A discussion with Dr. Eric Nager of Belcara Health

By Dr. Eric Nager

This is a question I’m asked almost every day. These terms – holistic, natural, homeopathic, functional, and integrative medicine – are often confused. While there are similarities between these healthcare approaches, there are, in fact, important differences.

The primary commonality between these disciplines is that they represent an alternative to conventional Western medical healthcare. Essentially, conventional medicine views the body as a collection of separate systems and isolated parts, using pharmaceutical medications and invasive procedures to treat or suppress a patient’s symptoms. Conventional medicine is a great way to address urgent conditions such as heart attacks, broken bones, acute illnesses. However, it does not seek to address the underlying root cause of chronic disorders or diseases and provides little to no preventative care support. These are some of the reasons that various forms of alternativemedicine are quickly gaining popularity today. While many leading alternative healthcare approaches overlap in focus and scope, each has its own emphasis and value. Here is a brief overview:

Functional medicine treats the person who has the disease, not the disease the person has. It considers the patient as an integrated whole, not just isolated parts, and aims to identify the root causes of any health problems. It involves extensive diagnostic assessments to learn how all the major body processes are working together to gain a deep understanding of a patient’s overall health and wellness. By treating the root cause, instead of just its symptoms, patients can reverse or eliminate the condition completely. It also helps prevent future ailments from ever occurring by identifying early indicators of future disease and improving your overall health and wellness.

Integrative medicine represents a combination of both conventional and functional medicine to provide highly comprehensive, patient-centered care. It accounts for all aspects of the patient including, lifestyle, medical history, and current physical condition. Based on this information, it uses treatments that work with the patient’s unique body chemistry and lifestyle to restore a healthy, balanced state. Common treatment options include food sensitivity testing and nutrition counseling, lifestyle and fitness improvements, micronutrient supplements, bioidentical hormone replacement therapies, massage, and acupuncture, as well as, traditional pharmaceutical drugs and procedures.

Natural medicine, also called naturopathic medicine or naturopathy, looks to the healing power of nature. Treatment focuses on diet, detoxification, micronutrient supplements, botanicals, lifestyle and environmental modifications, as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage. Unfortunately, there is a lack of accountable training and licensing standards for naturopathy in the US to ensure that practitioners are providing quality patient care.

Holistic medicine also addresses the whole person but considers the mind and spirit as much as the body. Seeing them interconnected, holistic treatments aim to bring the mind, body, and spirit into balance and harmony to eliminate disease and achieve optimal health and wellness. Holistic medicine is more of a vague, broad concept than a specific healthcare approach. All good healthcare providers who can see the big picture and connect all the dots to help their patients heal and thrive can be considered holistic.

People are complex creatures, and no singular approach will meet everyone’s healthcare needs. All the healthcare modalities mentioned in this article have merit, so it is important to understand how best to utilize them. Most people would benefit from a combination of these disciplines to address health problems and maintain optimal wellness. That is why it is important to find a qualified medical professional with proper training and experience to recommend the right treatments, or combination of treatments, to help you live a healthier, happier, more vibrant life today and in the years to come. t

Dr. Eric Nager is a board-certified physician specializing in integrative medicine and director of wellness at Belcara Health in Baltimore. Dr. Nager uses his extensive knowledge of the body as a foundation for identifying and treating disease processes. He focuses on preventing chronic diseases through the integration of functional and traditional medicine, education, and lifestyle changes to help patients enjoy healthier, happier, more vibrant lives. Learn more about Dr. Nager and Belcara Health at Belcarahealth.com or call 410-296-0414.

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Belcara Health
Belcara Health
Where health and beauty blend.

Belcara Health is a unique, multidisciplinary practice offering Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Wellness and Skincare services - all under one roof. The practice’s renowned specialists collaborate to provide a continuum of care with integrated, personalized services and procedures designed to help patients live happier, healthier, more vibrant lives – now, and for the years ahead.

Dr. Michael Cohen, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Gary Vela, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Bradley Robertson, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Nadia Mostovich, Facial Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Ciro Martins, Dermatologist
Dr. Richard Adler, Ophthalmologist
Dr. Eric Nager, Integrative Medicine
Dr. Andrew London, OBGYN

Belcara Health / 1427 Clarkview Road / Suite 300 / Baltimore, MD 21209 /
BelcaraHealth.com / 410.296.0414