What is Integrative Medicine? — Guest Post

Cris Giambalvo CNMI am thrilled to share the expertise and insights of my colleague and fellow nurse midwife, Cris Giambalvo. Cris has over two decades of obstetric experience and has worked with thousands of women (and delivered thousands of babies!) in her career. Currently in private practice in New Jersey, Cris is also an expert in Integrative medicine and she weaves its concepts into her practice. I’ve asked her to introduce and explain what integrative medicine is. I plan to have her post as a regular contributor, so feel free to ask her questions by commenting below!

–Paul Quinn, PhD, CNM, and Founder, Prenatal Possibilities

Integrative Medicine

As defined by Andrew Weil, MD: “Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.”

As a certified nurse midwife with fellowship training in Integrative Medicine, the focus is always on the whole woman. I am interested in learning a woman’s story. So much can be learned about a woman when we simply take the time to LISTEN. Many women come to my office with various physical complaints from abdominal and pelvic pain, to chronic headaches and back pain. I find that taking the time to listen to a full history and then exploring what a woman is open to with respect to treatment, helps me find the best way to treat her complaints.

Listen to Your Body

Photo by SOCMIA Fotografía

Stress management is critical for today’s busy woman. I find that women often care for everyone around them and very rarely spend any time caring for themselves. Chronic stress can lead to physical complaints. If we just take the time to pay attention and listen to our bodies, we will often find what ails us quickly and then be able to let our body heal itself without the use of pharmaceuticals. I often say to my patients, “life speaks to us in whispers”- If we don’t listen to the whispers, life will speak louder and louder until we can’t possibly ignore it any longer!

Think about this: You know that you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You can’t find time for yourself because you have deadlines to meet at work or maybe a significant other and/or children that demand much of your time. You start to feel tired, over-tired even, and then you worry at night that you’ll never get everything done that needs to get done. You get by day to day, week to week like this and then you notice your neck and shoulders hurt, and maybe your low back. You might have an upset stomach and before you know it, you feel like your body is falling apart. Sound familiar?

Integrative Medicine Treatment

Photo by Blaise Vonlanthen

Integrative medicine practitioners believe in the blending of conventional and alternative therapies to best treat a patient. Their focus is on preventing illness and promoting wellness through healthy diet and lifestyle choices. You can change your future through healthy lifestyle choices! Hippocrates had it right when he said, “let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”! We believe that good nutrition is an integral part of any treatment plan. We believe that exercise is a key component to a healthier lifestyle. We believe in taking time with patients, and coming up with a realistic treatment plan including holistic options for treatment when appropriate.

Integrative Medicine practitioners take the time to learn about the whole person, mind , body and spirit, and then work with that patient to help them treat their complaints, as well make suggestions on ways to help manage future health. Consider seeing an integrative practitioner for your next appointment!
–Cris Giambalvo, DNP, CNM

Share your thoughts!

Questions for Cris? Ask them here! We’d love to hear your thoughts or any experiences you’ve had with Integrative Medicine.

2 thoughts on “What is Integrative Medicine? — Guest Post

  1. This is interesting. I’ve been thinking about trying an “alternative” care physician for some time. I think what draws me in that direction is the prospect of better and more individualized patient care. I haven’t tried integrated medicine, as my family doctor does not practice it.

  2. There are Integrative Medicine practitioners out there! Most training programs have a link on their websites where you can find a well trained practitioner in your area, listed by specialty. Usually a “find an Integrative medicine practitioner” search online will yield results.

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