With the flood of health information in periodicals, online articles and social media, many people wonder whether they might benefit from alternatives to traditional medical treatments. At the same time, they may be concerned that it could be a serious—even deadly—mistake to abandon traditional treatment.
Bindiya Gandhi, a double board-certified family medicine physician, said there is value in both and offers what is called “integrative medicine” at her recently opened clinic, Revive Atlanta, MD, on North Decatur Road in Decatur. Integrative medicine focuses on caring for the whole human being—body, mind and spirit, she explained.
Gandhi, who completed her family medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia in 2014, said she began early in her studies to consider whether there sometimes might be preferable alternatives to prescription drugs. “All drugs have side effects,” she said. “Sometimes a drug prescribed to address one health problem may create others.”
With an undergraduate degree in psychology and biology from the University of Georgia, Gandhi has a keen interest in the health relationship between mind and body. “Once when I was working in a psychiatrist’s office I got in trouble for recommending that a patient try meditation. The doctor treated people primarily with prescription medicine and was opposed to non-pharmaceutical approaches. I thought, ‘That’s crazy. Why not try meditation?’”
Gandhi emphasized that she is not opposed to the use of prescription drugs. “Sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. There are many very useful drugs on the market and they should be prescribed when appropriate,” she said, adding that many patients benefit from a blend of traditional and alternative medicine.
“I spend more time talking with patients than many doctors do. Some may have multiple health concerns. We look at their symptoms together to agree on an approach. I want to empower patients to care for themselves. I am an adjunct in their healthcare, but they make daily choices that can help or hurt their health,” Gandhi said.
Her integrative care might include herb supplements, exercise, dietary changes, yoga and meditation. “I meditate twice a day myself,” she said. She also is a certified yoga instructor and reiki master. Gandhi said she is considering offering meditation classes in the near future.
Gandhi, who completed her study of integrative medicine at the University of Arizona in 2016, said she also seeks to educate patients. “A patient, for example, may ask for an antibiotic thinking it will quickly clear up the problem when what the person has won’t be helped by antibiotics. Also, the overuse of antibiotics may make the person’s body resistant to them. Sometimes, the person needs a more long-term approach. If you’re looking for a quick fix, I’m probably not the doctor for you.”
She said patients are becoming more educated on their own—primarily through the internet. “Not everything on the internet is reliable or understandable. That’s why it’s important to discuss herb supplements or other alternative approaches with a healthcare professional who understands what the supplement can and can’t do and how it might interact with drugs they are taking.”
Gandhi said she calls her clinic Revive Atlanta because the name captures the spirit of what she’s trying to do. “I don’t want to just fix isolated health problems but revive the person to a higher quality of life,” she said, adding that Decatur is an ideal location for a practice such as hers.
“People in Decatur are interested in living vibrant, healthy lives and they like to stay on the cutting edge of emerging information that can improve their quality of life,” Gandhi continued, noting that preventive medicine is a large part of her practice.
Gandhi said five or six years ago most of the conventional healthcare community was resistant to alternative wellness approaches, but she finds that’s less true now. “More patients are asking about these approaches and more doctors are looking at things other than prescription medicine that might have value for the patient. In the future, you’re likely to see a lot more clinics like Revive Atlanta, MD.”