InteGREATive Medicine: Heal the Body and Mind

Integrative Medicine Focuses on Health & Healing for the Body and Mind



Let’s face it: our society does not always make it easy for us to live a healthy lifestyle. From environmental concerns to lousy diets, we often choose poorly and conventional medicine is failing many who are unable to achieve optimal health. Although there is no on50x, integrative medicine is gaining steam as it strives to transform an individual’s collective health. 

So what exactly is “integrative medicine?” It combines Western medical views and procedures with other global healing methods, while emphasizing the individual’s mental and physical wellness. Integrative medicine aims to treat the individual as a whole, including the mind, spirit and emotions. Integrative medicine gets to the root cause and evaluates various curative traditions and Western medicine is just one piece of the paradigm. According to integrative medicine specialists, prevention is the key intervention resulting in the best possible health. 

“Conventional medicine is excellent for acute care, but it falls short of creating systems of health,” says San Diego–based specialist Mimi Guarneri, MD, one of the country’s pioneers in integrative medicine and president of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. “As a cardiologist, I recognized there was not much focus on health promotion and general wellness. For example, if someone is diabetic, it is easy to diagnose and prescribe medication. But what is the root cause? Integrative medicine studies the individual’s stress level, nutrition intake, possible environmental toxins and where he/she is mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Then, we better understand the entire picture.”

While placing thousands of coronary stents as an attending physician at Scripps Clinic, Dr. Guarneri recognized the need for a more holistic approach to cardiovascular health. In 1996, she began researching how lifestyle changes such as nutrition, yoga and exercise positively impact one’s health. A short time later, she founded the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine to help treat cardiovascular disease by focusing on lifestyle changes while utilizing top–of–the–line cardiac imaging technology.

“Through research, education and the construction of our own healing programs, we value and recognize the wisdom of all healing traditions,” says Dr. Guarneri.

Dr Guarneri

Located on the beautiful Torrey Pines Road, the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine offers imaging services and a fitness center, along with classes focusing on the body and mind. The Center aims to empower patients to facilitate their personal well–being while providing the necessary tools to live well. 

But integrative medicine is not limited to San Diego. Throughout the country, VA Hospitals have embraced integrative care. In addition, there are numerous integrative medicine centers, such as the Chambers Center for Well Being in New Jersey where Dr. Guarneri serves as a Senior Advisor. According to Dr. Guarneri, medical schools such as UCSD are also pushing to get young physicians trained in the specialty. Another advancement for integrative medicine occurred recently when the American Board of Physician Specialists began offering national board certification for Integrative Medicine. 

“This is a very big deal,” adds Dr. Guarneri. “The bar has been raised and integrative medicine is gaining attention in mainstream medicine and officially recognized as a specialty. We are teaching people the links between obesity, diabetes, toxins and cancer, how food can act as medicine and how stress can cause illnesses. Regardless of the medical challenge, we have the proper tools. Times are definitely changing for the better.”

Dr. Guarneri continues her mission to educate our society about Integrative Medicine. As the recipient of numerous national and international awards, she currently practices integrative health at Pacific Pearl of La Jolla. Furthermore, she serves on the International sub–committee for Direct Relief International and has authored several books including, “The Heart Speaks,” featured on PBS and the Today Show.