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Johns Hopkins Health - A World of Difference

Winter 2015
Issue No. 27

A World of Difference

Date: January 6, 2015

Integrative medicine blends the best of all healing methods for optimized patient-centered care


herbs and natural health remedies

Tony Golden spent nine years suffering from debilitating bouts of nausea and vomiting. No one could get to the root of his problem other than identifying it as a gastrointestinal issue.

That all changed when he found John Clarke, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins. Clarke diagnosed cyclic vomiting syndrome and sent Golden to Jeff Gould, L.Ac., an acupuncturist and herbalist at the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center.

“I referred Tony because he had not responded to conventional medical therapy alone,” Clarke says, “and I have had some patients respond exceptionally well to acupuncture with regard to nausea and vomiting.”

Says Golden, “The first time I saw Jeff Gould, I had an immediate improvement.”

In addition to acupuncture, Golden was prescribed Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements that promoted healing in the early phase of treatment.

The combination of conventional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine was successful, and Golden’s symptoms disappeared. He is working again and playing sports, both of which were challenging while he was sick.

Integrative medicine is an approach that pays attention to the physical, psychological and spiritual components of illness. It often synchronizes carefully selected healing methods to enhance conventional care, says Linda Lee, M.D., a gastroenterologist and the center’s director. “I look for evidence-based healing modalities, because I don’t want a patient trying a therapy that has never been tested without fully understanding the potential consequences,” she explains.

For example, one study of women with cancer who developed hot flashes after having their ovaries removed showed that acupuncture delivered more effective, longer-lasting relief than medication. “Even a well-designed study of a small number of patients can show benefits,” she says, “and if there are few side effects, all the better.”

Searching for Balance

A focus on the mind is essential to health in the body, says Linda Lee, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center.

“When you are chronically ill and have chronic symptoms, your thoughts and behaviors can evolve around those symptoms,” she says. “Part of healing is to recognize that sometimes those thoughts and behaviors have to be treated, too.”

Lee also underscores the importance of listening carefully to patients and choosing appropriate therapies.

“One of the principles of integrative medicine is to spend enough time with patients to fully understand what their values are—personal, cultural—and also to understand their concept of wellness and healing,” she says. “Spending time listening to the patient is therapeutic as well.” This knowledge is used to help people decide what they are most comfortable integrating into their care plan.

“We hear about patient-centered care all the time,” Lee says, “and integrative medicine is the ultimate in patient-centered care.”

Johns Hopkins believes in treating the whole person, not just the parts. To learn more about the Integrative Medicine & Digestive Center, watch a video at hopkinsmedicine.org/integrativemed.

The Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center

The Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center uses the best evidence-based practices to enhance conventional care by treating patients with all types of health conditions, including those wishing to learn more about preventive health and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

 

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