Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Discovering the Value of Integrative Health Care


By Sara Browning

The Couri Center for Gynecology and
Integrative Women’s Health has brought an innovative health care program
to the area, offering individualized care restoring true “health” to
women’s health care.

Central Illinois is benefiting from a
unique type of health care program thanks to Dr. Michele Couri, MD,
FACOG, ABIHM, whose vision for the future of women’s health care extends
beyond traditional gynecological practice, providing women access to a
multidisciplinary team geared to expanding patients’ health care from
focusing only on the disease to focusing on the entire person: body,
mind, and spirit. This philosophy of integrative medicine combines
conventional Western medicine with complementary treatments such as
nutritional counseling; stress reduction techniques, such as yoga and
massage; and programs focusing on healthy weight loss, just to name a

Integrative medicine has become more and more appealing,
bearing the values of added patient attention, greater time for patient
care, and a broader approach to patient healing compared to traditional
medicine alone. And at the Couri Center, integrative medicine means
providing health care that is comprehensive, researched, and
evidence-based. Staying up to date with current health care trends helps
the Couri Center provide a “best-practice” approach to delivering
remarkable care.

“The Couri Center’s goal is to provide a
cutting-edge, individualized approach for women to ensure optimal health
and wellness for a woman, at any age of her life, from adolescence into
her senior years,” says Dr. Couri. “We partner with our patients to
develop a specific, individualized plan of care tailored ‘just for

Addressing Women’s Health
Couri has been practicing medicine since 2001, transforming her practice
in 2011 by adding integrative medicine to her established OB/GYN
practice. At her office, patients have access to traditional gynecologic
services, including well-woman exams, menopause care, and hormone
balancing/replacement, management of menstrual disorders, treatment of
uterine abnormalities including fibroids/polyps, family planning
counseling/contraception services, and treatment of pelvic organ
prolapse and urinary incontinence.

Dr. Couri is a skilled
gynecologic surgeon as well providing minimally invasive surgical
options including advanced laparoscopic surgery and DaVinci robotic
hysterectomies, myomectomies, and correction of pelvic organ prolapse.
Because of its many benefits, robotic surgery is a very desirable option
for gynecological surgery. Robotic surgeries offer less pain, fewer
complications, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker
recovery and return to normal activities. Endometrial ablation is
another procedure that she does quite frequently that is very effective
at treating heavy and painful periods.

“As a gynecologist, I
have always enjoyed my time spent in the operating room. I love
partnering with women on their journey toward health, and if that
journey involves surgery, we approach it together so that I can be as
strong of a support as they need to make the process as easy as possible
for them.”

A Deeper Look at Patient Health
The foundation of integrative medicine is to delve deeper and explore
why women are dealing with specific health issues. According to Sue
Lang, Advanced Practice Nurse and Certified Nurse Midwife at the Couri
Center: “When patients continue to have the same bothersome health
issues, integrative medicine gives us the tools to address the issues on
a deeper level. Integrative medicine shuns the Band-Aid approach to
health care. It helps us to get to the root cause of the patient’s
medical issues.”

Dr. Couri states: “We love to collaborate with
primary care physicians in providing this type of medical care as time
constraints in the current Western medical model don’t allow for
comprehensive teaching on lifestyle factors such as nutrition, exercise,
and stress reduction. We have built a team here to provide this level
of care. Our team involves myself, two advanced practice nurses, one
physician assistant, and our exercise physiologist/registered dietician.
We love to work with physicians by providing comprehensive lifestyle
medicine for their patients because it is the foundation upon which
optimal health resides.”

Incorporating Nutrition and Wellness
Integrative tools, such as those the Couri Center provides — healthy
eating classes, lifestyle management tips, nutrition counseling,
nutritional supplements, fitness consultations/personal training on
premises, bioidentical hormone replacement pellets for hormone
balancing, yoga classes and relaxation therapies/biofeedback — allow the
body to achieve homeostasis and complete healing while assisting
patients in achieving optimal health and mitigating chronic disease
through lifestyle changes. Changes in diet can have a dramatic impact on
patients’ health.

“We believe that healthy eating is a major
part of healthy living,” according to Dr. Couri. “Food is information
that we supply to our body — not just calories to control hunger. Food
talks directly to our genes. It can turn genes on and can turn genes
off. Unless we give our bodies the right information, all the medication
and supplements in the world won’t help our overall health.”

The Couri Center helps patients with lifestyle changes through
innovative healthy eating classes but mostly through their 15-week
Lifestyle program called TLC. This program is a comprehensive immersion
in integrative medicine delivered in 15 weekly sessions. The sessions
include food sensitivity testing, detoxification, nutrition teaching,
personal training/exercise, meditation and yoga, massage, biofeedback,
and stress reduction/sleep hygiene. This program helps patients learn
sustainable lifestyle tips that will benefit them for years to come.

“Another area in which we make a significant impact in the quality of
our women’s lives is through hormone balancing. When a woman’s hormones
are balanced, her overall outlook on life is better; she feels energized
and rejuvenated. We have achieved great success with hormone balancing
using hormone pellets that are placed subcutaneously and last for about
three to four months. This hormone replacement option has revolutionized
hormone replacement for women,” Dr. Couri says.

BHRT Pellets
are an individualized approach to hormone replacement therapy, using
biologically identical hormones (BHRT) that pinpoint a woman’s exact
hormone levels and what hormones are needed to balance her hormone

Set Apart
Advanced education
and fellowship training in Integrative and Functional Medicine sets the
staff at the Couri Center apart from other practices providing similar
services. “To my knowledge, I am the only physician who has completed
two fellowships in this field,” says Dr. Couri. “I owe it to my patients
to be as comprehensively trained in both traditional Western medicine
and integrative medicine as I can be. I take my responsibility very
seriously. Practicing medicine is an honor, and my patients deserve a
physician who never stops learning. The last four years that I have
spent in Fellowship training in this field have expanded not only my
knowledge base but also my passion for medicine in general. I truly am
grateful to be where I am at today.”

According to Leslie
Rush-Bayer, the Couri Center’s Registered Dietician and Certified
Personal Trainer: “As we continue to lead by example by eating healthy
and staying up to date on current evidence-based information about
nutrition, patients are reassured that we are committed to taking this
journey with them. Because that’s what healthy living is… a journey.”

“Our patients know and appreciate the fact that we continue to learn
and grow in our field,” adds Sue. “We love what we do here. We love
helping our patients. We’re a family.”

Dr. Michele A.
Couri, MD, FACOG, ABIHM is a board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist
and Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at OSF Saint
Francis Medical Center in Peoria. She is appointed to the medical staff
at OSF, UnityPoint Health — Methodist Medical Center, and UnityPoint
Health — Proctor Hospital. She entered private practice in 2001 in
Peoria where she serves as the Medical Director at the Couri Center for
Gynecology and Integrative Women’s Health.

In 2011, Dr. Couri
completed a Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of
Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine under the direction of
world-renowned Dr. Andrew Weil. In December 2013, she completed her
Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine from the
American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine through the University of South
Florida. Dr. Couri is also board-certified by the American Board of
Integrative Holistic Medicine.

For more information on the Couri Center for Gynecology and Integrative Women’s Health, visit or call 309-692-6838. The Couri Center is located at 6708 N. Knoxville Ave. Peoria, IL 61614.