Whole-Body Healthy: What is Integrated Health?

When it comes to health, there are a lot of buzzwords like integrative and holistic health thrown around, especially on the internet. With blogs, social media, and sites like YouTube and TikTok, almost anyone can proclaim themselves as experts on “health.” But what is real health? What does caring for your entire body look like from a holistic perspective?

In the Checkable Podcast episode 9: What you can do to optimize your health today, we talked to Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy about optimizing your health with integrative medicine. Dr. Connealy is the founder of the New Medicine Center in Irvine, California, the author of two books, and also an integrative medicine doctor. Dr. Connealy says, “First of all, I’m a conventional medicine doctor. So that means I went to medical school and learned anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmaceuticals, and how to implement those pharmaceuticals.” 

About Dr. Erin Connealy

When she first started her practice over 35 years ago, she realized that “a drug is not gonna be the only answer to taking care of a patient.” She wanted to look beyond the “label of the disease… [to] look at the fundamentals of every disease, the why, where, when, and how. When did it start? And what is the progression? And how do they even come about in each person?” This led her to take a more integrative approach to her practice. 


What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is defined as a form of medical therapy that combines practices and treatments from alternative medicine with conventional medicine. Basically, it is getting to the root cause of a symptom, not just curing the problem. In Dr. Connealy’s practice, this means looking beyond basic blood tests and MRIs. “A conventional medical doctor will order a blood test; they will do a complete physical exam; they may order scans like ultrasound, CT scans, EKG, etc. I will do all that, then order my blood tests. Besides ordering cholesterol, I will want to check your inflammation level, check vitamin D levels, hemoglobin A1c, adrenals…checks of vitamins, minerals, gut, Omegas, heavy metals, everything.”

Dr. Connealy may also test for mold, yeast, toxicity, and environmental toxins like Glyphosate toxin, which is something conventional doctors don’t traditionally test for. “That's what the new doctor of integrative medicine can do; she or he can now really, really, really look at the human body in this whole macroscopic, microscopic way to really understand what's going on with the patient.”

This overall, whole-body picture can give an integrative medicine doctor a more complete picture of your health and how to treat you better and optimize your health. She says to think of it like this: “Mosquitos can only grow when the environment is right, so we have to change the unwell environment that the condition came in, whether it's high blood pressure, high sugar, cancer, heart disease, and it's not just one level of healing, we gotta go all levels of healing, and we have to know how the patient is living, so we can get the patient's life in order.”

An integrative medicine doctor will look at your body’s unique biochemistry and any incidence of disease or pre-existing conditions. They’ll take this deep-dive look and match it up to your lifestyle; how you’re sleeping, what you’re eating, how often you’re drinking alcohol, your stress levels, exercise habits, and other lifestyle factors that play such a huge role in our health. From there, your integrative medicine doctor will develop a comprehensive plan to get you well and keep you that way. This plan might be a complete lifestyle overhaul or some small tweaks you can make to either eliminate signs of disease or prevent new ones from starting.

“We need to change the course of how we talk about health and how we really create and build health in our family and in our community. It's a conversation.” Your one body is precious, and your health is priceless. Working with the right doctor can make all the difference in quality of life. For more on Dr. Connealy, check out our podcast episode with her, or find her @ConnealyMD on Instagram.