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Integrative Medicine - What is It and Do You Need It?

Uncategorized Jan 20, 2020

Today I am going to shed some light on what integrative medicine is.  I am with Turning Point Integrative Health Center in Annapolis, Maryland.  They also have another location in Columbia, Maryland.  Today, I am joined by Dr. Danielle McDevitt and Nurse Practitioner, Katie Tolley.  We are going to have a fun and casual conversation on what integrative medicine is all about.  

Dr. McDevitt is very passionate, not only about medicine but also on how she can incorporate medicine and complementary therapies.  Integrative medicine is a whole different health care regimen.  She focuses on the patients' health and their overall satisfaction with life.  When it comes to preventing, curing, or managing a disease or illness, Dr. McDevitt believes it is critical to maintaining a balance, from eating to stress management and, of course, meditation.  

Katie is super cool! She is a certified pediatric nurse Practioner and a child and adolescent mental health specialist.  Katie is passionate about working with families.  She has provided a very unique perspective, not only as a pediatric provider, but she is also the mother of a child who has experienced healing from integrative treatments. 


Hey there, Alexa Z here!  I am at Turning Point Integrative Health Center.  I am very excited to be sitting here with Dr. Danielle McDevitt, who I will call Danielle and Katie Tolley, who is a Nurse Practitioner. 

Alexa - Integrative medicine is so darn confusing.  I am completely confused, and I assume my audience is too.  Katie, can you tell me what precisely integrative medicine is?

Katie - Sure! A lot of people are not familiar with integrative medicine. For example, the doctors we have been going to for decades, we call that western medicine, allopathic medicine, or modern medicine.  In integrative medicine, we use other therapies that are considered functional medicine.  With functional medicine, we look at the whole bodily process, such as which system is affecting another.   Integrative medicine is functional medicine and allopathic medicine together.  We try to provide treatment by looking at all options available by stepping in and outside the box.

Alexa - So, allopathic is Western.

Katie - Yes, ma'am.

Alexa - Would you prescribe me pharmaceutical medication and herbal supplements? 

Katie - It would depend on what you specifically have going on.  I would try to give you as little as possible and have you take vitamins and elements.  Most of which you can get from food.  Some times we can't always get everything we need from food and herbs, so there is absolutely a place for pharmaceutical medicine. 

Alexa - What I am hearing is, the integrative part is what we think our western doctor isn't going to suggest to us.  Such as exercise, meditation, acupuncture, etc.

Katie - Correct.  The founder of our clinic does practice acupuncture.  All therapies are included 

Alexa - Who is the founder of this practice?

Katie - That would be, Dr. Mark Sivieri.

Alexa - Dr. Danielle, what is your piece in this? 

Danielle - For me, I try to pull on both sides, just as Katie stated earlier.   I primarily focus on patients' core basic needs, such as nutrition, sleep,  exercise.  Meditation is probably my number one prescription, but it is the hardest thing for people to do.

Alexa - No, it's not.  It's easy. I will teach them!  What are the different kinds of more significant things you focus on?

Danielle - Typically, the root issues are inflammation.  Inflammation is caused by toxicity.  So then, I would focus on nutrition, gut health, adrenal health, and mental health.  All of these play a role in helping a person feel better, heal better, and be whole.

Alexa - That is what I like about practices like this.  I feel as though you are not just looking at me from a medical perspective but rather from a whole life perspective.  One thing that jumped out was the word inflammation.  It is all over the news. My husband swears he is not fat, he is just inflamed.  Even my AARP magazine has a whole issue on inflammation.  Yes, I am over 50.  Can you give me a little more on inflammation? 

Danielle - Definitely!  Inflammation is a broad term.  A lot of times, inflammation is what makes us feel horrible.  Inflammation comes from what we are eating.  It comes from our extra fat, fat is very inflammatory.  It is the root cause of disease and illness.  We know that if we have tons of inflammation, our cells are not going to function appropriately.  Our heart is not going to perform well.  If our gut if fully inflamed, we are not going to get the nutrition we need.  Inflammation is a root cause of a lot of problems.

Alexa - Inflammation, to me, means swelling, getting bigger.  Is that what we are talking about here?  What is inflammation?

Katie - There is good inflammation, and there is bad inflammation.  Inflammation is our immune system responding to something.  For example, you cut your hand.  You need the inflammatory process to help your body heal, which is part of your immune system function.  That is what we want inflammation to do.  However, when our body has different assaults all over, then we become inflamed all over, systemic inflammation/chronic inflammation.  As Danielle stated earlier, the root cause of disease.  That is also the root of where we practice.

Danielle - That is an excellent point.  There is normal inflammation, but what we are seeing is that our bodies are not turning off the inflammation.  It is not just saying, I have an injury and let me send those inflammatory markers to do the job, it doesn't stop once we are healed, and that is where we are seeing a lot of issues. 

Alexa - Is it comparable to being in "fight or flight" all the time?

Katie -  If you hear inflammation, you hear a lot about fight or flight.  Fight or flight is what your body is supposed to do when your body is in a state of stress.  Stress can be a good thing.  We are supposed to respond to stress.  It means that our body is valuing something that matters to us, we need to do something to address what is going on with that stressor.  The problem is when we feel a 24/7 stress assault, our bodily systems are out of wack.  Your hormones, neuro-transmitters, memory, cognition, focus, relationship, the way you respond to people aren't right.  You can be inflamed to a point where it becomes difficult to have a decent conversation because your mind is so disheveled. 

