Exploring the three dimensional world of wellness and finding the root cause of problems rather than putting band aids on symptoms has been the focus of my integrative women’s practice of 33 years. Being an internist women’s health specialist trained in Integrative medicine has been my passion. Combining the gifts of thousands of years of eastern medical practices with the advances of modern medicine is the only way to help people express their best, regardless of what their “genetic deck” has dealt them. Respecting the body of literature that supports the integrative approach and educating allopathically trained colleagues to become more open to the union of the “best of both worlds” allows us to start affecting change in the way western medicine is practiced.
We are witnessing an unprecedented rise in autoimmune illnesses in less than a generation of medical professional’s lifetimes. Certainly not a result of genetic influences as no genetically mediated illness can surge in incidence as autoimmune illnesses have in less than a generation. Being mindful of things such as environmental pollution and toxins and stressors of 21st century living is paramount in understanding of the rise of “mystery illnesses” that we are faced with in clinical practice on a daily basis.
Women have traditionally been afflicted by more of the autoimmune conditions than men but those differences are quickly becoming less prominent as we are all victims of stress and toxins on a daily basis.
However, many of the poorly understood symptoms of hormonal imbalances and stress are still perceived by many in the mainstream medical community as psychosomatic and / or not significant merely because no abnormalities are detected in typical allopathic testing.
Fortunately, the field of integrative medicine is rapidly evolving and there are many well informed and trained medical professionals who are able to help. Women need to turn to forums that can direct them to professional organizations that can help them find providers with training in the field of integrative medicine and compassion needed to understand and not dismiss their concerns.
A thorough medical history including family history, history of environmental exposures, dietary history and psycho-social history are of paramount importance to start sorting out the myriad of symptoms.
Very often a common denominator is the history of either exposure to hormonal disrupters through dietary or medical intervention means or to issues relevant to the gut – and almost always there are ways to identify stressors in the lives of those presenting with those non-specific symptoms that eventually lead to diagnosis of Hashimoto’s.
Finding adequate time and being trained to listen and not prematurely close a hypothesis about what’s wrong with the patient is the key to adequate diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Unfortunately our medical system is beginning to fail us on many fronts, not the least of which is allowing adequate time for the patient encounter to obtain a thorough history. One of my famous physician mentors always said that accurate history is 90% of the diagnosis. How does that happen in a 7 to 12 minute medical encounter? It does not…
Integrative practitioners commonly spend more time with their patients. In our practice that means at least 60 minutes at the first visit and no less than 30 min in subsequent encounters. It’s amazing what allowing the patient a proper amount of guided inquiry will yield! Time truly is of the essence.
4. What would your practice offer a Hashimoto’s patient that they might not find elsewhere at another more mainstream medical practice?
As stated above we listen and we hear!
We do a battery of tests that often go beyond the traditional investigative work up offered by mainstream practitioners. We also offer telemedicine consults and evaluation of data acquired by other practitioners.
We see the thyroid as part of the “hormonal symphony” and often look for deficiencies in other endocrine organs as those are commonly found in Hashimoto’s patients. We provide a thorough nutritional and lifestyle analysis and counseling, complete with intracellular nutrient testing, when appropriate. We also appreciate the importance of gut microbiome and look for its integrity as we formulate an organ system based approach to healing a patient with an endocrine / autoimmune condition as they are likely to have more than one imbalance in their immune system.
We educate and empower our patients on becoming a partner in the quest to their optimum health through helping us clean the environment of influences of toxins that surround us by understanding their deleterious effect on our health.
5. If you could give a newly diagnosed Hashimoto’s patient one piece of advice, what would that be? What is the most important thing for them to know in that early part of their journey?
Clean up your lifestyle! Detoxify seasonally, as we can escape the polluted environment. Make sure you’re doing all you can to support the health of your gut and balance your hormones. Simple but complex! Each patient is unique but everyone on the planet needs to aim at a clean, green, toxin free life.