Frequently Asked Questions
How is the relationship between integrative & functional medicine and conventional medicine?
While advances in medical technologies have led to many lifesaving procedures, particularly in traumas and emergencies, many people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, or Alzheimer's disease, do not experience reversal of their disease for the most part. They take expensive medications chronically that often do not cure the disease.
To say this more simply, if we treat symptoms or diseased parts of the human body as being unrelated to each other, without considering the whole person, it is not surprising that the treatments often do not result in lasting therapeutic effect.
Integrative medicine and functional medicine move the field of medicine toward a whole-person approach to health. Instead of relying on the chronic use of medications that may not address the root of symptom and disease, an integrative and functional medicine approach to care considers the influence of dietary and lifestyle choices, mind-body connection, social and environmental influence, uniqueness of each person's body constitution and genetic makeup, and the therapeutic relationship, in order uncover the root-cause of illness and achieve whole-person healing.
Does integrative medicine exclude the use of conventional medications and procedures?
By definition, integrative medicine is a field of medicine that integrates the best of all therapeutic modalities, which can include conventionally prescribed medications and potentially lifesaving procedures (as well as other therapeutic strategies such as food as medicine, acupuncture, and mindfulness practice), and makes the best use of scientific evidence to arrive at an optimal treatment plan.
However, the goal of an integrative medicine treatment approach is to identify and address the root causes of disease, so that the use of medications that may not address the root of the problem can be safely minimized or avoided. Often, this results in eliminating medication side effects and the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of polypharmacy (the use of multiple medications), which is associated with increased risks for drug-drug interactions and falls, among other adverse effects. Patients, however, should not self-discontinue medications or change medications doses on their own, and should only do so under the guidance of their physicians.
Who can benefit from an integrative and functional medicine approach to health and healing?
Anyone. Integrative and functional medicine aims to understand and address root causes of symptoms and disease, rather than relying on the chronic use of medications or treatment strategies that may not reverse the disease course.
What is "food as medicine"?
"Food as medicine" conveys our ever-growing understanding of the fundamental role of food and nutrition in health and disease. What we eat now may be very different from what our grandparents ate. Dietary choices play a crucial part in contributing to the current global epidemic of chronic diseases, which now account for 7 out of 10 deaths worldwide.
Our diet plays an important role in most of the chronic diseases we see, including diabetes, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, and even Alzheimer's disease. Changing dietary choices often addresses the root cause of many chronic diseases and, as a result, can lead to reversal of these diseases. Often, medication use can be eliminated or minimized.
“Diets” are temporary changes in eating habit, while “food plans” are intended to be sustainably followed life-long. Depending on each person's health condition and body constitution, the optimal food plan for each person will differ. However, common to most therapeutic food plans is the emphasis on whole foods and plant-based nutrition.
In using food as medicine, Dr. Wang will work you to tailor your food plan according to your health condition and body constitution.
What can I expect during my first consultation appointment?
Prior to your visit, you will fill out a comprehensive health questionnaire, which Dr. Wang will review before the visit.
Your first consultation visit will last 90+ minutes (on average 2-3 hours). During the visit, Dr. Wang will review your health history and explore with you potential root causes of your symptoms and conditions. If you have previous records and lab testing results, please bring them with you. If you are taking medications or supplements, also bring them with you.
We will come up with a diagnostic plan, which may include conventional laboratory testing and specialized testing. Prescriptions and instructions for these tests, if any, will be given to you.
Dr. Wang will provide you with an initial treatment plan, which may include dietary recommendations and nutritional supplementation.
What can I expect during my follow-up appointments?
The first follow-up visit will typically take place 4-6 weeks after the initial consultation visit. At this time, Dr. Wang will discuss your laboratory testing results with you. Depending on the results of your tests and your symptoms, Dr. Wang may order additional testing if indicated.
Based on all of the data gathered, Dr. Wang will provide a personalized treatment plan, which will continue to be reassessed and adjusted in subsequent follow-up visits. A successful treatment journey requires your active participation and adherence to treatment recommendations and changes.
