Welcome to the World of Integrative Medicine!
Dr. Pennington made the decision to pursue Integrative Medicine in order facilitate healing among surgical patients. She realized that operating on a surgical condition like cancer or inflammatory bowel disease simply removed the disease process, but did not always return a patient to complete health. Returning a patient to their “pre-surgical” condition often leads to recurrent disease that required additional surgery years later. Integrative Medicine helps facilitate a partnership with patients and promotes eliminating disease processes and thus truly returns patients to complete health.
Dr. Pennington completed a two year fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona under Dr. Andrew Weil, MD. The two year curriculum included training in Nutrition, Micronutrients and Supplements, Botanical Medicine, Spirituality & Health Care, Mind-Body Medicine, Manual Medicine, and the study of whole systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, and Ayurveda. Another area Dr. Pennington embraced was the field of Energy Medicine, which she finds overlaps with Spirituality to a great extent.
Pictured at Left: Dr. Andrew Weil presenting the signiture walking stick on graduation day!
Integrative Medicine is a healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person in mind, body, and spirit. It includes all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all evidence based appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. It does not discard traditional medicine and does not accept alternatives uncritically. It is the best of all healing modalities presented for custom holistic care.
Integrative Medicine Algorhithm
Partnership in Detective Work
The first aspect of Integrative Care involves a special relationship between the physician and patient. This partnership is unique in that it involves the exchange of a lot of information. Sometimes in-take forms are extensive and office visits may last up to 90 minutes or more. The most important thing is that you are given plenty of time to explain exactly what is going on physically and emotionally while identifying any lifestyle factors that may be contributing to disease processes. This is medical detective work. The goal is to discover any and all contributing factors that underlie disease processes.
Dr. Pennington will often ask patients to complete a one week diet diary which facilitates a nutritional assessment of daily protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake. We also measure fiber and water intake. It is important to understand your dietary preferences at home and when you eat out. The impact of time restrictions and food budget is also a factor when we discuss meal planning.
Medication and Supplements
There are many medications that cause nutrient and vitamin depletion, like antacids and diabetes medications. Others can cause constipation or diarrhea. The side effects often lead to the addition of more medications. Medications can also interact with supplements and impair the digestion and absorption of nutrients. It is very important to have a working knowledge of all pharmaceuticals, as well as supplements, to optimize benefits and decrease risks associated with medications.
When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is right, medicine is of no need.
Living Conditions and Environment
Living conditions are important to health and often overlooked. Living structures can be sources of exposure to harmful chemicals or heavy metals. Water sources may also be an issue. Exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to the exacerbation of asthma and allergies. Personal hygiene products are also a significant source of chemical exposure. You may be asked to give a complete inventory of any products you use including soaps, shampoo, make-up, deodorants, self-tanning products, etc. Even the vapors from new carpets and new cars can trigger reactions in sensitive people.
What exercise do you crave?
Stress is defined as what we do when our basic needs are not being met. Basic needs include proper nutrition, restful sleep, and attention to the mind-body connection. Identifying stressors is key to returning the body to homeostasis. If there is excess stress related to work, family, or home conditions then your treatment plan will likely include strategies to lower stress levels safely utilizing botanicals and mind-body interventions like yoga, tai-chi, or massage.
Custom Care Plan
A custom care plan is designed based on your specific needs and focuses on gradual life style changes that are introduced slowly so that you have time to adapt without added stress. Lifestyle changes are rewarding and often completely reverse disease processes. Many people find that with the correct diet and supplements, medications are no longer needed. Engagement in physical activity is well known to reduce stress and depression. Simple acts of daily meditations have amazing benefits. Your best results may come from the world of aromatherapy or acupuncture depending on the underlying disease process. By being open to new treatment paradigms you offer yourself a world of possibilities!
Spirituality & Health
Spirituality often plays a tremendous role in comfort and stress-reduction. What is your spiritual practice? How does it factor into your life? Do you have a spiritual community or support system? Exploring these basic questions can uncover untapped resources that can aid in health and well-being.