RONALD R. PARKS, M.D., PLLC
INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE & PSYCHIATRY

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Gluten and Its Association With Illness

Vitamin D Importance
In Prevention and Treatment of Illness

Allergies & Sensitivities: LDA (Ultra Low Dose Enzyme Activated Immunotherapy)

Post Traumatic Environmental Stress Disorder

Peace of Mind: Holistic Approaches to Anxiety and ADD

Bipolar Disorder Can Be Treated With Medication and Naturally

ALLERGY REDUCTION:
Improving Mood and Energy

Hidden Factors Behind Your Persistent Illness 

Adult ADD:
To Medicate or Go Natural

Cancer Ė Finding Your Best Advisor

Overweight - The Risk and the Remedy

Loss of Sexual Interest

Approaches in Helping Bipolar Sufferers

Help for Panic and Anxiety Sufferer

Seasonal Affective Disorder: The Winter Blues

Depression Relief Speeds Health Recovery

Amino Acids & Other Considerations in Depression Evaluation

Integrative Medicine & Psychiatry

Blood Pressure -
A Wake up Call

Addictions - Breaking the Cycle

Suboxone: For Opiate Dependence
(for Western North Carolina Residents Only)

Spirituality:
The Core of Healing in Integrative Psychiatry

Integrative Medicine &
Psychiatry
By Ronald R. Parks, MD

Integrative Medicine and Psychiatry represent a bridge between the best of conventional medicine and science with the innovative approaches found in nutrition and natural alternatives. Alternative, complementary, or integrative medicine in addition to many conventional medical practices and therapeutics also includes, utilizes, or supports a range of therapeutic practices not commonly accepted, taught or used in mainstream U.S. medicine. What is considered alternative medicine in our country represents the mainstream medicine for 80% of the world's population. Acupuncture and herbal medicine for example is widely used and accepted in other countries, while slowly being recognized and fully utilized in this country. There is a vast scientific literature on the safe and positive outcomes with use of natural alternatives and healing methods in the treatment of both common and complex illnesses. It is estimated that one third of the U.S. population has explored alternative types of health care and natural healing methods. The amount of money being spent by U.S. consumers for alternative types of care exceeds 14 billion dollars by some reports. A growing number of U.S. medical schools offer course in natural and alternative healing methods. Consumers are seeking out competent practitioners that combine the training, experience and skills of conventional western medicine with those in the areas of nutrition, natural alternatives and in the advanced investigational laboratory techniques related to the field of integrative medicine.

In traditional medicine the splitting of mind and body into the two different separate fields, medicine and psychiatry, on the positive side, has led to many advances in the science and applications of some beneficial treatment modalities. On the negative side it has led to a very narrow approached mostly based on the use pharmaceutical products and drugs, or invasive and intrusive intervention as surgery or expensive hospitalizations. However now consumers and a growing number of traditionally trained health care practitioners recognize the greater benefits of integration of the vast array of natural treatment methods with some of these beneficial therapeutic modalities and medical techniques from modern Western medicine and psychiatry. As there is also recognition of the greater healing potential of addressing needs of the body, mind, and spirit, integrative medicine and holistic psychiatry have emerged as the new paradigms for health care. The evolution towards this more integrative and holistic approach has occurred as more scientists and specialty trained physicians have increasingly incorporated into their practices the use of natural alternatives, nutrition and newer cutting edge scientific investigational methods. These more advanced and innovative method of assessment and testing support and give directions to unlocking some of the mysteries of illnesses and symptoms which have perplexed conventional medicine and "the chronic suffers" for many years. Some the new advanced investigational testing, though accepted by leading scientists and researchers, has not found its way into mainstream medicine, but is being made available by physician that have been well trained in conventional medicine as well as integrative medicine and psychiatry.

To explore and better understand integrative medicine and holistic psychiatry let us follow a fictional person with a number of problems going through conventional mainstream care as compared to receiving help from an integrative and holistic practitioner. This person could be a man or women, but let us say the person seeking treatment is a fifty-three year old woman, recently divorced, with two grown children, with the recent death of her mother and best friend, all in the past year. She is in process of changing jobs and has noticed increasing fatigue, difficulty sleeping through the night with frequent hot flashes and night sweats, frequently intolerant to cold with dry skin, weight gain, high blood pressure, occasional panic attacks, depressed mood, and occasional thought of being better off dead. If seen by mainstream health care provider, or a specialty physician, the focus might go to one of symptoms, which would probably result in a drug. A family practitioner or internist might miss the depression and panic attacks entirely, especially if the person didn't bring it up during the usually very brief encounter or if this person was reluctant to talk about it. A more psychologically oriented practitioner might recognize the depression and put her on an antidepressant as Prozac and possibly refer her to a social worker for counseling or to a psychiatrist who also would put her on an antidepressant. If initially she had see a gynecologist or if the family doctor picked up on the menopausal symptoms she would be placed on hormone replacement with common drugs as Premarin and Provera. The high blood pressure finding would result in high blood pressure medication. If her cholesterol or blood sugar were high, which is likely with her weight gain and poor nutrition, she probably would be put on a drug to lower cholesterol, another to lower blood sugar, and probably a diet which she would unlikely follow given the degree of her depression. The antidepressant and other medications could contribute both to weight gain, and depression and other unpleasant side effects. This could go on and on with continuing significant symptoms and continued poor physical and emotional health with the solution being only more drugs for any given symptom or finding. If these didn't work a person might be accused of it being all in the "head" or that they weren't following recommendation completely enough or of being a failure in making the necessary adjustments or life changes.

