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Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine

University Health offers integrative medicine to adult and pediatric patients during consults from nurses or providers. Integrative medicine is an approach to the whole patient—body, mind and spirit—that combines holistic therapies with traditional medicine (surgery, medication, etc.). 

Dr. Jan Patterson, a medical doctor with fellowship training in integrative medicine, is the program’s medical director. Nurses on the integrative medicine team are educated in integrative modalities and provide patients with holistic therapies.

Integrative medicine is not an alternative to traditional medicine. Rather, it works in tandem with medical treatment to provide comfort and relief.

Integrative Medicine Tools

  • Meditation
  • Breath work
  • Mindfulness
  • Aromatherapy
  • Movement 
  • Nutrition
  • Reiki
  • Sound bowl therapy

Conditions Integrative Medicine May Help Relieve

  • Chronic pain
  • Stress 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Inhaling essential oils can influence how we feel. When we inhale, the aromas go up our olfactory nerve to the primitive part of our brain that controls our emotions and motivations. Our sense of smell is powerful in terms of influencing our mood and motivation. 

Essential oils each have their own purpose:

  • Orange can support the mood.  
  • Lavender supports calming and sleep.
  • Peppermint supports relief of nausea and may increase mental focus. 
  • Eucalyptus supports opening and clearing of the respiratory tract. 

Essential oils are usually used aromatically in hospital settings. 

Breath Work

Studies show that breath work and meditation can help control chronic pain. Intentional breathing and breathing exercises can help reduce stress, too.

We recommend the 4-7-8 breath exercise:

  • Inhale for 4 counts.
  • Hold for 7 counts.
  • Exhale for 8 counts.

Herbs and Supplements

Herbal teas and supplements are useful in soothing the nervous system, too. Green tea contains L-theanine, a compound that increases focus and calms the nerves. 

Lemon balm is a calming herb used in tea or as a supplement in capsules. Chamomile may help support sleep.


A diet high in processed foods and sugar is associated with anxiety with depression. By reducing your intake of these foods, you can improve overall health and mood. 

Some lifestyle choices for specific conditions include: