The Best of Both Worlds

Dr. Christi Bonds-Garrett has integrated acupuncture, herbal medicine, and other facets of traditional Chinese medicine into her family medical practice since 1995, when she completed training in Medical Acupuncture at UCLA. In 2006, she completed a two-year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson with Dr. Andrew Well.

Christi Bonds-Garrett, MD, recently published a book about the healing power of essential oils and frequency entitled Vibrational Raindrop Technique. She integrates many more healing modalities into her medical practice at 233 North 7th Street in historic Lower Town.

How would you describe your philosophical approach to health and wellness?
My approach is that of Integrative Medicine (IM), which has been defined as “healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.” Health promotion and the prevention of illness are just as important as the more commonly used approach of treating an illness only as it arises.

A fundamental principle of IM is the partnership between patient and practitioner. This means that all factors that include health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, body, and spirit, as well as community.

What methods/treatment approaches do you turn to most in your practice?
I have used an “integrative” medical approach since 1995. Fifteen years ago, people talked a lot about “alternative medicine,” and we meant medicine that is used INSTEAD of conventional Western medicine. Then we started talking about “complementary medicine,” and we meant medicine that is used separately but WITH conventional Western medicine.

Finally Dr. Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona proposed the term “integrative medicine” to mean a medical approach that integrates the best medicine from ALL sources. Integrative medicine sees health as a balance between mind, body, and spirit. Being unhealthy is an imbalance or disharmony of the body’s natural energy (qi), and symptoms are the body’s way of showing that it is out of harmony and needs balance.

What do you think Eastern medicine specifically brings to our culture that is beneficial to the way you diagnose and treat?
Western medicine is primarily focused on disease management. Eastern medicine embraces more preventive therapies. The main strength of Eastern medicine is that it focuses on the prevention of chronic illness, and the recognition of the importance of lifestyle and the mind/body connection. Western and Eastern medicine are like two wings of a bird: both wings need to be strong and healthy in order to fly.

What do you think is the biggest deterrent to good health for most Americans? And how can we change the way we look at preventive health in America?
Our busy lifestyles are the biggest obstacle to good health! We work full time, have children who have many extracurricular activities outside of school in which we are involved, we eat on-the-run at fast food restaurants, and we don’t have time for exercise, much less for stress reduction techniques. Quite simply, most of us are trying to live several lives simultaneously!

If you could give one piece of advice to the magazine readers for the achievement of overall good health, what would it be?
How do we achieve good health in the year to come? It is actually simple and begins with the “Three Free Therapies”: nutrition, exercise, and spirituality. And these therapies are the foundation of an Integrative Medical approach.