An Integrative Path to Healing: Q&A with Dr. Fred Harvey
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
If there ever was a time for a thorough, in-depth lens into the full spectrum of our health, this would be it. For the past year, our bodies have weakened beneath the pressures of anxiety, fear, stress, loneliness, depression and other mental health concerns that can harm our physical well-being too. Now combine these stressors with existing chronic pain, medical issues or the threat of COVID-19 itself, and we are in desperate need of healing at the root level.
That is why I have chosen to focus this month’s Community Spotlight around the topic of integrative medicine. This form of healthcare merges the advanced research and technology of the West with the ancient wisdom and intuition of the East to develop a full-body treatment plan for each individual. In a season, when health can feel tenuous and inaccessible, it’s a relief to know there are practitioners in our own community who are devoted to our wellness. So this month, I want to shine a light on local integrative and functional medicine physician Dr. Fred Harvey for a deeper look at the benefits of these modalities.
Natural Awakenings: Could you summarize integrative and functional medicines’ approach to healthcare, and what does this entail in your practice?
Dr. Fred Harvey: Integrative medicine takes a healing-orientated approach which includes the use of both conventional and alternative healthcare methods. We combine Western medical testing and interventions, along with Eastern medicine philosophies which facilitate the body’s innate aptitude to heal itself when the obstructions to healing are removed. Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically, but uses the best of both worlds.
My career began in internal and geriatric medicine when I was drawn into advanced training in alternative medicine after learning from biochemist Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the father of functional medicine, through his ability to synthesize complex scientific ideas. As a result, the Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine (HCIM) in Sarasota is a primary care and consultative practice focused on both integrative and functional medicine which allows for multi-modality treatment options. My goal is to prevent disease rather than just to treat random symptoms by template matching a set of medical insurance codes.
HCIM does not accept insurance due to their restrictive limitations of coverage. In my practice, the team customizes an individualized treatment plan for each unique client. This wellness plan takes into account all physical needs including nutrition, exercise, hydration, sleep and emotional stressors. Due to our thorough attention to detail, a first-time consultation will often require between 90 and 120 minutes.
During an integrative medicine visit, we discuss detoxification, testing for metal and petrochemicals, and treatments for allergies or sensitivities. Often, I see patients with advanced dis-ease, so I work to bolster their systems with a combination of lifestyle changes, nutrition, acupuncture, chiropractic, psychotherapy, nutritional supplements, or in some cases, medications and other interventions like surgery.
Functional medicine is a patient-centered, science-based approach that focuses on revitalizing human function rather than just attacking the symptoms of a disease. Therefore, functional medicine trained physicians identify the root causes of an illness such as poor nutrition, stress, toxins, allergens, genetics and the human microbiome.
Many clients are drawn to my practice from out of state with complicated or misdiagnosed conditions. The increased acceptance of telehealth second-opinion consultations has been extraordinarily successful. As a result, I can review an out of town or isolating client’s lab results and medical records, then advise them on various concerns through a telehealth call. It is common for a loved one or caregiver to participate in the call too.
NA: I understand you have been using this telehealth model extensively in the past year. How has it benefited patients during COVID-19?
Dr. Harvey We have a mixed model at the Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine. The regulations on telemedicine have become less restrictive due to the pandemic. This allows me to advise patients remotely for chronic illness maintenance follow-ups, lab reviews and new health concerns that might arise.
With clients who are sheltering at home to limit their virus exposure, telehealth enables them to continue scheduling their necessary follow-up visits and remain conscientious about their healthcare. In-person visits are necessary for new patient consultations, primary care annual physicals and accurate diagnostic tests. To this end, my office team has also done an exemplary job of following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) health and safety precautions.
As I mentioned, clients who are challenged by their current illness or treatment protocol can also book a telehealth second-opinion consultation to review their history and functional medicine options. In most cases, this is done in collaboration with the primary care physician or another specialist such as a cardiologist, as I often work together with a client’s current practitioners to expand on their beneficial course of action. A second-opinion MD consultation utilizes a second set of experienced eyes and ears to evaluate all options.
NA: What specific treatment modalities do you offer, and what are the most common issues or concerns that you see in patients?
Dr. Harvey: We offer a variety of evidence-based treatment options here. Standard functional medicine operates in a similar fashion to the traditional Western model with office visits, history taking, extensive physical evaluation, and laboratory and imaging analyses. With this data, we can then make a treatment plan for each individual based on their own needs.
We offer in-house intravenous therapies, as well as a large Nutripharmacy, with premium vitamins and supplements. Some common health problems we treat are digestive issues or colitis, leaky gut, chronic fatigue, diabetes, high blood pressure, hormone imbalances, weight difficulties, arthritis, brain fog, sleep disturbances and allergies.
NA: February is designated as American Heart Month in the U.S.—what lifestyle shifts do you recommend in order to maintain healthy cardiac function?
Dr. Harvey: One of the main foundations of cardiac health is daily movement, so a brisk 30-minute outdoor walk each day provides excellent cardiovascular stimulation and can help to manage stress levels too. Adequate daily water intake is crucial too, as one half-ounce of water for each pound of body weight helps to flush out toxins.
A diet of organic, whole foods low in saturated fats can reduce stress on the vascular system as well. The Mediterranean Diet is an optimal choice for cardiovascular health. It includes 80% fruits and vegetables, with only 20% animal products. For the majority of adults, this equals five to seven vegetable servings and two fruit servings on a daily basis.
Chelation therapy is the most helpful intervention that we offer in our office for cardiac health. If someone has experienced a heart attack, it is shown that 40 treatments over the course of a year will reduce death rates by 20%, and in those with diabetes, by 50%. No other treatment intervention yields these same results.
The Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine is located at 3982 Bee Ridge Road, Suite J, Sarasota. For more information, call 941-929-9355, visit HarveyCenter.com or follow on social media at Facebook.com/HarveyCenterForIntegrativeMedicine.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features tips for embracing an active, nutritious, balanced and empowered lifestyle.