by Phil Gutis
Dr. Adriana Moise is a strong believer in Dr. Andrew Weil’s approach to integrative medicine. In fact, she completed a two-year fellowship in 2011 from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, the world-renowned institute founded by Weil.
“I will always remember when Dr. Weil walked in for our first lecture,” Moise recalls. “What struck me first was his voice—soothing, calm, reassuring—the voice of an exceptional doctor who I had the privilege to learn from for two years.”
Moise, a partner in Cevallos & Moise Pediatric Associates in Quakertown, says her fellowship completely changed the way she treats her patients. “Somewhere along the way, we forgot what real medicine is,” she adds. “We forgot the basics of life; that our food, our sleep and the air we breathe, the relationships that we have could be much more important than many of the other things doctors are trained to address.”
Dr. Andrew Lipton of Narberth Family Medicine started his practice in Narberth to offer patients natural options. He incorporates traditional medicine with a treatment plan that explores all options and meets each person’s unique needs.
“I seek to empower my patients and make them a partner in the medical decision-making process,” Lipton says.
“Just as you would consult an electrician or a plumber for the job you want done,” Lipton says, “a doctor should help the patient understand what health changes need to occur to achieve wellness.” He and his staff help reach that understanding through lengthy consultations with patients.
Another integrative practitioner, Dr. Daniel Lebowitz of World Wellness Health Institute in Bala Cynwyd, also believes that the time spent with each patient is critical. “We take the time to understand not only your symptoms but also why you got those symptoms in the first place,” he says.
Lebowitz enjoys digging deeper to uncover symptoms that get overlooked by traditional doctors. “A patient may not have a serious disease,” he says, “but their health is far from ideal.”
Lebowitz’s practice, which focuses on age management, aesthetic and regenerative medicine, seeks to “help patients find their unique path to optimal health and wellness.”
In Yardley, Dr. Farhan Tahir is focused on treating autoimmune diseases through Pennsylvania’s first integrative rheumatology center. His practice—Rheumatology Care Consultants—offers an integrative approach to treating pain and inflammation while reducing dependence on medications.
“We noticed there is an enormous unmet need of open-minded, well-trained, board-certified integrative physicians who can offer patients education and guidance on nutrition, lifestyle and supplements,” says Tahir. “Many patients are surprised that a western-trained MD can offer them all of the above.”
At Montgomery Health and Wellness, in Wyndmoor, Dr. L. Matthew Schwartz respects the body’s natural capacity to be healthy. “Feeling ill is scary,” he says. “We hear many competing messages. Despite this complexity, it is possible to follow basic principles to achieve steady results.”
To get those results, Schwartz seeks coachable patients willing to commit to lifestyle improvements. “We are not magicians,” he says. “We use well established scientific principles, thoughtful history taking, focused diagnostic testing and comprehensive and individualized treatment plans.”
Schwartz has been recognized in Philadelphia magazine and U.S. News and World Report for being among the top doctors in his field. “We get results,” he says, “often within a few sessions.”
For Dr. Lisa Rhodes of Integrative Health Care, in Fountainville, the individual patient comes first. “Our goal is to optimize the health of our patients while providing educational tools that may be needed to encourage healthy lifestyle changes,” she says. “I believe the body can tell us many things if we know how to ask and listen.”
Rhodes believes that traditional western medicine is critically important in addressing acute illness but that it “falls short in care of chronic conditions.” Her practice therefore includes therapies based on Chinese medicine, energetic medicine and nutritional support. “No one therapy is a panacea,” Rhodes says.
“Many people do not realize how important lifestyle is to their life or even what a healthy lifestyle involves,” says Rhodes. “We teach that lifestyle is about food choices, exercise choices, environmental choices and stress management, including the thoughts that we choose to dwell on.”
Dr. Wendy Warner of Medicine in Balance, in Langhorne, spent the early part of her career in a conventional OB/GYN practice. However, she became frustrated with “conventional medicine’s narrow focus.”
“At Medicine in Balance, we search for and treat the root cause of imbalance and illness rather than just treating the symptom,” Warner says. “Our goal is nothing less than to help you achieve and maintain radiant health.”
Warner says that her typical patient is in their 40s or 50s “who looks up and realizes that they’re taking several prescription medications and really don’t feel good.” Her belief is that most of what a family doctor sees each day are diseases either caused or made worse by stress.
A past president of the American Board of Integrative Medicine and co-author of Boosting Your Immunity for Dummies, Warner says that conventional medicine often does not have ways of helping those stressed people. “But we do,” she says, “and it works!”
The ideal client for Dr. Joanna Carmichael of the Kalyana Centre, in Narberth, is someone who is aiming for “perfect health” through inter-connectivity of wellbeing on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. Carmichael says she seeks people “who do not want to continue to use pharmaceuticals to manage their symptoms and who are willing to go deep to identify the first cause of why they are sick.”
A former psychiatric nurse and pharmaceutical researcher, Carmichael is certified by the Chopra Center as a teacher of yoga, ayurveda and meditation. Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in India. It emphasizes that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between the body, mind, spirit and environment.
Carmichael uses her training to persuade her clients that “they are the best experts of their own body,” but that they must be open to hearing the body’s “messages about our health through various symptoms and feelings.”
“We don’t always listen,” she says, “And then wonder why we don’t feel well.”
Phil Gutis is a writer, editor and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at PhilGutis@gmail.com. October 2014.