Friday, July 20, 2012

What exactly is integrative medicine?

Dr. Donald Levy to speak in Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Dr. Donald Levy

Dr. Donald Levy, an advocate for the integration of conventional Western and traditional Eastern medicines, will provide insights on the "care of the self in body and mind" at Zenergy in Ketchum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 24.

Levy, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor and director of the Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has said he believes that the Western and Eastern schools of medicinal thought are not mutually exclusive. In fact, he contends, both approaches should be used synergistically to provide the best health care.

Levy likens Western doctors to car mechanics and Eastern practitioners to gardeners.

"A gardener must prepare the soil, add the best nutrients, trim off the bad stuff," he said. "But sometimes you need to completely switch out some parts and change the oil. That's when you call in the mechanic.

"Sometimes your body needs a mechanic, sometimes a gardener. I like both. Medicine becomes more exciting and powerful than ever when you integrate both methods."

A news release from Maryland-based private health advisory PinnacleCare, the company responsible for bringing Levy to the Wood River Valley, describes his concept of integrative medicine as combining "conventional medical treatments with complementary therapies, and [giving] patients the tools they need to be more proactive participants in their own health care. Therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, dietary change, yoga, therapeutic massage and mindfulness-based stress reduction can be used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment or as part of a preventive program aimed at simply maintaining good health."

Another way to look at it is to consider how people might treat trauma injuries versus chronic illness.

"If you're in an accident, go to the emergency room," Levy said. "If you have a chronic illness or a high probability of developing a hereditary disease at some point in the future, alternative methods can have great long-term results."

Levy said that at his clinic in Boston, he likes to have both options "under one roof."

"I have chiropractors and acupuncturists working alongside Western-trained MDs."

Beyond caring for patients in his clinic, Levy has taught medical students, residents, fellows and physicians at Harvard Medical School about the art and scientific principles of medicine from both the East and the West for more than 30 years.

When asked how he became interested in practicing complementary and integrative medicine, he said, "I found myself running out of tools and options to properly care for my patients' health. The Western model has many strengths, but it has its limitations without alternatives such as chiropractic and acupuncture."

Why buy just the slotted screwdrivers when you can get the big toolbox with the Phillips, hex and Torx bits too?

To RSVP for the free event, call 725-0595.

Brennan Rego:

Topics of discussion

Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions on how they may take tangible steps to improve their well-being today and maintain their health in the future. The discussion will cover topics including:

- What is "integrative medicine?"

- Weight-loss diets almost always fail; what is a sensible way to eat?

- How can we tell the difference between help and hype when it comes to dietary supplements?

- What is stress? Should we always avoid it?

- What can we do to maintain a healthy, well-functioning brain?

- Is our destiny in our DNA? Just how important is our lifestyle?

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