There was a time when the concepts behind integrative medicine were dismissed outright, but not anymore, thanks in large part to four pioneers in the health care field.
For the past two decades, Dr. Rachel Remen, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Andrew Weil amd Dr. Mehmet Oz have changed the way we think about health and healing. Remen, Ornish and Weil will be honored tonight by the Bravewell Collaborative for their work in changing the way we think about health and healing. The lecture and award ceremony will be moderated by Oz.
The four doctors appeared on "Good Morning America" today to take part in a round-table discussion about integrative health and what it means to them.
Get a primer of each of these doctors and their theories, below.
What is integrative medicine?
It's an approach to medicine which emphasizes prevention and seeks to integrate the best of scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of illness and healing.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is the founder of the Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Oz has written a book called "Healing from the Heart: A Leading Surgeon Combines Eastern and Western Traditions to Create the Medicine of the Future," which talks about his own path to discovering integrative medicine.
He is also the co-author, along with Dr. Michael Rozien, of the very popular "You: An Owner's Manual" and "You: On a Diet" books. Click here to visit www.youonadiet.com.
Oz's four basic prescriptions for better health are:
1. You need to break a sweat for 60 minutes a week. You can break that into three sessions. Whatever works best for you.
2. Lift weights for at least half an hour a week. The most important benefit is to avoid frailty, which can cause many problems. It also builds muscle mass, which burns calories not just during workouts, but in between them, too.
3. You should walk for at least half an hour a day.
4. Find whatever stress reduction technique works for you. Oz recommends deep breathing, which is the foundation for meditation in most cultures. By deep breathing, he means pushing your stomach out when you inhale and tucking it in when you exhale.
Dr. Andrew Weil is the founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and author of the best-selling books "Spontaneous Healing" and "8 Weeks to Optimum Health."
Weil also believes good nutrition is the key to a healthy life. The biggest single thing is to avoid manufactured, processed and refined food. Next, you should stay active throughout your life, whether it's vigorous or low-key — you just need to stay active. Finally, you should learn and practice ways to reduce your stress. He also recommends breathing techniques because they are easy to do and are very effective.
Find out more at www.drweil.com.
Dr. Dean Ornish is founder and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif.
He was the first to document that heart disease can be halted or even reversed by changing your lifestyle — meaning a low-fat diet, exercise and stress management, instead of drugs or surgery. Medicare now covers his program for treating heart disease, the first time it's covered an integrative medicine program.
Ornish has said that love and intimacy impacts our health and quality of life more than any other factor. Many well-conducted studies have shown that people who feel lonely, depressed and isolated are many times more likely to die prematurely from virtually all causes, than those who have a strong sense of love and intimacy, connection and community.
Find out more about the Preventive Medicine Research Institute at www.pmri.org.
Dr. Rachel Remen is co-founder and medical director of Commonweal Cancer Help Program in San Francisco.
Her emphasis is on medical training — teaching doctors to treat the whole patient, not just the disease. She has suffered from Crohn's disease for over 50 years, which has greatly influenced her perspective on treating patients.
Find out more at www.commonweal.org.