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Natural Awakenings Central Florida / Orlando

Integrative Medicine: More Important Than Ever

Jun 30, 2021 02:52PM ● By Joseph Cannizzaro, MD
Before COVID, we had a pre-existing health crisis in the U.S.—a chronic complex disease epidemic. Years ago, it was infectious disease and before—way back in the 1800s—it was vitamin deficiency  Now it is cancer, heart disease and diabetes—all preventable because the number-one cause of these conditions is diet. According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistic Report from the CDC, one in three (88 million) American adults have pre-diabetes.

Unfortunately, children are not exempt from our country’s unhealthy trends. There has been an explosion of autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies among children in this country.

Probably the most important outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a re-emphasis on the importance of building a healthy immune system, striving for freedom from chronic disease and maintaining health.  Even in the best of times, everyday stressors and toxins erode the body’s defenses. This is where integrative medicine shines.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine emphasizes relationship-centered care between the doctor and patient. It focuses on prevention and maintenance of health with attention to lifestyle choices including nutrition, exercise, stress management and emotional wellbeing. It requires providers to act as educators, role models and mentors to their patients. Integrative medicine also:

·         Uses natural, less invasive interventions before costly invasive ones when possible.
·         Utilizes an evidence-based approach from multiple resources of information to integrate the best therapy—be it conventional or complementary.
·         Searches for and removes barriers that may be blocking the body’s innate healing response.
·         Sees that compassion is always helpful, even when other therapies are not.
·         Focuses on the research and how to facilitate it.
·         Accepts that health and healing are unique to the individual and may differ for two people with the same disease.
·         Works collaboratively with the patient and a team of interdisciplinary providers to improve the delivery of care.
·         Maintains that healing is always possible even when curing is not.

Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” stated that the job of the physician is to “cure sometimes, heal often, and support always.”

For example, if a child has fluid in the middle ear, we usually do not prescribe antibiotics because it is rarely infected. For years, these occurrences have been defined as ear infections which is not the case. The problem is eustachian tube dysfunction. We refer patients to a chiropractic doctor, an osteopath or a craniosacral specialist. These healing modalities utilize manual techniques, which open the eustachian tube and drain the fluid without the use of antibiotics. Salt therapy results in drainage and relieves congestion of the lungs and nasal passages. These are typical examples of integrating various modalities and therapies.

Aren’t our genes ultimately responsible for our health?

The crux of integrative medicine is the environmental influence on our genetic predisposition. It's not genetic pre-determinism, it's the environmental factors that exert influence on our genetic predisposition and determine what the genes direct. Environmental factors can turn genes on to either direct health or disease.

The quality of air, water, food, stress management, exercise and rest—all talk to the genes.  A good example in our practice was a brother and sister, 4 and 2 years old, who came to us with severe eczema. They improved within two months with some dietary modifications and supplements as we helped them detoxify. About two months later, they came in with a horrible recurrence.

The parents told us nothing had changed; however, upon further questioning, we found they lived in a rural area near a big farm and builders had started developing the land.  Building materials leached into a pond that was near the family’s property and contaminated their well’s drinking water, resulting in a recurrence of the eczema. They started drinking bottled water and the eczema went away by itself. The environments that are created determine what genetic predispositions express.

How does Salt Therapy contribute to the Integrative Medicine model of care?

Allergies are a problem for many people in the Orlando area; each year it appears in the top 100 “Asthma and Allergy Capitals” in the U.S., a list put out by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Salt therapy offers year-round relief of cold, flu and allergy symptoms.

Salt therapy takes place in a spa-like room with salt-covered walls and floor. Treatment consists of sitting in a lounge chair and breathing deeply while pharmaceutical-grade salt is pulverized into microscopic particles and pushed into the room.

Salt therapy is an important tool in our integrative medicine array because it activates multiple physiological processes in the body. Salt acts like an expectorant, accelerating mucus clearance and improving lung function while killing harmful bacteria and soothing the respiratory system.  These mucus-clearing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial effects have been shown to relieve symptoms of acne, allergies, asthma, viral infections, chronic cough, cystic fibrosis, dermatitis, eczema, sinusitis and eustachian tube dysfunction.

Is Salt Therapy safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes!  HEPA air filters in the room capture and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne particles, including viral particles, while activated carbon filters remove volatile organic compounds.  A UV light kills 98.8 percent of bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Salt therapy is clinically-proven, natural, safe and beneficial for every age group.

The best of both worlds

For an integrative practice, education is foremost. We teach families about living a healthy lifestyle and creating positive environments that will determine the health of the children.  Integrative practices take the time to help families implement their treatment programs. The major medicine used is food. Most kids are very picky. We can tell them to modify their diet in certain ways and give them supplements, but parental education and support is needed—so basically, we’re treating the whole family.

Integrative medicine is not pharmaceutically-based; however, we will use drugs in an acute situation, since sometimes we can't wait for the natural remedies to work. For example, if a child is on the verge of being expelled from school for behavioral issues, we’ll start a pharmaceutical to allow time for the natural remedies to take hold. It takes time to get to the root cause of problems, initiate detox and correct deficiencies. A big tenet in holistic integrative medicine is: “We give them what they need and take away what they don't need.”

 Joseph Cannizzaro, MD has been practicing pediatrics in Central Florida for over 40 years and is medical director of the salt therapy facility in his practice.  As a classically-trained primary care physician who practices integrative medicine, Dr. Cannizzaro believes that integrative medicine can bring conventional and complementary healing modalities together, creating a highly personalized and high-touch healing environment. Call the Cannizzaro Integrative Pediatric Center at 321-280-5867 for a meet and greet or to book a session at The Salt Room®Longwood. See also,

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