Milton Erickson, MD started a revolution early in his career, emphasizing the strength of the unconscious, and potentiating each patient’s own innate ability to overcome what may have seemed like insurmountable obstacles. His wisdom set the pace for what we now appreciate as integrative medicine. His insight preceded the development and use of CT, MRI, PET scans. Recent scientific studies have validated what Erickson knew intuitively, that with the added benefit of unconscious process through hypnosis and therapy, the body and mind have great capacity to heal when balanced and strengthened in the context of a healing relationship with others. Ericksonian therapy may very well be synonymous with integrative medicine.
It is important to safeguard our society and profession against the drift away from the fundamental premise that the body, mind and spirit are primary forces in healing and recovery. In this day of increased stress and toxic exposure, there may be a tendency to rely on medication for symptoms relief, taking us further away from natural healing to solve the root cause of our problems.
When psychotherapy and medicine focus on basic principles such as improving cognitive function, nurturing relationships, developing of our spiritual life, and judicious use of nutrients, we can balance our neurotransmitters organically.
Integrative medicine focuses on restoring the balance of the mind, body and spirit naturally (though not exclusively) by determining what may be lacking for the person. This includes increasing hope and trust as well as essential molecular elements such as nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and hormones. Integrative medicine is not just about restoration; it is also about elimination of those elements that may be toxic to our body and soul. These elements can range from internal and environmental factors such as dysfunctional cognitions and relationships as well as molecular factor such as heavy metals including mercury, lead, cadmium, and aluminum, all of which can have harmful and detrimental effects on our vascular and neurological systems.
Milton Erickson’s wisdom set the pace for what we now appreciate as integrative medicine.
We have learned a great deal about neurotransmitters and the biological role the endocrine system plays in brain. What we are learning now is a little like “Back to the Future.” In short, we’ve come to understand that the development of neurotransmitters is a biological process driven by a gut-brain pathway; that essential nutrients help form an optimal balance of neurotransmitters; and that overproduction of one or more neurotransmitters causes an inhibitory effects on our endocrine system. We also are learning that the application of basic biological principles of fundamental care can restore health, vitality, and quality of life. When psychotherapy and medicine focus on basic principles such as improving cognitive function, nurturing relationships, developing of our spiritual life, and judicious use of nutrients, we can balance our neurotransmitters organically.
Doctors who practice integrative medicine are pioneers, in the same manner Erickson did when he began to develop what we now appreciate as Ericksonian psychotherapy and hypnosis. His foresight and dedication to the belief of the inherent potential power that lies within each individual is a driving force in Ericksonian integrative medicine. Integrative medicine straddles the fence between traditional and natural approaches to healing, using medication when necessary, while remaining sensitive to the organic potency of the individual.
Gary P. Ruelas, D.O., Ph.D.
Integrative Medical Institute