Why See an Integrative Doctor?

Bodies can be complicated, and it can be hard to find the right path to treat subtle, chronic, or frustrating health issues. Coming to see an integrative doctor can help connect the dots and coordinate your care moving forward, both with your other physicians and with your integrative therapists.

Medical Consults with Dr. Gurjeet Birdee give you that opportunity. Dr. Birdee is a physician scientist who has spent over a decade researching the effectiveness of integrative care. He has a deep expertise in the evidence behind the treatments we offer at Ha.Lé, and is able to best direct patients in their integrative care.

Our understanding of the body is always improving. There is a constant stream of new information being published, helping to deepen our understanding of the body and its mechanisms. However, conventional healthcare is often not up to date, and it can sometimes take decades for proven information to make it into widespread consideration.

This is one reason why many proven integrative care modalities are not yet recognized or included in conventional care. It is not because they have not been studied, or were shown not to help. It is because conventional healthcare is sometimes very slow to incorporate new insight into the body.

Because Dr. Birdee has done the research, he understands how best to incorporate integrative care into your overall treatment plan. He will direct you with specific timelines and expectations, and will communicate with your other physicians about your care. Integrative care offers effective treatment for a wide variety of health issues, and Medical Consults now make them easier to access more effectively.

Introducing Medical Consults with Dr. Birdee

Sometimes we have health issues that are subtle, complex, or difficult to heal. Integrative care like bodywork, acupuncture, and therapeutic movement will often help, but it can be challenging to coordinate your own care on two fronts–with your physician(s), and with your integrative care therapists. Medical Consults at Ha.Lé help you bridge the communication gap and access the integrative treatments that will best support your health.

Dr. Gurjeet Birdee is a physician who has spent over a decade researching the effectiveness of integrative care. There are a lot of options out there for unconventional therapies for health, and many of those therapies may not be effective or safe. Dr. Birdee is an expert on what has been proven to help.

A Medical Consult is an hour long appointment where Dr. Birdee will listen to your story and assess your health. He will then direct your integrative care, giving you specific timelines and expectations for your treatment. He will also communicate with your other physicians, helping to coordinate your care.

Medical Consultations are not designed to replace the care of your other physicians, but to add integrative treatments to your care in the ways that will be most effective for you. This can be especially helpful for health issues that have been difficult or frustrating to treat because it gives you access to coordinated treatment through conventional and integrative care.

Integrative care is proven to be effective for a wide range of health issues, but access to it is usually outside of the conventional healthcare system. Medical Consults at Ha.Lé help bridge that gap, engaging the expertise of a physician to direct you to the integrative care that best meets your needs.

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Therapeutic Benefits of Walking

Walking is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It activates deep biological processes for health, balance, and wellbeing, supporting both physical and mental health. Our bodies are designed to walk as our main mode of getting from one place to another, and many of our biological systems work best when we are in motion.

When we go for a walk, our circulation increases, which nourishes our whole body with blood and oxygen. This nourishment provides what our tissues need to repair themselves, often solving minor issues before we even notice them.

Walking also helps calm the mind and reduce the effects of stress. The rhythm of walking helps us enter a light meditative state, which then regulates breathing, lowers stress hormones, and can bring a sense of peace and calm.

The actual act of putting one foot in front of the other keeps our bodies and minds in conversation with each other. The motion of it involves complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Walking helps tune up those interactions, and increase coordination in general.

Going outside to walk increases all these benefits by adding fresh air and uneven ground. The fresh air, open space, and interactions with nature all help to boost the immune system and regulate sensory processing, and may offer a sense of peacefulness. Uneven ground keeps our coordination and stabilization systems active, reducing the likelihood of falling and helping improve joint health.

Going for a walk is one of the most fundamental self-care practices we can do. It directly supports comprehensive mental and physical health, which in turn increases our internal feelings of vitality and our overall sense of wellbeing.

Keeping your Immune System Strong

Our immune systems are crucial to staying healthy and feeling good, and they can be especially challenged when the weather changes. Bouncing temperatures and frequent rain can make us more vulnerable to viruses. Here are ways to support our immune systems to keep us healthy.

Treat Stress

When we feel high stress or chronic stress, it makes it hard to fend off viruses. Stress diverts resources away from immune function as the body decides that it needs to survive the immediate crisis that is causing stress first, and then it will worry about germs. Lowering cortisol and other stress hormone levels helps the immune system come back up to speed. Bodywork, acupuncture, and restorative classes are all great ways to reduce stress in the body.

