Top Integrative Health Modalities in Rochester

Some tips to help you live better

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Integrative health “brings conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

This can include multiple interventions in addition to conventional medicine. Integrative health is on the rise. According to www.goodtherapy.com, almost 69% of Americans use some form of complementary medicine in any given year.

The most popular modalities are (in order): massage therapy, chiropractic care, nutrition counseling, health/life coaching, acupuncture, reflexology, detoxification, B12 shots, acupressure and alternative healing, as listed on www.mindbodybusiness.com.

The growth in popularity is particularly notable considering many people pay for these services in full. Although chiropractic care is sometimes covered by health insurance, typically complementary modalities are out-of-pocket expenses.

The Rochester area offers numerous integrative health modalities from a large variety of providers. Here are five of them:

1. Functional Medicine

• How it works: Providers “focus on the core of why people have symptoms,” said Kelly Herron, board-certified in OB-GYN, integrative medicine and functional medicine and working as a solo practitioner at Hygeia Life in Rochester.
• Why it works: “I focus on a comprehensive history with the patient, food first as medicine, and treating the gut, which affects everything,” Herron said. “You often get resolution with systemic issues.”
• Caveats: “It takes time, as I delve into what their symptoms are and take time to address them,” Herron said. “We make comprehensive food elimination plans.” Patients must be willing to adhere to the program.

2. Lifestyle Health Coaching

• How it works: “We look at exercise, avoiding toxins and specific food plans,” Herron said. “Stress is killing most of us. I help people understand and process their situations so they can develop a better coping system. I help people understand how what they do every day affects how they will feel over the next 15 to 20 years.”
• Why it works: It provides lasting results because people improve health-altering behaviors.
• Caveats: It is difficult to change long-established habits.

3. Relaxation/Meditation

• How it works: “Directly, it improves coping for stress that’s unavoidable,” said Gail Weisner, physician assistant, licensed clinical social worker owner of Holistic Health Counseling in Rochester. “When exposed to unavoidable stress, we use our resilience and coping skills. When people feel that they have control of their environment or how they respond to it, they feel better.”
• Why it works: Stress is bad for health, but by turning off the body’s inflammatory “fight or flight” response from a perpetually enacted state to only when needed, patients experience lower levels of inflammation.
• Caveats: Patients must continue to practice relaxation-meditation methods to continue to see its positive effects. Some stressors are lifelong.

4. Self-hypnosis

• How it works: “It’s about using your imagination to help you feel the way you want to feel,” Weisner said. “There are some simple techniques that people can use to see themselves functioning better in their imagination and that helps them to feel more positive about life. Clinical hypnosis can help change habits and behaviors. I might also teach self-hypnosis so people facing something difficult can see themselves accomplishing it and remain calm and become successful.”
• Why it works: “Many people find it instantly calming and it brightens their mood,” Weisner said. “They’re imagining they’re in a place where they were safe, secure and happy.”
• Caveats: People must be willing to work on imagining the sensory imagery of a place of comfort to achieve their desired results for self-hypnosis.

5. Detoxifying

• How it works: “I teach them to avoid environmental toxins,” Weisner said. These can include chemicals in personal care and household products and non-organic foods.
• Why it works: Eliminating chemicals that irritate or tax the body’s systems will enable these systems to function at their optimal ability and thereby promote good health.
• Caveats: “There are some toxins we can’t avoid,” Weisner said.