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Integrative and Preventive Medicine: Focus on the Basics of Health

Dec 26, 2013 11:29AM ● By Carrie Jackson

Katherine Lik Chavez

Before nagging aches turn into howling pain, there are things we know we need to do, but as these health problems arise we tend to look for a temporary cure or pill to make us feel better right away. Naturopathy, an integrative approach to medicine, is a practice concerned with listening to symptoms to prevent disease so we don’t need pharmaceuticals or surgery.

Katherine Lik Chavez is a doctor of naturopathic medicine, integrative oncology and homeopathy at the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University, in Chicago, and says if you are not caring for yourself properly, your body will force you to address the issue. “Sleeping eight hours a night, moving and using your body and muscles on a daily basis, eating regularly, eating more vegetables, drinking more water, taking deep breaths, doing things you enjoy—these are the things that are necessary for health and happiness,” she says.

As a naturopath, Chavez focuses on identifying patients’ needs by the symptomatic clues their body is sending. “We ignore aches and pains, digestive irregularities, fatigue, sleep disturbances or feelings of anxiety until our body starts shouting at us so loudly that we cannot ignore it any longer,” she states.

Integrative medicine combines conventional, or Western, medicine with diet and lifestyle adjustments, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal medicines, acupuncture, physical medicine, exercise medicine, energy medicine, meditation and other natural techniques. Preventive medicine teaches patients to know their genetic weaknesses, pay attention to their bodies, figure out what their systems need to function properly and eventually provide themself with these things. “Many, if not all, of the chronic diseases we currently suffer from as a population can be prevented or resolved through diet or lifestyle management,” explains Chavez. Many of her patients come in for help with weight management. “Being a healthy weight is incredibly important for preventing the development of almost every chronic disease, including cancer,” she says.

Chavez finds great value in helping people understand what is going on in their bodies so they are less fearful or less critical of themselves. “Patients come in and tell me how something I said to them during our appointment changed their perspective or approach to caring for themselves,” she says. “I like hearing how the improvements they made in their health filter down and influence their family and friends.”

She makes a point of following her own advice by taking time to relax and unwind. “I also like to exercise, or I should say, need to exercise,” she says. “It gets rid of my neck and shoulder tension and pain and relaxes my mind.”

To learn more about The Raby Institute, visit Contact Dr. Chavez at 312-276-1212 or [email protected]

Carrie Jackson takes time out for yoga and swimming, but is still working on that ice cream addiction. Visit her at

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