A visit to a health care provider skilled in integrative medicine and psychiatry would be hopefully quite different. The initial visit would most likely be longer with a lot of empathetic listening to the details of the many losses, traumas and pain this person has suffered. The time and careful listening would clarify the degree of difficulty she has had in adapting and adjusting to the changes in her health, and the devastating impact of her many losses on her vulnerable psyche. Appreciation of the weight on her spirit and sense of being overwhelmed by the many painful factors with which she suddenly has to cope would become apparent in this process. If the practitioner couldn't provide the needed support and therapy work, a referral to a therapist skilled in working with depression, panic attacks, and the issues surrounding her current difficulties. If depression was life threatening and the person was suicidal, more traditional psychiatric treatment might be important along with use of medications or hospitalization. Investigational testing would look at hormone levels, as her symptoms point to thyroid deficiency, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone deficiency and possible low adrenal derived hormone, DHEA. Also a look for subclinical hypothyroidism would be done with more functional tests as at rest body temperatures, or measurement of free thyroid hormone in blood or 24 hour urine. Testing might be done on blood or 24-hour urine for nutritional and metabolic abnormalities by looking at amino acids the smallest component of protein or at intracellular levels for minerals deficiencies, which can play havoc on body functioning and chemistries. Saliva tests for adrenal functioning, which might be impaired given her level of stress and exhaustion would be consideration. Looking for underlying or contributing environmental factors, as allergies to inhalants, chemicals or foods would be important. Accumulation of toxic metals as mercury can lead to failing health, immune system problems and neurologic symptoms including depression and fatigue. Testing the body's detoxification capacity is important as we live in an increasingly toxic environment and prevention of accumulated waste may reduce or prevent future illness. Also checking for adequate antioxidant defenses and activity in our bodies can help with dietary choices and supplements. Sometime a simple test likes doing an elimination diet looking for hidden food intolerance or allergies can be of critical importance. If there were a lot of digestive or problems with elimination or irritable bowel symptoms, an evaluation of intestinal digestive function and exam for yeast and parasites would be considered. Lack of the proper amount of basic nutrients and essential fatty acids, as found in fish and flaxseed oil may be lacking and would be checked. A choice or option if testing was not desired would be to try some of the natural alternatives as indicated by the history and clinical examination to determine their need and effectiveness in resolving underlying issues or problems.

There are many natural alternatives or choices that may be helpful to this person and would be discussed along with the types of available testing if desired. The background of the practitioner and preference of the person seeking support and help would influence choices and alternatives. Integrative medicine practitioners would first look to the use of natural substances for replacement of any deficiencies found as identical to natural hormones if low estrogens, progesterone, or testosterone, or thyroid. Improvement in basic nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and use of vitamin, mineral, herbs, amino acids, would be a choice over drugs whenever appropriate. To enhance energy, reduce stress, and increase health and wellbeing, complete systems might be introduced or recommended as yoga, Chi Gong, or macrobiotics and its advanced nutritional system. Encouragement is often given to strengthen the persons social support group and encouraging activities to enhance spiritual growth and better integration into community life and activities. The individual or family seeking help in an integrative medicine and holistic psychiatry model would be considered a partner in the healing process with many choices and options. The outcome of our fictional case would be not only the return of their emotional and physical health, and sense of wellbeing, but also the finding of empowerment to be more self sufficient for the prevention and reduction of any future health problems. The strength of an integrative, holistic approach is not only its comprehensiveness and thoroughness and support for safer natural alternative, but also its respect for individual needs for choice and empowerment in the healing process.

Ron Parks, M.D. is a practitioner in Integrative Medicine and Psychiatry and is the Director of MacroHealth Medicine in Asheville. He helps people get to the roots of either their physical or emotional problems with thorough diagnostic interview, state of the art laboratory assessments, and comprehensive treatment. He received his M.D. from the University of Maryland and has completed specialty training in internal, family, preventive, and psychiatric medicine at several top University Medical Centers where he also has been assistant Professor of Medicine and Program Director. He has had extensive experience and training in nutritional, natural alternatives and environmental medicine. Dr. Parks is also a clinical consultant for the Doctors Data, Inc., a nationally respected clinical and research laboratory. For information or personal consultation Dr. Parks can be reached at (828) 225-1812.
 

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Ronald R. Parks, M.D., PLLC
INTEGRATIVE PSYCHIATRY & MEDICINE


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