemistry, not just giving me a medication to cover one symptom.

I went in saying that my amenhorrea was the issue at hand.  But the doctor sat with me and basically went over my entire medical history.  The things she highlighted were:

  • cravings
  • “estrogen dominance” – soft skin, big boobs (…what)
  • digestion issues (have had them since forever)
  • adult onset acne

She talked in-depth about the science behind the various connections and such – it was fascinating, actually.  I’m not going to go into detail because truth be told, I don’t remember much of it.  Thinking about it now, I should have done an audio recording of my sessions, just so I could go back and do a little research.

There was so much theory and so many statements she made about this gene or that vitamin, about this symptom or that bodily function.  It was too much for anyone to take in all at once, especially someone like me who usually needs a little extra processing time.

After talking about what is not quite right in my body, it came down to balancing vitamin levels so the body functions at its best – which does not seem like a ridiculous claim to me.  Here is the “plan” she wanted me on – I’d like to not that she wasn’t really giving me a choice, she proposed this plan as if it was the way I had to do things.  There was no talk about whether I was comfortable with any of it or not.

But anyways, the plan.  She wanted me to take supplements, and lots of them.  She said that I had to “stock up” since my body is depleted (stated as a fact, she didn’t really care about testing).  So I’d be taking a ridiculous amount for a month or two, then scale back:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3s
  • Probiotics
  • multivitamin + minerals
  • turmeric

This is about the time in the appointment I started to doubt my decision to see this doctor.  In general, I don’t like to take any medicines or supplements without real reason – so the idea of loading up on supplements did not appeal to me, especially since the only reason to do so was on the word of this one doctor – who didn’t even provide substantial support for her claims.

She also wanted me to follow what she called a “modified Paleo diet”, which consisted of:

  • diet should consist of 75-80% vegetation
  • 25% healthy oils
  • 15% protein – from veg, legumes, fish, red meat
  • meals with 28 different varieties of vegetation (yowza)
  • avoid: coffee, black tea, ALL sugars, grains, milk products, packaged foods, oranges/grapefruits (what?), alcohol, chocolate (uh huh, yeah…), GMOs (all corn, soy, canola), fruit juice, excessive fruit in general (berries and stone fruits okay)

In addition, I was to find an acupuncturist, and get acupuncture to regulate my cycle. This is something I’m willing to do, but it’s certainly not cheap.

This is extreme, to say the least.  Do I believe it is doable?  Maybe for some, and maybe at a different time in my life, but for me, now, I think it’s extreme.  I have no doubt that if I did all that she “prescribed”, that I would feel fantastic.  I’m almost certain my digestion/GI issues would go away, and I would probably have more energy and less ups and downs.

Would it help my amenhorrea? I have no idea.  And at this point in my life, I’m not prepared to make such dramatic lifestyle changes.  I’m in college.  I’m trying to live - and doing all of this would just be too much for me to take on.  It would get in the way of life - and goodness knows I can’t do that to myself anymore.

Part 3:  The Next Steps <– coming soon.

Have you ever seen an integrative medical practitioner? How was your experience?

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