Alexa - That is exactly why I need to meditate.    Fight or flight gets a really bad rap, but we do need it.  Even our emotions, what is an emotion? It's a reaction to a strong stressor. 

Dannielle - Meditation is essential to us, and this practice.  Because a lot of times, our patients are in fight or flight, and they just want to know how to get out of it.  They ask us, "what do I need to do?"  I say you need to stop, you need to breathe, and you need to meditate.  A really amazing thing about meditation is that it really pulls in your parasympathetic system.  Our parasympathetic is when we rest and digest.  Everyone is constipated.  Well, you need to relax so you can have those bowel movements! 

Alexa - Meditation helps constipation!

Danielle - Yes, ma'am!

Katie - You can't detox if you can't get it all out. 

Alexa - Earlier, one of you mention Adrenals.  At my spa, I have many massage therapists and estheticians.  We are always talking about how stressed out we are, how our adrenals are shot, and we are totally off-kilter.   It is just not our clients, it's us too.  We blame it on the moon, on the government, the pizza we ate, but we really have no idea what we are talking about.  Can you expand a little on what is up with adrenal health? 

Katie - I can speak from both personal experiences as well as a provider.  I believe Danielle can talk more on hormones and how our hormones are significantly affected by our adrenal health.  That stress response, the fight or flight we just discussed, puts our adrenals into overdrive.  You can only stay in overdrive for so long before you peter out. 

Alexa - What does an adrenal do?

 Katie - That might be whole another podcast.  Short version: your adrenal provides homeostasis balance for your entire hormone cascades, such as energy, sleep, communication skills, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue.

Alexa - You mentioned hormones.  Danielle, you are looking at a pre-menopausal, hoping to crash through menopause without ever looking back kind of girl. My desire is to cruise through menopause, but I am sure my husband would disagree.  Adrenal, hormone, am I starting to connect some things?

Danielle - Definitely!  Adrenals are these really tiny glands that sit on top of the kidneys.  Adrenals have a significant role.  They help release cortisol and some of our sex hormones.  When our adrenals wake us up in the morning, they release our cortisol.  Then they calm down as the sun goes down, dropping our cortisol really low, allowing our melatonin to spike to get us to sleep.  However, what is actually happening to many people is that we are pushing our adrenals to far, causing our cortisol to have a constant spike.  

Alexa - When most people think cortisol, these words come to mind: stress hormone, belly fat, but there is a whole lot more.  There is also cortisol in our brain too. 

Danielle - Correct!

Alexa - If we get rid of the cortisol, which is bad, we make room for something good. 

Danielle - Exactly!

Katie - Sometimes, it can be the other way around.  Sometimes we have to bring in a lot of good so we can push the bad out.  For example, gut health, putting in proper nutrition before even thinking about taking out bad nutrition, starting a meditation practice before you deal with all of your stressors, deal with them, they are not going to go away

Alexa - I like that!  So, what you are saying is, you don't have to wait for the symptoms to arise, let's start working on it now.  I always say that meditation is my vitamin, but it used to be a pill for my panic attacks.  Now I never forget to take my vitamin.  If we all went down the path of integrative medicine and started to take our vitamins, you all would be put out of business.  No, I am only kidding!  We are talking a lot about adults, is integrative medicine just for adults?

Katie - That is my role,  I am the pediatric provider here.   In regards to adrenal health, it also affects children.  Usually is caused by toxins, chemical exposure, disease process, and inflammation from the standard American diet that most can not tolerate or detox from.  

Alexa - So it's for everybody.  That just made me think of sensitivities.  I am afraid to make dinner for anyone because many people have dietary limitations.  Are sensitivities new, or did we disregard them in the past?

Danielle - I believe it is becoming more prevalent now.  The reason I think it is happening is that our world is so full of toxins. We do not know how to detox, causing us to develop sensitivities.  We have patients who are sensitive to smells, food, noise, and light.  Which brings me back to point out the foundation, our foundation is not strong enough to handle all the toxins causing sensitivities.  Many people can deal with all the toxins for a period of time, then their body becomes overwhelmed.  That is where we try to come in to provide support.

Alexa - I am 52, and I am starting to feel like I am doomed. I should have started this when I was young. Am I doomed?

Danielle - You are not doomed.  There is no better time than now, that goes for when we were young, teens, twenties, and all the way to our hundreds to support and make you the best and strongest person you can be and live like a super-human.

Alexa - I was going to say super-human.  Are you bio-hackers?

Katie - We want to be bio-hackers!  That would be our passion.  We want-to-be bio-hackers.  We would love to have the time and profits to invest in figuring out all that fun bio-hacking stuff.  You said, "I am 52, am I doomed?"  Not if you listen to the bio-hackers, their goal is to live to 120 or 180.  Learning about detox, integrative medicine, meditation, reverse age bio-hack, that sounds like a great idea! 

Alexa - This has been amazing!


Health Bio's at Turning Point

Turning Point Health Center




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