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Integrative Medicine

Rashmi Gulati, MD, is the Medical Director of Patients Medical in New York City, specializing in both Internal and Integrative medicine. With residencies in pathology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Gulati’s holistic approach blends the very best of evidence-based Western medicine with traditional Eastern medical paradigms.
View Rashmi's full Bio
Q: How does integrative medicine work with conventional medicine?
A:

Integrative medicine is defined by the National Institute of Health as “an approach to medicine that combines treatments from conventional medicine and [complementary and alternative medicine] for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.” I find integrative medicine to be the path that best helps patients long-term. It combines the art of ancient healing wisdom from India, Asia, Europe and North America with objective clinical data to support total wellness. Conventional medicine is a very scientific way to diagnose, but listening to the patient and really hearing their story, trying to find the most natural way to help the body heal itself, taking into consideration mind and spirit as well, is much more holistic and yields the best results over a lifetime. A patient can use an integrative medical doctor as a primary care physician or can have a conventional medicine doctor as well. Acute conditions and situations where surgery is necessary are best suited for conventional medicine. However, integrative doctors are great at prevention, maintenance and treatment of conditions that conventional medicine may not address completely, such as chronic pain, digestive disorders, heavy metal toxicity, hormonal imbalance, neurotransmitter challenges and much more.

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Q: What is holistic medicine?
A:

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary holistic means “relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.” I think that’s a very accurate description of holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine differs from conventional medicine in both evaluation and treatment. To illustrate how these differences occur, imagine there is a patient with a rash on her arm. A conventional doctor would probably give the patient a 10-15 minute exam, during which they would spend the most time examining and diagnosing only the rash on her arm. A holistic doctor will definitely examine the rash, but will spend 30-45 minutes with a more extensive exam, including asking about the patient’s total health—what they’ve eaten, their environment, stress factors—and may even perform diagnostics to test for food allergies, digestion, hormonal balance, vitamin or mineral deficiency and much more. The holistic doctor views the symptom as a blessing because it alerts us to the fact that there is a deeper imbalance and would consider all factors—inside the body and outside the body—in diagnosis.

Treatment would differ as well. In the conventional doctor scenario, the doctor would probably prescribe a cream or pill that should make the rash go away. That may be the result that the patient is looking for, so everyone is happy…short term, at least. But what happens if the rash comes back, or if there is an adverse reaction to the pill or cream? The holistic doctor would find out what is causing the rash and address it. So, for instance, if the rash were being caused by excess toxicity in the liver, the holistic doctor would recommend that the patient does a liver cleanse, including supplements, healthier eating, plenty of rest and maybe some intravenous nutrient therapy in the treatment plan. If the rash is causing discomfort, a natural salve may be recommended to ease the pain until the inflammation can be resolved from the inside-out.

In holistic medicine, we seek to find the root cause for any symptoms and balance the body for total wellness, as naturally as possible, so as not to disrupt other systems in the body with side effects.
 

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