When patients find themselves in the Emergency Department at Carolinas Medical Center – Huntersville, they may end up going home with more than a prescription.
If Medical Director Dr. Eric Brown has anything to do with it, they may get a quick lesson in integrative medicine, too.
In addition to seeing the traumatic and acute issues that one would expect in the Emergency Department every day, Brown said he noticed patients were coming in with a lot of what are considered to be primary care issues.
“Things such as diabetes management, hypertension or a patient who had taken their own blood pressure and then come in to the ED,” Brown said.
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When he realized many of these issues could be prevented by simple changes in the patient’s lifestyle, he began sharing tips he had discovered over the years while learning about integrative medicine and the mind/body connection.
After studying traditional medicine at UCLA and completing his emergency medicine residency at Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles, Brown moved to Charlotte and began working at Carolinas Medical Center in 2002.
“But after practicing for four or five years, I began to realize that western medicine wasn’t offering enough for patients,” said Brown
So in 2007, he enrolled in a two-year Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona, taught by Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-known doctor who also writes and teaches on holistic health principles.
During that time, Brown said, he learned how to take into account every component of a person’s health, including their diet, nutritional supplements, stress level and lifestyle. He also learned the tremendous effects – for good or bad – that each of these can have on a person’s overall physical health.
“If more people understood (this) connection, they individually would be happier, and it could be infectious,” said Brown. “We gradually might see a change in society and people caring more about each other.”
For now, Brown is happy to share this information with the patients who cross his path in the Emergency Department.
He said there are six main areas we all should focus on for prevention of major diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke:
Eating a good diet: An anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as foods rich in omega-3 such as chocolate, tea and nuts.
Taking supplements: Especially Omega-3 and Vitamin D.
Exercising: Find something you enjoy that will get your heart rate up for 20 minutes a day. Add variety and change it up frequently.
Find time to relax: Get away from all distractions for 20 minutes a day by doing something restful and relaxing such as reading, praying or meditating.
Decrease bad habits: Such as smoking, drinking or recreational drug use.
Increase your social connections: Interact, laugh and share with other people regularly whether it’s at church, with family or friends.
Brown said it’s the last part that people today so easily forget.
“There’s a million different things that can take your attention away from others close to you – your cell phone, the computer or what happened on the job that day,” he said.
“Hopefully, society will get to a point where they realize the value of social interaction and find it more rewarding than interacting with computers.”