One August a few years ago I became aware that my clothing was looser than usual. I felt a little concerned and a check-in with the bathroom scale revealed that I had lost almost 15 pounds in the past five weeks. I was shocked. If I had been trying to lose the weight I’d have been ecstatic, but I hadn’t been trying and the rapid weight loss coupled with some increasingly worrisome pelvic pain gave me pause. My PCP said to make an appointment with my GYN who called me in for an exam.
I was 37 and like most consumers of Good American Medicine, I had come to expect that when faced with physical or emotional discomfort, my doctor was going to write me a prescription. (I mean, who ever wanted to hear the pediatrician say their child’s infection was viral and not bacterial?)
My doctor did not disappoint. Right off the bat, he assured me that I wasn’t going to die. In fact, he said there was nothing wrong with me. However, since I was under stress from my divorce, he prescribed me a great big bottle of Xanax to assuage the pain.
According to research studies, it is commonplace for patients to equate good medical care with prescribed pharmaceuticals and I was certainly no exception. For almost four decades I believed the sustained health of my mind, body and spirit was inextricably tied to religious observance, completing each round of antibiotics and regular psychotherapy (but my therapy had to be kept secret – I didn’t want anyone to know I was challenged at handling my life).
Nutritionists were for losing weight. Healthy sleep was for my kids. Exercise was because everybody was doing it. Meditating was for monks. Stress reduction? Is that not an oxymoron?
I will spare you the tale of the Xanax experiment for now, but suffice it to say it led me to take a much deeper look into our health care system. I began to see how our primary care should be addressing all the components that comprise total health and a few years later I developed an Integrative Primary Care model at Tournesol.
I’d like to introduce you to our Primary Care Physician, Dr. Chloe Godwin.
Interview with Dr. Chloe Godwin Gorga, MD
Integrative Primary Care physician
1. In your opinion, what are the benefits of an integrative primary care program?
Integrative primary care is incredibly valuable in our current medical system which is increasingly fragmented into specialist care. This approach looks at the person as a whole and not just as one body part and strives to look for the root cause of medical issues. It's also beneficial because it creates a collaborative relationship between the doctor and patient. I enjoy empowering my patients to understand the variables affecting their health and giving them tools to help them improve their health as a whole.
2. How did you become interested in integrative primary care as an MD?
I became interested in integrative medicine while looking for answers to help my patients. Many of my patients have seen multiple doctors before coming to me and are often frustrated. The common theme was that after an expensive and often invasive workup they were told there was nothing wrong or nothing to do for their symptom. My holistic health education started when I began to look for tools to help these patients who were really suffering. I began to realize the necessity of addressing the mind body connection and shifting health through education, diet and lifestyle changes.
3. How does the program offered at Tournesol combine conventional and complimentary medicine? What does this mean for the patient?
Tournesol is a unique practice because it acts a bridge between western medicine, naturopathic medicine and mind body medicine. This is a powerful combination. The patient does not have to navigate these systems alone, but has support to help them build a personalized wellness plan.
Tournesol Integrative Primary Care offers a team-based physical, emotional and mind-body assessment that evaluates your current state of health. Your Tournesol Integrative Primary Care team Includes