A Q&A with Dr. Sheryl Spitzer-Resnick, family medicine doctor and certified in integrativeand holistic medicine
Q: Having worked at Wildwood Family Clinic for twenty-three years in family medicine, what pushed you to get certified in integrative and holistic medicine?
A: It’s helped change my life in so many ways. When I was younger, I had unexplained infertility, endometriosis and fibroids. So, I went and got acupuncture done; I thought I’d get a massage once a month and exercise more. I didn’t get pregnant right then, but I did become interested in this whole other area [of medicine]. I noticed changes in my body—and I was comfortable with people doing things [and trying things] outside of the box. (Editor’s note: Spitzer-Resnick did get pregnant seven years later, and had a son).
Q: What is integrative medicine?
A: It’s the science of combining multiple therapies with the goal of enhancing the patient’s overall health. With holistic medicine, you look at people, not just an organ system. You’re addressing the care of the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Unfortunately what’s happened in the last twenty years is that doctors used to give you thirty-minute appointments, and now you get twenty or even ten
minutes. Doctors don’t have the time to get into the issues with patients. So often you go in and it’s just about getting improvement of symptoms because doctors don’t have time to get into underlying issues.
I think of Reiki, acupuncture, healing touch—they all work on the same system as far as I’m concerned. Now I think of those [modalities] as one of the greatest ways to heal people in western medicine that get “stuck.” People that have chronic pain, headaches, shoulder pain—I’ve seen them, and these people have done all of the traditional stuff. There are so many tools for health and healing. If you open your mind to using a variety of treatments, then you can find improvement even when you feel like you’re “stuck.” I think the most important factors in a person’s health are chemical and hormone balance and addressing the underlying stressors in a person’s life.
Q: You believe that hormones have so much to do with a woman’s overall health and mood—a specialty area for you. Can you explain?
A: We are hormonal beings. Women cycle monthly and many suffer from prementrual syndrome that gets worse in their forties with severe mood swings, anxiety, anger, irritability, irregular or heavy bleeding, fatigue, night sweats, hot flashes and insomnia. Usual treatments include birth control pills and antidepressants, which help the symptoms but do not fix the problem, which is estrogen excess caused by progesterone deficiency.
Natural progesterone is safer and fixes the underlying problem (it also decreases breast cancer risk) and helps women feel like themselves again, often in a few days. You need hormones for your brain to function properly—the prefrontal cortex that regulates your emotional center does not light up on functional brain scans without them. Choosing hormone therapy is reasonable and to minimize risk, one can test levels and use the lowest doses of natural hormones that work. Hormone balance puts women back in control of their lives naturally.
Q: What are your best health tips to share with us?
A: I think getting exercise and doing something that relaxes you—whether it’s yoga, meditation or taking deep breaths—is key. Eating healthfully, preferably an anti- inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean diet—makes sense. I believe vitamins are really useful to people. Take a good multivitamin, B vitamins, an Omega-3 supplement like fish oil and a probiotic supplement (or eat yogurt).
Generally, we are looking for as many natural solutions as we can. And I think these other systems of complementary healing, whether it’s seeing an herbalist, nutritional counselor or acupuncturist—all of these things aid healing.
Q: Where can people get more information on integrative and holistic medicine?
A: There are places all over the city that do acupuncture, healing touch, Reiki [et cetera]. If you need guidance you can always go to an integrative practitioner like myself who can help. The UW Integrative Medicine Program’s website is also very helpful (fammed.wisc.edu/integrative). Integrative medicine is particularly good when people want different solutions, not just a medicine to fix it. We should be using the best of everything for people.
- An online-exclusive Q&A with a Madison naturopathic doc Rebecca Georgia
- Look for alternative healthcare practioners in our Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide
Shayna Miller is associate editor of Madison Magazine.
Read more Health & Wellness columns here.