Documentary Highlights Integrative Medicine

Dana Reeve hosts a two-hour documentary about doctors who are taking Western medicine to a new level

La Jolla, CA. The New Medicine, coming to PBS March 29, 2006, 9 p.m., is an in-depth look at the emerging field of mind-body medicine and how it is transforming health care in the United States. Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, La Jolla, is prominently featured in this two-hour documentary, which will be broadcast throughout the country.

Hosted by Dana Reeve, wife of the late Christopher Reeve, The New Medicine goes inside medical schools, health care clinics, research institutions and private practices to show how physicians are using integrative medicine to help heal patients with a broad range of medical problems. A mind, body, spirit approach, integrative medicine blends high-tech medicine with evidence-based alternative medicine in order to treat the whole person.

The New Medicinefollows Dr. Mimi Guarneri, cardiologist, and the medical director and founder of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine and her patient, William “Bill” Fink, who has already had several heart surgeries and is faced with a life-changing decision when he learns that intensive lifestyle change may help him heal.

“People should realize that coronary artery disease – the nation’s leading killer in both men and women – is essentially preventable,” says Dr. Guarneri. “Patients who decide to manage their health, through a multi-disciplinary approach involving mind, body and spirit, will considerably lower their chances of developing the disease. However, there is still a major role for Western medicine to play in the field of cardiology. There are so many factors that lead to heart disease and there are many ways to treat the disease. The best way to combat it is by taking an integrative approach and using the best of both worlds.”

At 56, Bill Fink has been wrestling with heart disease for more than 20 years.He’s had multiple heart attacks and a number of life-saving interventions including triple and quadruple bypasses. While high-tech medicine has done a good job of keeping Fink alive, it has not taught him how to improve his health.But now, through a program at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine called “Healing Hearts,” he is learning a new way of life—attending lectures on the functioning of the heart, working out in an exercise program, learning to buy and cook healthier food, attending support groups and stress management classes, taking classes in music, yoga and spirituality and more.

The New Medicineexplores the need for the field of medicine to balance drugs and surgery with prevention, engaging people as active players in their own health care.

“It’s all about caring for the whole person,” says Dr. Guarneri. “Integrative medicine takes patients, whether they have had a life crisis or whether they are just looking to prevent a life crisis, and puts them in an environment that’s going to address body, mind and spirit. Our approach is personalized for each patient’s unique medical challenges.”
“In Bill’s situation, surgery and medications are the reasons he is still with us today,” says Dr. Guarneri, who is featured throughout the two-hour documentary. “However, they have not helped him improve his heart health. This program explores how many physicians are moving toward programs that integrate our idea of Western Medicine – the surgery and the drugs – with the concept that people need to manage their overall health to improve their overall well-being. People need to realize there are more options for them than just what Western Medicine offers.”

Media Contact: Anna-Maja Dahlgren