Baylor’s Integrative Medicine Program Offers Holistic Approach

Dr. Carolyn Matthews

Baylor’s Integrative Medicine Program in Dallas is blazing trails in North Texas. Located in the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, it provides complementary holistic treatments to traditional medical approaches. It’s also designed for those seeking a rigorous wellness program for preventive care.

“This is for anyone who wants to think outside of the box for how they can be healthier,” says the program’s director, Dr. Carolyn Matthews. Although the integrative medicine program is located in the cancer center, Matthews says patients suffer from a variety of chronic diseases and chronic pain. Some healthy clients also seek treatment as part of their wellness program. “These are people who say, ‘I want to do everything I can to remain as healthy as possible,’” says Matthews. “These are some of my favorite patients.”

Integrative medicine works in tandem with traditional treatments, using mind-body-spirit oriented therapies that have some evidence basis. The program begins with an in-depth consultation with a doctor that reviews a comprehensive medical history and environmental factors impacting the client to develop a personalized program. Prescriptions may include lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, counseling and acupuncture. Support with journaling, guided imagery, massage therapy and botanical and nutritional supplements is also offered.

Matthews says her own bout with cancer led to her interest in alternative therapies. In 1995, after going through multiple radiation treatments, she asked, “What else can I do?” That’s when she started exploring mind-body approaches and nutritional therapy. “I can't prove that it helped my cancer, but I do think it helped me feel better,” said Matthews. Wanting to share what she learned, she completed a fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona in 2008.Baylor’s Integrative Medicine

When Baylor was planning the Sammons Center, she lobbied them to include an integrative medicine program, following the example of leading medical facilities such as MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering. As a result, Baylor now has the first hospital-based integrative medicine program in North Texas.

Although this proactive approach remains outside the mainstream, Matthews believes emphasis should be placed on nutrition and lifestyle. “We’re looking to create the best foundation for health that anybody can have,” she says. “Then if you have to go to pharmaceuticals, radiation etc., you’ll have tools in your toolbox for coping with side effects of those treatments.”

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