We see Integrative Neurology as the best of both worlds and we have witnessed the powerful effects of many alternative therapies on patients with and without “conventional” treatment. Just as each patient experiences each neurologic disease differently with regard to symptoms and course of treatment, each integrative treatment plan is specifically tailored for the patient. One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to our health and well-being.
Conventional, or allopathic care, is what we have all come to expect when we go to see our doctors. It most commonly involves the use of pharmaceuticals but can also include injections, infusions, surgery, or physical therapy. This kind of treatment is evidenced-based and really does work for the majority of patients. But it doesn’t work for all and it does not come without problems, usually in the form of side effects. Some of these can be intolerable and some even life-threatening.
Alternative medicine, on the other hand, has historically not been offered to patients by allopathic physicians. Also called complementary, these treatments include such modalities as acupuncture, medicinal plant formulations, supplements, nutritional-based medicine, massage therapies, biofeedback, stress management, physical exercise and movement, and meditation. These treatment modalities can have a profound effect not only on the ability of the patient to manage the disease but on the disease process itself.
Integrative neurology focuses on a holistic view of the neurology patient. It is the practice of addressing the disease, the symptoms, the origins, and the patient’s quality of life. Sometimes conventional treatments take priority, other times alternative treatments do, but often a combination of both approaches is called for. Integrative neurology sees the patient as a functional individual and the approach is tailored to improve that individual’s functionality.
At Dandenong Neurology & Specialists Group, we have both the knowledge and experience of utilizing both forms of treatment. We strive to help the patient find a more optimal balance in their health and well-being. We have seen the power of alternative treatments alone or used with more conventional treatments for neurological disease including migraines, epilepsy, vasculopathies, chronic pain and inflammation, post-stroke, anxiety, neuropathies, and autoimmunity, to name a few. While not all diseases can be cured, most symptoms can be well managed using the best of both medical worlds.
We see every patient as unique, from genetics and family history to our life experiences. That’s why we believe in a personalized approach to health and healing, one that considers the whole person, not just their symptoms. Our patient-centered philosophy shifts away from the traditional model of addressing the disease first and, instead, focuses on what matters most—you.
As trained physicians, we believe in the body’s innate ability to seek wellness and equanimity. We draw upon decades of experience and knowledge to provide the best evidence-based, traditional and complementary therapies to treat the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. It’s an approach that is both preventative and integrative. We use food as medicine, acupuncture to heal, and herbs and supplements to support vitality. And we balance proven allopathic treatments with the curative and holistic nature of alternative medicine to address the root causes of neurological issues, from acute symptom relief to creating a vibrant, healthy lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in the power of the body to heal. I fiercely advocate for the use of whole foods, herbs, and certain supplements to help harness those natural powers we all possess. I see the efficacy of acupuncture, meditation, and exercise each and every day. And boy do I know how many things a good night of sleep can fix. But all these approaches still may not be enough to help us feel well.
Sadly, sometimes our bodies betray us. Things go wrong. We don’t always know why although sometimes we do. Cancer, autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disease, and many other things. And yes, we can absolutely significantly lower our risks of these dreaded diagnoses with appropriate lifestyle choices, no question. But despite our best efforts and positive intentions, sometimes things will still go wrong.
This is important because I see so many patients who try to eat, supplement, meditate, etc. their way out of what has really been a signal by their body that something is just not right. I have diagnosed TREATABLE diseases in some long suffering patients who have sought only the alternative or natural approach.
When disease strikes, we need to respond. Initial response can certainly be to look at our lives and what we can address. Are we sleeping enough? Are we eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables and minimizing pro-inflammatory consumption of dairy, meats, and processed foods? Are we exercising enough? Are we taking enough time for ourselves? This initial response should also include a look toward the medicinal plant world. Do the plants offer something that may help our symptoms? Plant medicine can be very beneficial without the side effects as they work with our natural physiology as opposed to suppressing our physiology.
But when we do all of the right things and things are STILL not right, well, then something is wrong. Your health is too important not to seek help from your physician. We cannot fear what may be right for our long term health. I often explain to patients that conventional medicine has a real role and it is nothing to be wary of, especially in the hands of a good physician. For when our body falls far from its natural balance, it cannot as easily heal itself, and natural approaches may not be powerful enough. It is a time when a little medicine may go a long way to get closer to where our bodies, and minds, need to be.
This is the power of true integrative medicine. It is the best of both worlds and includes a broad knowledge of the medicinal uses of foods and plants and alternative modalities but also a clinical acumen sensitive enough to know when we need to dig deeper and treat further.
My mission is to help everyone prevent everything. But I know enough to realize that is not always possible. I listen to patients and I listen to their bodies. You know your body better than anyone. So, stop, look, and listen to your body. And when you feel, see, or hear something, ask a physician to listen as well.