Alternative Therapies: Complementary & Integrative Medicine

Written by Panorama staff. July 2016

Embracing LifeThis collaborated event by Embracing Life and Social Services was a forum made up of six experts of different backgrounds, practices and fields. The purpose of this forum was to discuss complementary and integrative medicine, but what do those mean? Complementary medicine is when an individual uses non-mainstream medicines alongside conventional medicines. When non-mainstream medicine is used in place of conventional medicines, it is considered alternative. Integrative medicine combines both approaches in a coordinated way. The forum experts all spoke on different types of medicine or medical treatments that can be used as complementary or integrative medicine.

The members of the forum were Connie Ruhl, Michelle Bilodeau, Sonia Telesco, Kelly Golob, Tom Griffith, and Pamela Firth.

Connie is a retired Speech & Language Pathologist, as well as a certified yoga instructor. She discussed meditation and started with having the audience do a short meditation exercise. She explained that the purpose of meditation is to awaken us and provide clarity and personal renewal. Meditation is readily available to anyone and is adaptable to everyday life. Through meditation, we can learn the art of detangling our minds, learn skills of calmness and be at peace with oneself.

Michelle has a Master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and is the President/Founder of Hilltop Eastern Medicine Associates. She discussed Eastern medicine, namely acupuncture & herbal medicine. She stated that Eastern medicine considers the body to be like a garden, that all body parts are interconnected. There are different types of treatments in Eastern medicine, like meditation and Qi Gong, but acupuncture and herbal medicine are the most commonly known. Acupuncture, from an Eastern medical perspective, can help balance symptoms that occur from imbalances and complex energetic systems inside our bodies. When balance is restored, these symptoms diminish and, over time, disappear. From a Western scientific perspective, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation in the body, modulate the immune system, balance neurotransmitters in the brain, increase circulation and oxygen levels and many others.

Sonia is a massage therapist who specializes in providing medical massage for injury treatment and rehabilitation, as well as relaxation massage for stress reduction and wellness. While she emphasized that massage therapy is not a cure, it can help promote comfort and care. Massage therapy is an approach to hands-on comfort and is a tool used to assist the body in its own healing process. It is also a method of manipulating muscles and tissues, creating greater blood flow, calming nervous systems and reducing stress.

Kelly is a chiropractor who combines traditional chiropractic methods with contemporary sports medicine. His main focus when treating a patient is to discover why the patient’s pain or medical issue is happening. By helping you learn and understand your body more, chiropractors can more easily get to the cause of your body problems. Kelly states that his goal is to help his patients stay active and help them continue doing what they love to do.

Tom is a licensed primary care naturopathic physician. Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is an alternative medicine that uses a wide array of “natural” modalities, including homeopathy, herbalism, and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle counseling. Tom emphasized that we need to learn how to listen to our bodies. He stated that there are four practices of naturopathy:

  1. Do no harm to the patient
  2. Treat the cause of the disease
  3. Treat the whole person
  4. Know that the body wants to heal

Naturopathy is based on the idea of self-healing. With this in mind, Tom states that the goal is to empower patients to take care of themselves and allow them to make their own choices. Physicians are simply there to guide choices.

Pamela is an occupational therapist and a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu instructor and practitioner. Jin Shin Jyutsu translates to “art of the creator through man of knowing and compassion”. It is a mechanical technique that allows us to harmonize and balance ourselves by using our hands along 26 sets of energy lock points on our bodies. According to the Jin Shin Jyutsu website, it is “an art of harmonizing the life energy in the body” by releasing tensions that are the causes of various symptoms in our bodies. According to Pam, our bodies are made up of energy pathways that feed life and energy internally. When one or more of these paths get blocked, it can cause discomfort or pain and will continue to disharmonize the other energy paths. Using this style of acupressure, you can experience physical, mental, cognitive, and spiritual harmony and restore balance to your body.

The take away from these informative presentations is there are many treatments and techniques to explore, whether complementary, integrative, or conventional. Only you can know what your body is experiencing and feeling. It is important to search for what fits you and to advocate for yourself in order to embrace your life to the fullest.

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