Integrative Medicine in Pediatric Care

Integrative medicine is being practiced more and more regularly as a part of a holistic approach to medicine for adults, and recently it has begun making waves in pediatric care as well. 1 in 10 children receive integrative medicine, and more than 50% of children with a chronic illness partake. As I am not a pediatrician but internal medicine doc, and realize toddlers are not just little people I do respect the opinion of those that have been trained in this tender age group. Most recently our son came down with a cough which lasted a bit longer than a few days, and I was strongly recommended by the many women in our family to take our young son to the urgent care “just to make sure” there was nothing else making him ill given my limitations. I was nicely surprised when the pediatrician recommended tea with honey to relieve a post nasal drip cough which was the final diagnosis. Therefore, it is vital to understand how integrative medicine works and why it can be useful for parents to incorporate it. In order to understand the positive effects, let’s look at some examples.

Massage

Nobody is going to complain about getting a massage, but did you know massages do more for your body than simply make you feel good? Livestrong posted an article about the positive effects of massage therapy. Some of the most common include decreased stress, pain relief, increased circulation, and immune system function. All of these benefits are good for anyone at any age, but starting massage therapy at a young age can increase the benefits as time goes on.

Nutrition

Diet is an important part of everyone’s life, and instilling good diet habits early can set a child up for a healthy, happy life. It is shown that a poor diet has lasting negative consequences in children. This includes both physical and mental troubles, which can range from obesity to depression. Poor nutrition can also correlate to a number of eating disorders down the line, and studies have shown that eating disorders are popping up in younger children all the time. In order to combat diseases down the line, stick to a well-rounded nutritional plan.

Yoga

Exercise is good for everyone, but yoga is a specific type of exercise that incorporates flexibility, strength, and mental focus. The physical benefits of yoga can often be greater in children than in adults, as children are continuing to grow. Furthermore, yoga can be incorporated with meditation to provide an outlet for calm introspection, which children may not naturally have.

Art/Dance/Music

Art and music are some of the most popular forms of self-expression. There are numerous studies about the positive effects in children, at Arts.gov recently there was a published study linking art and music involvement to lower alcohol and marijuana consumption, higher optimism about attending college, and less engagement in delinquency. Dance is also lumped into the arts, and even better it has the added benefit of exercise.

Integrative medicine is a large topic that includes many categories. Not every category is right for every child, but exploring the possibilities can allow you to make the best decision on what is right for your family. At the end of the day, it is crucial to understand and acknowledge that integrative medicine is an important part of life and it is unlikely to go away.

Be Kind To Your GI tract: Understanding Prebiotics VS. Probiotics

You’ve seen them at the drugstore. Boxes and boxes of probiotics that make claims about helping all manner of the stomach, gastrointestinal issues from supporting digestive immunity to straightening out digestive issues. It’s all a bit confusing, but this discussion offers a primer on both:

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics naturally live in some foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickles and other dairy products, but they can also be prescribed or purchased in a pill form. People are often advised to take them to combat the gastrointestinal side effects of some medications such antibiotics. Some people also opt to take them as a daily supplement to replace the good bacteria in their digestive tracts that can disappear for a variety of reasons. Studies have shown that probiotics have the ability to combat some gastrointestinal disorders but must not forget about prebiotics, which also is very important.

What is a Prebiotic?

A prebiotic is classified as a specialized plant fiber that encourages the nourishment of good bacteria that is already in the digestive tract. While probiotics produce good bacteria back into the digestive system, probiotics are in a sense a fertilizer for the good bacteria that already resides there. Studies show that by using prebiotics to increase the good to bad ratio of bacteria has a positive effect on well-being including digestive function, brain function and more.

In short, here is a comparison of the two:

Probiotics:

  •      Control the growth of harmful strains of bacteria in the GI tract.
  •      Hundreds of available brands.
  •      Live in yogurt, fermented foods, and pills.
  •      Can be killed by stomach acid, heat, or time.
  •      Have been shown to induce remission of Ulcerative Colitis US when refractory to medication
  •      Reduce the frequency of diarrhea in patients with stable, active Crohn’s Disease (CD) however postoperative CD has not benefited

Prebiotics:

  •      A special form of non-digestible dietary fiber that helps grow the good bacteria in your GI tract.
  •      Comes in powder form or in some foods like bananas, oatmeal, asparagus, bran, psyllium husk, and more.
  •      Chicory Root has the highest density of prebiotics.
  •      Nourishes the good bacteria in the gut.
  •      Have been shown to be effective for some chronic GI disorders such as ulcerative colitis.

