Highlights from Women’s Integrative Health Conference

  1. WomensHealthDiscussionIntegrative Medicine incorporates the good old fashioned medicine principles of compassion and listening. Aviva relayed to the audience her own humbling experience as a patient and encourages providers and consumers of medicine of the need to heal the doctor patient relationship. She also goes on to show us that Integrative Medicine is not complicated especially when we think of Food as Medicine. In weighing options for natural treatments such as food and herbal medicines it is important to remember to look at risk of harm—there are many effective which are low risk strategies that can be implanted as a first step. Aviva’s dynamic talk certainly set the stage for a wonderful conference. Take Away Tip: 2–4 tablespoons of olive oil a day can reduce risk of Cardiovascular disease and reduce first heart attack risk by 82%.
  2. Denise Millstine, MD, discussed Breast Health with a focus on Integrative Medicine and prevention and treatment of breast cancer. She reviewed the current evidence and role of diet, nutrition, exercise, mind-body strategies, supplements and botanical medicines. Some take away points are that it is safe for women with breast cancer to continue to eat soy and may be synergistic with certain therapy. As for exercise, to decrease risk of recurrence women should aim for at least 2 hours a week. Lastly, groups aimed at stress reduction may have additional benefits in terms of symptoms reduction and outcomes. Take Away Tip: A Mediterranean diet (mostly plants), exercise and stress reduction all have good evidence when it comes to cancer prevention.
  3. The Missing Piece in Hormone Balancing was presented by Wendy Warner, MD. It’s not enough to simply put all women with hot flashes onto hormone replacement therapy, even if it is bioidentical and well thought out. We need to look at the details of each individual; are they missing nutrients in the pathway to form hormones and just need diet changes? Do they have liver issues so they aren’t breaking down their hormones correctly? Is their chronic constipation causing a hormone imbalance due to reuptake of estrogen metabolites? Are they handling the stress in their lives so poorly that they can’t keep their cortisol stable? There are potentially many answers to one simple question. Therefore, we need to remember to think of many different possible solutions to the same presenting situation. And it’s not all about estrogen and progesterone! Take Away Tip: Balance adrenal hormones with stress reduction techniques such as www.heartmath.org and herbal adaptogens.
  4. Osteoporosis prevention and treatment goes beyond just getting enough calcium. Dr Levy covered this topic in great detail discussing lifestyle, nutrition and environmental elements that may contribute to this disease. Often overlooked with respect to osteoporosis are food sensitivities, Celiac disease, elevated homocysteine, inflammation and oxidative stress. When thinking about supplements and diets for prevention of osteoporosis he points out the value of Vitamin K, Magnesium and many of the micronutrients that get little attention. Take Away Tip: Address possible food intolerances, elevated homocysteine and inflammation. Make sure to get a balance of vitamins and minerals.
  5. The last lecture of the day was by environmentalist Patti Wood who covered a few of the important environmental issues she has been working on with us and pointed out that as caregivers and consumers we have a lot of choice when it comes to chemical exposures. In addition, women tend to be more vulnerable to environmental chemicals and even in small amounts they can have a profound effect. This was a good eye opener to many. Take Away Tip: Go to www.EWG.org when considering household products, cosmetics and produce.

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