By Alexander Germanis
Centuries ago, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León searched for a rumored spring called the Fountain of Youth. He was neither the first nor the last person to seek out a source of miraculous rejuvenation.
While such a fabled font is unlikely to exist, modern medical specialists throughout the world are nevertheless struggling to discover the keys to extending life, improving health, and ridding mankind of disease.
While traditional Western medicine has not yet hit upon the secret, those who practice integrative medicine, such as the professionals at A Balanced Life Integrative Medicine in Morton, may be closer to discovering the key to a “fountain of health” than any medical explorers who came before.
Although medicine has evolved a great deal over the centuries, significant advances in understanding and treating maladies have been made in just the last few decades. The belief modern medicine has reached its peak is patently false. There are many significant advances yet to be made. Integrative medicine might just be that next advance.
“Integrative medicine looks for the root cause of problems. It looks at patients individually and does not group them all together,” explains Co-founder of A Balanced Life Beth Hayes, APN, CNS-BC, FNP-C. “I truly believe we are perfectly made and each of us is unique. When we can find what a patient is deficient in then we can resolve the problem for them.”
As we age, our bodies often slow down or even halt production of certain substances we still need in order to function as we used to. “Our goal is to create a better quality of life and to slow the aging process by replenishing the body with what it needs,” Beth says.
As integrative medicine includes the prescription of medication, albeit more natural and bio-identical medicines, it is not considered a holistic medical practice. Integrative medicine is even slowly losing its status as an “alternative medicine” as it is being incorporated more and more into conventional medical practices. “My daughter graduated medical school a year ago and they had added a section on integrative medicine, which is great news,” Beth reveals. “I think if both types of medicine work together the patient will be that much better.”
The New Traditional Medicine
Even though integrative medicine is gaining a stronger foothold in the greater medical world, it actively shuns many of the less savory aspects of so-called traditional medicine.
“We base treatment off studies that are not skewed,” Beth assures. “Traditional medicine incorporates treatment of studies from drug companies or other large medical facilities that potentially have another agenda in mind.”
Spending quality time with patients is a tradition that, ironically, traditional medicine has long done away with. A Balanced Life is actively bringing it back. “Our appointment time is usually between 45 minutes to an hour so we communicate about everything,” Beth says. “We take time to listen to the patient and that allows us to meet all their goals. Traditional medicine spends a few minutes and does not listen to the patient’s complaints. Patients do not feel heard.” Furthermore, medical opinions often differ so drastically on subjects, patients are uncertain if they can trust one opinion over another.
Another unfortunate aspect of traditional medicine is a patient is only heard when they’re sick, diseased, or injured. Modern medicine is, as Beth points out, reactive. But many people are more interested in taking a proactive, pre-emptive approach to their health, preventing disease and illness from ever even occurring.
None of these things mean traditional medicine should be scrapped, however. Beth sees integrative medicine as just that: integrative. “Traditional medicine is very needed in many ways and our office is a mix of both,” she iterates. “I truly believe that integrative medicine is the medicine of the near future.”
Just as Ponce de León’s explorations brought him to new lands, medical explorers like Beth have made their own life-shifting discoveries. “I have worked in emergency medicine my entire life in some capacity,” she shares. “I continually saw patients that had many different comorbidities, yet they were just being put on medication after medication with no resolution. I felt like I wasn’t making a difference in their life; I was just putting out the current fire.”
This realization led Beth to start her search for something different, something new, something that would fill the missing piece of the traditional medicine puzzle. That is when she discovered integrative medicine.
“I had gone to schooling for that and started working part-time in the field while I was still working in the emergency department,” Beth recalls. A Balanced Life’s other future co-owner, Chris Wade, PA-C, meanwhile was also studying integrative medicine. “That is when discussions began about opening an integrative practice in our area so we could optimize patients’ health and reverse the damage that’s been done.”
Their search finally over, Beth and Chris were joined by a staff of three nurses, three front desk receptionists, a phlebotomist, and four other health providers.
Fountain of Youth
Obviously, A Balanced Life does not purport to be a literal fountain of youth, but their services can certainly do wonders in slowing the aging process. Bio-identical hormone therapy is one such service.
“When we lose our hormones, we age quickly, and our body does not function as it should,” Beth says. “We suffer many debilitating symptoms without hormones, including obesity, fatigue, insomnia, mental fog, dry skin, joint pain, hair loss, loss of sexual function, and many other ailments.”
In bio-identical hormone therapy, these essential hormones are reintroduced back into the body, establishing a better quality of life for the patient—one which they enjoyed before their hormone levels dipped. As the hormones have chemical structures the body recognizes, side effects are rare.
A Balanced Life also offers aesthetic services such as Botox and fillers, fat loss and toning machines such as Exilis, Vanquish, and the brand new Neo-EmSculpt. “We do gut health and focus on what we fuel our body with,” Beth adds. “We have a bod pod, which is the most accurate for body/fat compensation. Starting this summer, we are also offering IV hydration to boost energy, improve immunity, and provide other benefits. We are also working on offering platelet rich plasma therapy in the near future.”
At A Balanced Life, they recognize the unique needs of each patient, so the first appointment is designed to divine a patient’s individualized requirements and, subsequently, their specific path to health. “We look at the adrenal glands, do an extensive thyroid panel, check the sex hormones which we start to lose around age 30, vitamin levels, inflammatory markers, lipids, sugar and insulin, and of course the basics of the body as well,” Beth outlines. “We also discuss gut health with the patient and the importance of healing the gut. What we fill our body with determines how our bodies are going to function. If you put bad oil or fuel in a vehicle, the vehicle doesn’t work well. That same thing goes for our body.”
The Key to the Fountain
“I believe that we are going to see more and more integrative offices based on demand alone,” Beth states. “I would welcome them as we need more offices so we can reverse disease, heal more patients, and optimize more lives.”
As more and more people, like Ponce de León, search for their own fountains, integrative medicine will gain a stronger foothold in the world of Western healthcare and A Balanced Life is at the forefront.
“I think people are starting to see that there is so much more medicine that traditional is missing,” Beth says, “and integrative medicine is that key piece.”
A Balanced Life Integrated Health is located at 370 E. Courtland St. in Morton, Illinois. To make your first appointment with us, please call us at (309) 291-0899, or learn more about us and how integrative medicine can help you by visiting us at www.ablmed.com.
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