Can I use either one to replace medications for stomach disorders?

No, you should never stop taking any medication without consulting your doctor. Studies on both prebiotics and probiotics are very preliminary, but they may help alleviate some symptoms.

Can I take both probiotics and prebiotics?

Yes, it’s safe to take both at the same time, but it’s still advisable to speak to your doctor first before doing this.

Do things like soy and almond milk contain probiotics?

No, most of them do not contain probiotics.

When should I take prebiotics or probiotics?

Any time is a good time to try taking them to see if they make a difference to the functioning of your digestive system and support your general health.  Again, studies are still in the early stages, and our knowledge of the GI microflora is still in its infancy.  That being said, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence from patients that say they do help tremendously, and anticipation of clinical data is eagerly anticipated.

Who should not take probiotics?

Immunocompromised or critically people should, for the most part, avoid probiotics. Please check with your doctor as each case is unique.


To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans using integrative medical care, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.

Struggle with Sleep Apnea: Three Exercises to Try

Sleep disorders are common in the modern age, and many struggle with sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops and starts repeatedly as people sleep. People with sleep apnea are commonly recognized by a loud snoring and daytime fatigue. Luckily, there are a few exercises people can try to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea:

Throat exercises

One great exercise for sleep apnea victims is to chew gum (or practice chewing gum) for a few minutes. While performing this exercise, people should pay keen attention to make sure they are doing the exercise correctly:

  • Make sure molars touch. The molars should touch slightly and move apart a little on both sides.
  • Keep mouth closed. Lips should be touching throughout the whole exercise.
  • Make humming sounds. The throat opens better when making humming sounds while chewing.

Although an easy exercise, it can make the jaw a little sore. Slowly adding time to the fake chewing can make the transition less exhausting. People can also ease their mild to moderate sleep apnea by learning how to play the didgeridoo or practicing singing.

Tongue exercises

Most of the time when people with sleep apnea snore, the tongue collapses and blocks the airway. One way to remedy this is by sticking out the tongue and holding it place for a few moments. They should do this repeatedly shortly before bedtime.

People should also try to slide the tongue from the back of the teeth to the back of the mouth and hold it in place about ten times before bed. This will help strengthen the tongue and prevent its collapse while reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Yoga exercises

The breathing techniques associated with yoga are great ways to reduce stress and, in turn, improve sleep quality. A subgenre of yoga, Yoga Nidra, promotes sleep.

These breathing exercises help to increase lung capacity (which increases oxygen capacity) while helping the body to relax. Sleep apnea victims should perform these exercises in the evening before sleep.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea is a difficult sleep disorder to overcome. However, there are many exercises to make sleeping through the night more comfortable. Those who suffer from sleep apnea could also benefit from making some lifestyle changes. They should aim to exercise regularly, quit smoking, avoid drinking alcohol, and (possibly) lose weight. They should also stay on a regular sleep schedule and avoid ingesting caffeine around bedtime.

The Easy Choice: Holistic Care Lowers Costs and Pain

Quality medical care is increasingly difficult to find and expensive to obtain. Because of this problem, many people have started to seek out other methods and sources of medical information in order to care for themselves and those they love. Holistic medicine has modern implications, but, though its popularity is on the rise, it’s hardly a new trend. Even as far back as the 1970s and prior, holistic health has been challenging the status quo of the medical field.

Lower Costs

One motivating factor that drives people to seek out alternative or holistic care is the fact that it’s much cheaper than traditional medical services. Holistic health is a business, to be sure, but it’s not regulated by government, legislated to the hilt, and subject to the same standards as many medical procedures are. Furthermore, the profit margin on, say, a prescription for an antibiotic is much higher than the profit margin on a natural antibiotic. With a single ER visit, patients could tally up a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s no wonder, then, that spending a hundred dollars or so on a holistic practitioner and a few more dollars on a natural remedy is so appealing.

Lower Pain

Holistic care is often mocked by the mainstream medical community. However, many wonder if the reason for that mockery isn’t fear. After all, if holistic medicine works, it poses a great challenge and threat to special interest groups and Big Pharma. Whole body healing is a major focus of holistic ideology, and it’s something the medical community doesn’t always excel at. Holistic medicine is wonderful at reducing pain, inflammation, and stress, and its focus on healing the actual cause of the problem instead of putting a prescription bandage over the symptom makes it effective.

