by Karen G. Meshkov
Montgomery Integrative Health Group (MIHG), located inside a beautifully renovated, historic schoolhouse in Wyndmoor, feels more like a community center than a doctor’s office. Announcements for yoga classes and acupuncture sessions are handwritten in brightly colored chalk while patients and staff bustle about, creating an energy that’s warm and inviting.
The differences between MIHG and traditional medical practices are many. Here, patients are “members” that experience a host of unique benefits, such as personal health assessment coaching, an onsite chiropractor, acupuncturist and massage therapist, as well as community classes and meetup groups.
These benefits are part of the “whole person health care” approach known as functional medicine. As functional medicine practitioners, MIHG’s team of doctors and health care providers are trained in comprehensive, integrative and health care services that include primary care, physical medicine, pain management, women’s health, stress management and Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, the practice offers personalized genetic assessment and optimization of customized detoxification, infusion therapy, functional nutrition, chiropractic care and cognitive health services.
Through this approach, complementary care such as massage, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustment can be as important as prescriptions and surgical procedures in restoring the patient to wellness.
Founded by function-al medicine specialist Dr. Heidi Wittels in 2010, MIHG’s team of progressive practitioners thrive on solving the health puzzle of each patient. “I first attended an integrative health conference in 1998,” says Wittels. “I’ve known since then that this is the kind of practice I wanted to build.”
Wittels is one of the area’s foremost authorities on the diagnosis and integrative treatment of Lyme disease, and she has a special interest in mold sensitivity and biotoxin illnesses, cognitive decline, autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome, hyperlipidemia, digestive concerns, nutrigenomics and methylation.
A specialist in family medicine with a special interest in women’s health, Dr. Daila Pravs recently joined the practice as a primary and acute care physician for both women and men, and she provides same-day care for health issues such as urinary tract infections, colds, rashes and musculoskeletal concerns, in addition to a functional medicine and integrative approach to care.
For Pravs, the journey to integrative medicine was personal. “When my son was born, he was full term and healthy,” she says. “But his digestive issues, earaches and sleep issues persisted all through his first year. His doctors struggled to offer a solution, so I had to go back to the books and figure out what happened. Through my research, I learned how to optimize his gut health through a customized diet, and after two days, he was having normal bowel movements and sleeping through the night.”
With over a decade of experience in family medicine and women’s health, Pravs is excited to work with patients on personalizing their medical care plan by examining factors that can affect health, including nutrition and food intolerance, nutrigenomics, stress, sleep, emotional well-being, digestive wellness and the environment.
The group is among the few integrative practices to accept major insurance plans. “Accessibility is important to us,” says Wittels. “People need care, particularly those in the Lyme disease community, and they can go broke trying to afford the extra things we know are important to their wellness, like massage, infusions and acupuncture. We hope that by our taking insurance, people will have more ability to find resources for these treatments.”
MIHG’s Membership Model works with insurance to defray costs. For $40 a month, or a discounted annual rate, members receive electronic medical record portal support from the group’s knowledgeable nurses and coaches, a complementary health coaching assessment and 60-minute massage, discounts on medical grade supplements and a 15 percent discount on additional family memberships.
By offering a comprehensive, integrative and functional approach that treats the whole person, MIHG offers Montgomery and Philadelphia County residents a new framework from which to access optimal health and well-being.
MIHG is hosting an open house, Be Your Best Fest, from 1 to 4 p.m., October 15. A complimentary yoga class will be offered at noon. Vendors should call for more information. Location: 1108 E. Willow Grove Ave., Wyndmoor. For more information, call 215-233-6226 or visit MontgomeryIntegrativeHealth.com.