Move Lymph

Our lymph system moves pathogens and other waste out of our bodies, and helps spread white blood cells throughout the system. Bodywork is especially helpful for moving lymph through the body, bringing new nutrients into tissues and supporting immune function. Movement classes and going for walks also help lymph circulate for healthy immune function.

Nourish Yourself

A lot of immune function is rooted in the gut and the digestive system. Using nutrients like vitamin C to boost the body in the moment can be helpful. It is also important to work on your digestive health overall, before you feel like your body is trying to fight something off. Acupuncture can help regulate digestive function, and nutrition counseling can help you address gut inflammation, dietary imbalances, and food issues.

When we support our immune systems so that they can function well, we are less likely to get sick from viruses. By managing our stress levels, keeping our lymph system flowing, and nourishing our digestive and other health, we can keep our immune system strong and balanced.  

Pain from Injury, Activity, and Aging

Our bodies use pain to tell us there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Pain can come from things like repetitive motion, poor posture, highly active lifestyles, and accidental injuries. It can be a short term issue, or last for a while. The good news is that there are direct ways to treat and reduce pain levels through integrative care.

Injury: Recovering from an injury is sometimes a frustrating process that takes longer than we would like. Supporting the body through this process involves both gently working with the injury, and releasing tension from the other parts of the body that are compensating while the injury heals. Bodywork therapies can directly reduce inflammation, relieve tension, and nourish the injury with blood and nutrients. Classes help build awareness of new movement patterns and relieve tension, and Acupuncture can reduce pain signals and promote overall balance for affected systems of the body.

Athletic Performance: Highly active lifestyles like running, rock climbing, and kayaking push your body to higher levels of performance and fun. This means your body needs extra recovery in order to prevent injuries. Classes to support full relaxation, rebalancing, and core strength help the body recover and nourish itself. Bodywork and Cupping Therapy help improve recovery time and can increase athletic performance.

Aging: Small imbalances accumulate into aches and pains over time, which means that getting older often means increased pain from years of repetitive motions, posture habits, and old injuries. Bodywork can help treat and rebalance the causes of these various aches and pains. Acupuncture is effective for reducing pain levels overall, and addressing underlying dysfunctions. Classes reinvigorate and reactivate the body, improve muscle tone and balance, and help develop awareness of movement patterns.

Integrative care offers effective ways to treat pain from injuries, athletic performance, and aging. It supports the body’s own healing processes and increases your internal sense of wellbeing, partnering with you in your care in order to create health.

What Acupuncture Can Do

Acupuncture focuses on rebalancing the body. It can both address specific health issues, and help promote overall health. It uses hair-thin needles to cue the body toward balance, and is very safe and effective.

Acupuncture is proven effective for treating pain. It helps with all kinds of pain, including arthritis, dental pain, pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, menstrual pain, back and knee pain, and headaches. It helps by regulating the pain signals of the nervous system in order to turn down the volume. It also is able to address the underlying imbalances that cause the pain in the first place.

In addition to treating pain, acupuncture is able to treat and rebalance the various systems of the body. It is effective for various kinds of allergies, regulating hormonal systems, balancing the heart and circulatory system, and easing digestive difficulties. It works alongside other medical treatments, and at Ha.Lé, we are happy to partner with your doctor in your care.

Because acupuncture rebalances the system of the body, it helps improve overall health and wellbeing. It is able to rebalance small problems before they become big problems, and can help keep the many complex systems of the body running more smoothly.

The body is a complex of biological systems interacting with each other. Acupuncture is a safe, effective way to help maintain their balance, creating health deep in the interconnected systems of the body.

More Mindful Posture

Our bodies have posture, which means that we resist the pull of gravity by holding our body in a certain shape. A healthy posture gives us ease and economy of motion, helps with coordination, and provides a balance between stability and mobility.

How we move can affect our posture. Think about typing at a keyboard all day, and how that can round the shoulders and move the head forward. These movements train our muscles into certain patterns, which changes our posture, and then our posture affects the shape of even more movements.

Over time, posture issues can get locked into chronic holding patterns in our muscles. This causes ongoing muscle tension and discomfort, from where we are holding ourselves in less than optimal ways. For example, our spine is designed to stack, vertebra by vertebra, to provide a structure that helps support our relatively heavy head. When we lean our head forward off that stack, the muscles in our neck and shoulders compensate. For every inch forward, it is as if the head is 10 pounds heavier!

There are several ways to address posture issues and retrain the body. Mindfulness is one of the most broadly practiced methods. This can be done through reminding yourself to notice your posture every so often throughout the day. It can also be practiced in movement class or during other activities. Notice which muscles you are using, and see if you can shift that movement so that it comes from the core instead of the extremity. Somatics and Feldenkrais also really help connect awareness to movement in order to correct imbalanced patterns.