It’s easy to see why so many people are turning to holistic health remedies. Not only is the current economic climate motivating patients to seek out less expensive treatments, the effectiveness of holistic treatments is more widely accepted. Society is becoming more and more tolerant of alternative viewpoints, making holistic treatment options seem less scary and easier to embrace. While Big Pharma and the medical industry inflates prices and legislates their way to high profit margins and overpriced insurance, people are finding that the simple, effective, and inexpensive methods of holistic medicine are more than worth a second look.

Understanding Holistic Care in Relation to Chronic Illness

In my recent blog post “Understanding Approaches for Pain Management and Patient Care”  I speak on the lasting effects of holistic health care and the benefits that it has in terms of managing pain and taking care of the “whole” patient.

Before I get started, it is important to mention that the holistic approach to health does not reject conventional medicine, but is a sensible, complete form of healing that considers your child’s entire picture of health and uses the best and most appropriate options for healing. It is a process of strengthening every system of the mind-body and allowing your child’s natural healing potential to flourish.

Many of the chronic health problems that affect children will respond best when addressed from a holistic point of view.

Conventional v.s Alternative Medicine

Aside from conventional medicine, alternative medicine covers a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies that can be used alone, in combination with other alternative therapies, or along with conventional medicine. Most homeopaths, naturopaths, and doctors  of oriental medicine are holistic practitioners, considering all aspects of their patients and assisting them in achieving a vibrant state of health.

But not all alternative practitioners can be considered holistic, nor is a conventional medical doctor necessarily not holistic. Alternative practitioners who believe that all disease is caused by vitamin deficiencies or spinal misalignments are no more holistic than a medical doctor who believes that all illness is caused by germs.

When it comes to medicine, it is beneficial to not have an either/or attitude. Both conventional and alternative have an important place in health care and can make a powerful team in certain situations.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine (another word for holistic medicine) is an emerging system of health care practiced by medical doctors who respect all valid systems of healing, recognizing the value of each one.

Alternative and conventional treatments are combined in order to meet the needs of the patient on all levels of healing. The treatments that are the most effective in helping the patient are the ones used. It is not a matter of what type of medicine is better. It is a matter of what works for each patient.

 

 

For more on holistic care and ways to find doctors in your area visit drgregoryburzynski.net

Beyond the Pill: How Integrative Medicine Provides Holistic Care

Doctors Looking to Treating the Whole Person
Going to the doctor can be no fun. So much so that many people avoid it like the plaque. What if there was a doctor that did more than just looked at the problem and tried to fix it but got to know their patients as a person instead. They looked at the whole person, the whole being instead of individual parts. This is called being holistic and is the idea behind integrative medicine.
According to Katherine Kam, the goal of integrative medicine is to “treat the mind, body, and spirit, all at the same time.” Some of the ways integrative medicine goes beyond pills is by teaching their patients about different treatments. These treatments could include yoga, herbal medicines, messages, and tai chi. Naturally, the doctor will not be able to do all of this for the patient. Therefore, the therapists to work together with the doctors, all focusing on helping the patient get better in every aspect. In order to achieve this, each member of the team must be respected and valued.
It is important to note that the number one advocate in the group will be the patient themselves. They must be sure to eat healthy, workout, and get enough sleep. Western society can make this difficult; however, working with the proper team can leave a patient, and their physician, feeling better than they did to begin with and with little to no help from the expensive pharmaceutical system. This has benefits and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is the potential for the holistic remedies will take longer than traditional medicine. This means forgoing our desire for instant gratification. At the same time, Dr. Sheldon T. Ceaser reminds Melody K. Hoffman that, “They (the patient) are not going to be able to buy a twenty or thirty dollar product and expect it to turn around major chronic illnesses” (p. 15). Another drawback is the cost of eating healthier; however, growing produce can help offset the cost. The benefits may outweigh the drawbacks as a patient feels better in every aspect of their health.
Integrative medicine is changing the face of the medical community. Hospitals in the United States offering complimentary therapies have more than doubled while twenty-four percent of hospitals plan to add these therapies in the future (webmd). The number one advocate for our health is the patient, as they search for the type of doctor such as Dr. Ceaser, that will treat the whole person and not just the problem.

Resources:
Hoffman, M.K. (2009, August 10). Healing Held in Holistic Health. Jet, Vol. 116 (4), pp. 14-15.
Kam, K. (2009, April 16). What is Integrative Medicine? Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-medicine-integrative-medicine#1