Integrative Medicine

The Integrative Medicine Program at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health is a collaboration with The Institute for Family Health, a network of 32 health centers in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Dutchess and Ulster Counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Our work in family medicine is based on treating the whole person - the biomedical, psychological, social, economic, and environmental determinants of health. Systemic racism profoundly affects the health of the people we treat and their communities.

Racism is a long-standing and deeply rooted public health crisis that we must address within each one of us and in the system at large. The Integrative Medicine Program affirms that Black Lives Matter.

We join with the aspirations of all who seek to create a culture where each person feels seen, heard and supported.

Education, health services, and research initiatives all support our core mission of providing access to safe, cost-effective and evidence-based integrative primary care, with a focus on those who are medically underserved.   

We also partner with our colleagues throughout Mount Sinai Health System. As part of a large health system, we hope to bring together information on the wide-ranging clinical, educational and research initiatives on integrative approaches offered at Mount Sinai in order to create awareness, dialogue and opportunities for collaboration.

Below Are Some Noteworthy Initiatives and Developments In Integrative Healthcare

  • Slides of the talk “Integrative Medicine Approach to COVID-19” given to the Mount Sinai Downtown and Harlem Residents in Urban Family Medicine on May 13, 2020 by Anup Bhandiwad, MD. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1564K1KYVAhZPRuQtpNoCSgWrLsu3zyVp4o7VAueWuQc/edit?usp=drivesdk
    Of note: In addition to the approaches covered in these slides, there is some evidence for nasal rinsing of the sinuses to decrease the COVID-19 viral load. This is being investigated at Stanford, NYU, and several other universities. Because of the concern of a risk of contamination/aersolization, when a neti pot or nasal irrigator is used it should be cleaned well after each use and not shared with others.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will now cover acupuncture for Medicare patients with chronic low back pain. Physicians may provide acupuncture in accordance with state requirements. Physician assistants, NPs/CNS and auxiliary personnel may provide acupuncture if they are fully licensed in that state, have a masters or doctoral-level degree in acupuncture from an ACAOM-accredited school and are supervised by appropriate medical personnel. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-finalizes-decision-cover-acupuncture-chronic-low-back-pain-medicare-beneficiaries
  • The Department of Family Medicine is collaborating with The Institute for Family Health (IFH) and teams at Kaiser Permanente (CA and WA) and Sutter Health (CA) to conduct research as part of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) grant funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Pragmatic Trial of Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults” is a feasibility study.  As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Network, IFH is a unique research partner by providing care to underserved patients who generally have poor access to non-pharmacological pain treatments. The IFH team includes site Principal Investigator Raymond Teets, MD, Faculty and Director of Integrative Medicine at the Mount Sinai Downtown Residency in Urban Family Medicine and Acupuncture Research Consultant Arya Nielsen, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine. The four- year project begins with this pilot study recruitment of IFH patients who are aged 65 or older.
  • At the 2019 IM4US Annual Conference in August, Drs. Raymond Teets and Hyowoun Jyung contributed a poster presentation on the smart phrase research study they conducted for the Integrative Medicine Program in the Department of Family Medicine.
  • Heather Tick, MD and Arya Nielsen, PhD (Department of Family Medicine at Mount Sinai) authored a comprehensive commentary to the HSS on Inter-agency Task Force Pain Management Best Practices Draft Report, published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2164956119857656. The original draft report is available at https://www.hhs.gov/ash/advisory-committees/pain/reports/2018-12-draft-report-on-updates-gaps-inconsistencies-recommendations/index.html.

Principles of Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine, as defined by the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM) and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

Specifically, these guiding principles include:

  • A belief in the benefits of interprofessional collaboration and openness to new ideas and approaches that help achieve better health outcomes
  • Partnering with patients in a context of open and honest communication and mutual respect
  • Using the power of the therapeutic relationship to support the healing process and to co-design a treatment plan that matches patients’ preferences and abilities
  • Seeking to understand and address the context of illness, healing and wellness including the social, psychosocial, environmental, community, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the patient’s life
  • Focusing on prevention, wellness and patient health education, emphasizing the role of patient participation and self-care in both healing and prevention
  • Taking the time to focus on what is needed on a step by step basis, utilizing effective interventions that are natural and less invasive as the first line of treatment