How Integrative Medicine Saved My Life: My Personal Experience

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Integrative Medicine engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership that addresses the root cause of disease or imbalance in the body; taking into account bio-individuality. Meaning no two people, and no two treatments are the same. The practice restores and strengthens the body through medicine, herbs, nutrition, acupuncture and other healing modalities. 

Source:cohs.uci.edu/

Growing up I had no idea what Integrative medicine was?

Like many of you, I was raised on a western medical philosophy.

If you feel sick, go to the doctor, take the medicine prescribed without question. Wait 7-14 days to feel better.  I never thought about why I was always having eczema flare ups or random skin rashes {It was stress and gluten by the way!!}. I never correlated my constant UTI’s and yeast infections to antibiotics and too much sugar, beer and wine… I simply treated various symptoms on a case by case basis and carried on.  Got a headache? Pop an Advil. Heartburn? Chew some tums. Rash? Slap some cortisone on it. 

I didn’t learn about healing my body holistically (looking at your body and how it functions as a whole unit) until 2013. I was exactly one year postpartum, when I noticed vision in my left eye was fuzzy and my eye was frequently irritated. I chalked it up to seasonal allergies and sweat irritation from summer weather runs & my hot yoga habit. A couple months passed and I noticed my symptoms were getting worse. I went to my eye doctor and he assured me it was allergies. He told me to take a break from my contact lenses and gave me a prescription for Prednisone, a corticosteroid and eye drops to treat seasonal allergies. 

Symptomatically nothing improved, but my body was definitely reacting to the Prednisone! I was hyperactive, had trouble keeping weight on, and problems sleeping at night. I started seeing flashers and floaters in my peripheral vision and I was freaking out!! My eyes became extremely sensitive to light and I couldn’t bare to go outside without sunglasses.  

I visited an ophthalmologist and was diagnosed with Iritis, an inflammatory condition of the iris. My course of action prescribed was a stronger steroid, and weekly eye doctor appointments to make sure my already weak vision was not becoming worse. {So convenient to schedule with a traveling hubs and a 1 year old baby!!} I was constantly googling Iritis and going down an online rabbit hole of worse case scenarios. It was depressing, all-consuming and I felt so out of control!!!

Meanwhile my lymph nodes started to feel swollen and my mouth started feeling dry and sore. I went to urgent care thinking I had strep throat. Instead, I had developed stones {like kidney stones} in my salivary glands that were blocking the saliva from lubricating my mouth normally.

My thought: What in the heck are these obscure ailments?!?!


The salivary stones REALLY put a damper on my life! I had to give up running and sweating (a huge joy in my life!)  as my body was already severely dehydrated and my mouth was drier than the Sahara Desert. At night when I tried to go to sleep it felt like I could choke on my tongue from the dryness! 

Having Iritis and then the stones in my salivary gland put me on the Autoimmune spectrum. Thankfully I didn’t test positive for MS or Sjogren’s Syndrome.  But this also meant I wasn’t quite sick enough for a diagnosis. I didn’t have answers or a treatment plan. 

After complaining about my health at a play date, my friend Sass, suggested I see an integrative doctor.  After visiting a handful of doctors in town, I was willing to try ANYTHING so I booked my first appointment.  

I had a thorough consultation about my lifestyle, diet, mental health & health history. They did a comprehensive lab panel to understand my hormone & adrenal levels, as well as a food sensitivity panel so we could create a baseline plan towards re-balancing my body. Ron also prescribed Chinese Herbs, and natural supplements through muscle testing. {Muscle testing is a fascinating bio-individual method of selecting herbs to heal your body!!} 

After countless {10 minute} Doctor visits, I finally felt like I had an ally who was invested in my health! I couldn’t believe a health professional actually spent nearly two hours with me for our treatment session! I left the consultation in tears of joy! I had a plan and I had a health partner!

After three months of seeing my new integrative doctor & taking meticulous care of myself, miraculously, I started feeling better! Something clicked for me and I started to understand that how I treat my body has consequences.

This was before the self care movement, so I didn’t have a term for it, but essentially I started taking care of myself in a more full way. I started honoring and protecting my sleep, eating a more balanced diet, moving my body without over exertion and trying to reduce my stress and anxiety.

I’m not going to lie, you have to be ready to receive help when you work with an Integrative practitioner. My six month health plan was incredibly strict. I was tasked with removing foods that were causing inflammation in my body {gluten, sugar, dairy, wine, lectins, and night-shade vegetables} taking a host of supplements, and keeping stress levels down.  I stuck to it because it was the only treatment plan I had, and I was seeing glimpses of my health return! 

Am I fully healed? Yes and No. Thankfully the salivary stones did go away thanks to supplements, diet and acupuncture. However, my left pupil is permanently scarred and doesn’t contract properly in sunlight, but thank God my full vision returned!

I’m incredibly grateful for the care I received and the opportunity to manage my health in a holistic manner.

I’m equally thankful for the science and clinical based research western medicine brings to our health care system.  For me, blending the two makes sense and I love that our range for alternative care is growing. 

Cheers to Health!

1 COMMENT

  1. Courtney, My husband is having something as well going on with his eyes and we have tried everything. Do you mind sharing what doctor you finally settled on?

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