The therapeutic modalities we may use include an individualized food plan, targeted nutritional supplements, herbs, acupuncture, mind-body practice, lifestyle plan, and/or stress management strategy. Referrals to other integrative health practitioners may be provided, such as integrative and functional nutritionists, as well as potential classes or workshops that you may find useful.
What is the difference between integrative medicine, functional medicine, and lifestyle medicine?
Briefly, functional medicine can be thought of as a sub-specialty of integrative medicine and uses a systems-based approach to understanding health and disease and achieving health recovery. This field of medicine is prominently advanced by the Institute for Functional Medicine.
What kind of insurance do you take?
We do not accept insurance and are considered an out-of-network provider with all insurance companies. However, we will be happy to provide you with an invoice that contains appropriate coding information that you can submit to your insurance company, for reimbursement directly to you. The potential amount of the reimbursement, if any, varies with each insurance plan and depends on your plan's out-of-network benefits, and we cannot guarantee any such reimbursements.
For Medicare beneficiaries, we accept traditional Medicare and supplemental insurance.
Are laboratory and other diagnostic tests covered?
Conventional laboratory and diagnostic testing would be covered to the extent as they would usually be, just as with your visits to other providers.
I am taking prescription medications. Will they interfere with my treatment plan with Dr. Wang?
A comprehensive evaluation of your medical history and current treatment plan is an essential first step to understanding why you are on those medications. It is important to identify the root causes of your symptoms and diseases. Once they are identified and you are able to successfully follow treatment recommendations to address the root causes, then it would be possible to consider the discontinuation of medications or their reductions.
Dr. Wang will not change your existing medications. Your prescribing doctor or practitioner will discontinue your medications if they think you don't need them anymore as a result of your progress. Dr. Wang will make recommendations to your primary care practitioner and other specialists toward the goal of minimizing the use of medications, if appropriate. You should not self-discontinue medications or change medications doses on your own, and should only do so under the guidance of your physicians.
What kind of laboratory testing do you do?
Dr. Wang may order conventional laboratory tests and other diagnostic tests (such as ultrasounds), if necessary as part of the diagnostic work-up, just as they would be done by your other doctors.
Is integrative medicine the same as "alternative medicine," "complementary and alternative medicine," or "holistic medicine"?
All of these terms have different meanings.
"Alternative medicine" and "complementary and alternative medicine" (or CAM) are older terms that have fallen out of favor in the current medical literature.
The term "alternative medicine" was widely used in the U.S. and Europe in the 1980s because many health care consumers appeared to be choosing non-conventional healing modalities as alternatives to conventional medical practices.
Surveys in the 1990s found that people were using both conventional and non-conventional medical practices concurrently, to complement each other. As a result, the use of the term "complementary medicine" became more prevalent.
However, the use of the terms "alternative medicine" and "complementary medicine" conveys a sense of fragmentation in our health care delivery system and promotes seeing therapeutic modalities as disconnected silos.
"Integrative medicine" makes the best use of, and integrates, all therapeutic modalities, whether conventional or non-conventional (with respect to allopathic medicine), in order to achieve optimal healing. Therefore, integrative medicine incorporates what was previously referred to as alternative and complementary medicine, but aims to take the current health care delivery system toward the emphasis on whole-person healing, in body, mind, and spirit.
"Holistic medicine" is a less scientifically rigorous term widely used by the public. Its meaning can vary greatly, but it can loosely refer to alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine, as well as other traditional systems of healing.
What is the age range of patients that Dr. Wang sees?
Dr. George Wang provides medical care to all adults 18 years of age and over. He does not provide pediatric care. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
What is acupuncture useful for?
Based on clinical research results and clinical experience, acupuncture can have a therapeutic effect in the treatment of many health conditions. For a list of some of these conditions, see our Acupuncture page, as well as this page on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.