Holistic, Functional and Integrative Therapies Abound
Holistic, integrative and functional medicine therapies such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and herbalism are often used alongside conventional medicine to achieve positive health outcomes. While they are familiar to most people exploring natural alternatives, lesser-known treatments such as specialized functional testing, ozone therapy and hyperbaric oxygen are gaining traction in holistic, integrative and complimentary arenas.
Specialized Functional Testing
Specialized functional testing aligns with the common principle of holistic, integrative and functional practitioners—getting to the root causes of symptoms. Naturopathic doctor Jennifer Trejo, of Abundant Life Wellness, uses saliva, hormone and stool testing in addition to bloodwork, going beyond standard lab work to detect hormone imbalances, digestive disorders, autoimmune conditions and more.
“We use saliva to test hormones, which can change during certain times throughout a woman’s cycle or during menopause,” she explains. Because most natural health practitioners believe that illness begins in the gut, Trejo uses stool testing to check for good bacteria, as well as pathogens that affect the body’s ability to digest and break down food. The results can help pinpoint specific problems that can be addressed individually, rather than a one-size-fits-all pharmaceutical approach.
Trejo notes that food sensitivity testing can also be an indicator of an unhealthy gut. “The gut goes hand-in-hand with food sensitivities, which can even be brought on by foods considered ‘good’ like broccoli, coconuts or avocados,” she explains. “Sometimes good food can cause inflammation in a person’s body if the gut is imbalanced.”
Pharmacist Lark Swofford, of Abrams Royal Compounding Pharmacy, offers health consultation services and uses functional techniques such as salivary hormone and neurotransmitter testing, which is done via urine samples. She also orders bloodwork for patients, which she says helps patients in-between doctor visits.
“If a doctor ran a panel but didn’t run the vitamin D test, I can order that for the patient. I look at low vitamin D levels because that can contribute to depression, autoimmune disease and even cancer. That’s an easy one to look at, and it’s very economical for the patient to have that checked.”
She notes that standard conventional lab panels can be used in a functional manner. Lab results generally show “normal” ranges and flag results for levels that are too high or too low, but Swofford looks at optimal ranges, which can help correct an issue before it needs pharmaceutical intervention by a conventional practitioner.
Swofford catches a lot of anemia issues because many tests show red blood cell counts are within regular ranges, but may lean toward high or low ranges. “I also look at a patients’ symptoms,” she says. “Some people have symptoms of anemia and they’re told by doctors that their labs look fine, but the patient still feels terrible.”
Detailed thyroid testing goes beyond the standard thyroid stimulating hormone panel to detect issues in older men and women. “As the body ages, it doesn’t produce a lot of hormones,” Swofford explains. “We’re now living so much longer than our ancestors, so we need to make sure there’s hormone balance—it will never return to when we were in our 20s—but we have to make sure we’re protecting our organs and bones so we can live a healthy, happy life.”
Specialized functional testing offers a customized approach for each individual, Trejo says, thus saving time and money. “Many people that come to us have already tried many different supplements and have been to other doctors. They’re financially weary, so specialized functional testing streamlines and pinpoints exactly what a person needs, saving time and money.”
Ozone therapy involves using ozone gas on or in the body to treat a disease, infection or wound. Integrative[MM1] and biological dentists often use ozone to kill bacteria in cavities and within the mouth.
Board-certified nurse practitioner and naturopathic doctor Julie Clowers, of Living Springs Natural Health, has used ozone therapy for joint injections and other issues ever since a relative enjoyed a remarkable recovery after a rotator cuff injury.
Clowers describes ozone as supercharged oxygen that recognizes and reacts to foreign pathogens in the body such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and any injuries or inflammation. She adds that ozone helps balance and regulate blood cells.
Ozone can be administered through several methods. Clowers uses ozonated water, which can be put into dropper bottles and used on the eyes to cure issues such as pinkeye. There is also an altered stethoscope that introduces ozone into the ear canal for kids with ear infections. “It will kill organisms on contact,” she says. “It can be used in the nose for sinus issues. We make ozone water to drink, which reduces inflammation in esophagus and stomach, and kills off bad bacteria in the upper intestines.”
Ozone can be administered intravenously. The process involves draining eight ounces of blood, hyper-oxygenating it with ozone, and then injecting it back into the body. Ozone can also be applied topically on skin, applied vaginally to treat yeast infections or administered rectally in combination with drinking ozone water to promote colon health. Ozone steam saunas dampen the skin’s surface so that ozone can be absorbed transdermally.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used for many years to treat decompression sickness, nonhealing wounds and severe burns. The hard-sided hyperbaric chamber has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat 13 different conditions, but HBOT has shown to be effective in treating a host of off-label ailments, explains Alfred Johnson, DO, founder of Johnson Medical Associates.
“Hyperbaric works by placing a person in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The individual breathes in 100 percent pure oxygen under pressure, which fully saturates the blood delivering oxygen to the tissues in greater concentration,” says Johnson. “Hemoglobin normally carries oxygen to the body tissues through the blood vessels. Under hyperbaric conditions the serum in the blood vessels is also filled with oxygen, super-saturating the blood vessel contents, delivering many times greater concentration of oxygen to the body.”
Oxygen nourishes all the tissues in the body, including the brain, kidneys, lungs, muscles, heart and liver. “Increased concentration of oxygen helps heal tissue damage, whether it’s from trauma such as traumatic brain injury, concussions, infections, osteomyelitis (infection of the bone), post-encephalitis dementia (infection of the brain) or other tissue damage,” Johnson says. “It also helps regenerate cells damaged from toxic chemical exposures from substances such as pesticides, solvents and mold toxins [mycotoxins], caused by indoor mold exposure. Mycotoxins are toxic to the nervous system and cell metabolism. These types of toxic exposures cause ‘brain fog’, memory loss, numbness and tingling sensations, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting and irritable bowel.”
Johnson notes HBOT is also a tool to not only heal body tissues, but to promote longevity, as recently published in the journal Aging. In addition, it is useful in the treatment of symptoms from post-COVID syndrome, as cited in Scientific Reports.
Most people are good candidates for HBOT and can tolerate the hyperbaric chamber well. The length and frequency of treatments vary depending on each individual’s condition.
Sources: Abrams Royal Pharmacy, 8220 Abrams Rd., Dallas, 214-349-8000 and 4909 W. Park Blvd., Ste. 177, Plano, (arp-rx.com); Abundant Life Wellness Center, 3100 N. Tarrant Pkwy., Ste. 104, Fort Worth, 817-379-3770, AbundantLifeWellnessCenter.com; Living Springs Natural Health, 251 Harker Tr., Rockwall, 972-722-4668; Johnson Medical Associates, 997 Hampshire Ln., Richardson, 972-479-0400, JohnsonMedicalAssociates.com.