In addition to mindfulness and therapeutic movement techniques, bodywork that addresses fascia can be very helpful for posture issues. Structural Integration and Myofascial Release techniques help adjust the connective tissues that hold the body in the shape it is used to, releasing old impingements and adhesions to free up range of motion.

Working on healthy posture is progressive. The more you can learn to engage the right muscles and release tension from less healthy patterns, the better your posture will be. It is often a process of cultivating awareness, and can have tremendous benefits for overall health and wellbeing.

How mental health care helps reduce pain

Pain is more than a feeling, but a physical event in the body, with physical, neurological, and psychological effects. When pain is present for extended periods of time or becomes chronic, it changes how our bodies think and feel. Mental health care and counseling can help treat these changes and can often reduce pain levels.

Pain feelings are real, and are subjective, which means that there is no outside test to determine how much pain someone is in. In many ways, pain is like an alarm in the body, and the volume of the alarm can get turned up or down, depending on a lot of complex physical factors. There are mental techniques that help regulate the volume of the alarm and turn it back down, and counseling and mindfulness both help with this process.

Some people with chronic pain or a pain syndrome are reluctant to access mental health care for their pain, because there is a worry that if it is “all in your head”, then it “isn’t real.” Pain is never “all in your head,” but it does have specific mental and emotional consequences in addition to the ways it physically affects the body. All of these effects are real, and deserve to be treated and addressed through care.

Pain changes the way your brain works, and mental health care like counseling can help manage these changes and the stress, depression, anxiety, and other feelings that pain can cause. Our bodies are complex systems, and our minds are a part of that system. Easing suffering is important, and counseling for pain helps do that.

Movement that Restores Wellbeing

Our bodies are made to move! Deep biological processes in the organs, tissues, and nervous system are based on a foundation of physical movement and activity. This is why therapeutic movement can have such profound health and healing effects; the right kinds of movement can restore function and health at their root.

Therapeutic Movement classes like we offer at Ha.Lé are designed to work for a wide range of bodies, ages, and experience levels. They help create health, reduce stress, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. On a physical level, they:

  • Increase circulation
  • Increase bone density
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Release tension
  • Reduce pain
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve balance

Movement classes also provide significant mental health support by increasing mental clarity, reducing anxiety, and stabilizing mood. We can then further strengthen the mind-body connection by adding mindfulness practices and body awareness in order to boost the stress and pain management benefits. Being in class also activates social wiring and mirror neurons in the brain, deepening your practice through being in community.

One of the most effective ways to support your health and feel better in your body and mind is to set aside time for therapeutic movement classes. It creates a space dedicated to caring for yourself, and activates deep natural processes of health.

Knee & Joint Health

Our knees and other joints can pop, grind, crunch, and make a variety of interesting sounds. Especially if you are increasing or changing your physical activity level, these sounds can be alarming. Often they cause worry about the health of the joint and whether something serious could be wrong.

What makes those sounds: There are a lot of complex tissues in our joints, and most of them can make some noise. Tiny bubbles can form in the joint fluid due to changes in joint pressure, and they make a sound when they pop. Ligaments and tendons can make a click or pop sound as they move over a bony lump and snap back into place. Cartilage can develop uneven areas as we age, and a grinding or crunching sound can be from those rough surfaces gliding across each other.

When to worry: As long as there is no pain or swelling, these sounds are not a reason to worry. They can come from age, use, or healed injuries, and the noises are not part of the alarm system of your body. Our body uses pain and swelling to indicate that there is a problem, and that is how you know when the joint needs extra attention and treatment. And if you ever experience a sudden pop followed by pain, that is almost always an injury that needs treatment.

Support for Joint Health: There are a few keys to supporting joint health, whether they are just noisy or are causing discomfort. Bodywork and movement classes both help restore alignment so that the right muscles and connective tissues are working together, and to relieve muscle tension that can contribute to joint pain. Hydration of the tissues is also key to keeping joints supple and healthy, which is especially supported by bodywork and therapeutic movement. (Hydration in this case means more than just drinking enough liquids; it means using movement or manual therapies to move fluids through the tissues themselves.) Acupuncture is also very effective at treating pain and the imbalances that may be causing that pain.

Joints like knees and shoulders that make interesting sounds without pain are not a cause for alarm. They can serve as reminders to stay committed to our self care, but do not indicate serious damage or injury to the joint.