The body has an innate desire to heal itself. Encouraging self-healing is the focus of Greenwich Hospital's Integrative Medicine Program.
From headaches, backaches and stomachaches to allergies, fatigue and a host of other ailments, Henri Roca, MD, a Family Medicine physician at hospital-affiliated Greenwich Integrative Medicine, helps patients reverse chronic disease and prevent future illness by helping individuals strengthen and balance the way their bodies work.
"We always look for the root cause of the problem. By identifying the cause of the dis-ease and encouraging healthy lifestyle changes, a patient becomes able to manage their own wellness," said Dr. Roca.
Dr. Roca's office is designed as a health-inducing space overlooking the Mianus River in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich where patients are introduced to therapies such as acupuncture to reduce stress and pain, and support weight loss and smoking cessation. Natural medicine including nutritional and herbal supplements help relieve fatigue and insomnia, while biofeedback, hypnotherapy and meditation are offered to control stress and achieve a better life-work balance. Medication and supplement consultations help indicate whether feeling "not right" is the result of side effects and interactions; blood work can reveal inflammation or accumulation of toxins that can trigger health problems.
For patients with heart disease or diabetes, as examples, medications or procedures are often critical to a person's good health, and yet "these diagnoses can often times be reversed by making healthy choices and enhancing the body's ability to heal," explained Roca. Often, when genetic risk factors come into play, it's a combination of conventional medicine and complementary therapies that are most effective.
The combination of traditional and complementary therapies is working for patients admitted to Greenwich Hospital as well. Part of the Yale New Haven Health System, Greenwich Hospital is known for its standards of excellence and commitment to quality care.
"It's that combination of their medical doctor and integrative modalities such as postpartum massage therapy, Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster workshops using visualization techniques or Healing Touch energy therapy that is working for patients. These therapies trigger a relaxation response to reduce anxiety and support the healing process," said Roberta Brown Brugo, RN, Greenwich Hospital's Healing Touch program coordinator and a Kripalu-certified yoga instructor. She a big believer in the power of complementary, or integrative, medicine.
At Greenwich Hospital music therapist Amy Zabin plays her guitar for oncology patients while Tai Chi Master Domingo Colon leads classes for the Chronic Pain Support Group and the Better Breathers Club for people with chronic pulmonary diseases. People keep coming back because the classes make them feel better.
Brown Brugo recently introduced the Healing Touch program to Greenwich Hospital's Physical Medicine outpatient department for patients enrolled in rehabilitation for musculoskeletal and neurological issues after heart, abdominal or joint surgery. "We have found that we can reduce anxiety and pain for these patients as they go through the rehabilitation process. It allows them to get a better quality rehab session so they heal faster," explained Brown Brugo, adding, "Patients love this. They love being nourished by being physically touched and cared for when they are most vulnerable. It's the human heart to heart connection that helps patients heal on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level."
"There's no doubt that Integrative Medicine helps people heal faster," agreed Dr. Roca, who serves as Medical Director of Greenwich Hospital's Integrative Medicine Program.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP conducted a study that showed 53 percent of people age 50 and older reported using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at some point in their lives, and 47 percent reported using it in the past 12 months. Herbal products or dietary supplements were the type of CAM most commonly used, with 37 percent of respondents reporting their use, followed by massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and other bodywork, used by 22 percent of respondents