New UF Health program blends holistic therapies and modern medicine

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Acupuncture, meditation, massage — practices once considered “alternatives” to conventional medicine — are now becoming mainstream in hospitals and medical schools nationwide, and University of Florida Health’s Integrative Medicine Program is leading the way by expanding its services for patients.

As research continues to validate many of these ancient practices as effective treatments for chronic pain, nausea and stress, they’ve earned a new name that represents this unique partnership of conventional and holistic treatments: integrative medicine. This summer marks the one-year anniversary of the integrative medicine program at UF Health, led by the first fellowship-trained integrative medicine physician in Gainesville, Irene Estores, M.D. The program provides patients and staff with services such as guided imagery, medical acupuncture and yoga.

“Integrative medicine addresses the needs of the whole person — mind, body, spirit — in the context of community,” said Estores, the program’s medical director. “We’re coming back to our roots and honoring what was effective in other healing traditions and using that to be able to be more effective in caring for our patients.”

In July, the Integrative Medicine Program began offering services for patients seeking treatment at UF Health Shands Hospital and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. Consultation and referral services for outpatients soon followed, with clinic locations at both UF Health Internal Medicine — Tower Hill and UF Health Internal Medicine — Medical Plaza, as well as UF Health Hematology/Oncology — Davis Cancer Pavilion and at UF Health Integrative Medicine — Executive Health.

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