Dr. Elizabeth McLain has some revolutionary ideas about health. The family and internal medicine doc with Lafayette General’s physician group — Lafayette General Medical Doctors or LGMD — is the first in Acadiana to earn the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine’s certification in integrative holistic medicine. Simply put, it’s whole person medicine.
“Body, spirit and mind. It’s not just why they are here in my offi ce. It’s about everything else,” McLain says.
McLain has always approached medicine in her own way, asking questions from what people eat for breakfast to the state of their marriage and their careers.
“I thought I was the only person that thought like that,” she says of facing ailments with lifestyle and nutrition-aimed efforts.
While McLain may be the first to receive the certification, she is certainly not alone. A movement toward holistic medicine approaches has been blossoming in popular culture, and McLain has a busy practice — with her patients seeing extraordinary results.
She makes efforts to support the basic systems of the body to help people get better without drugs.
“We use nutrition and supplements and lifestyle changes and spiritual direction and counseling if you need [it],” McLain says.
There are pockets of modern medicine that look at such efforts with much skepticism, but as McLain explains the approach it sounds almost old fashioned in some ways — kind of common sense.
“People are starting to open their eyes. They are in the dark about what’s in your food and why they are sick. Patients come to me after they’ve done everything else,” she says.
What she provides is the information and support and direction. What she doesn’t do is hand over a pill and send patients out the door.
“I’m like Dr. Phil and a cheerleader and a coach and I wear many hats,” she says. “I’m an encourager of change.”
What change you may ask? You’ll have to ask McLain about what works for you. But she is willing to make a few broad statements about improving health for nearly every person.
She begins with our body fuel — food.
“Ninety percent of corn, soy, rice and wheat are GMO," she says.
For the uninitiated, GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms (often left unlabeled in the U.S.) created to ensure crops can be doused in pesticides and never die. GMOs are endocrine disruptors, which lead to a host of issues. The current methods of farming often leave soil missing the minerals once plentiful creating a chain effect on the food supply.
“So our bodies are deficient and children are starting their periods when they are 9 ... we are kind of depleted,” McLain says.
The first step is eating clean, which starts with choosing real food. Avoid food out of a box, can or package — “not eating plastic and trash and GMOs and animals that have been treated badly,” she says.
McLain looks for the why of her patients and uses medicine most often on a temporary basis and food as a foundation for change.
“I do have to use prescriptions, but the goal is a short time and then to get off if you can,” she says.
She expects participation wholeheartedly and when you talk to her, the passion is clear. She’s kind but she’s not playing around: “They have to participate. It’s not just taking medicine. I’ll help you and encourage you ... but they have to participate and some don’t want to do that.”
She says it all begins with the building blocks of the body. She provides the example of someone taking dozens of meds with a host of health issues from pancreatitis and diabetes to high blood pressure. After digging, she learned chemical exposure was to blame.
“We worked on fixing his own body’s immune system. Whatever has been knocked out has been an enzyme and we can help systems work that are broken. It’s the knowledge. Something besides a list of 30 drugs,” she says.
Instead of seeking out a web of pharmaceutical solutions, McLain looks at a place many may not realize holds many of the keys to good health — the gut.
“Seventy percent of the immune system is in your gut,” McLain says.
She says everyone can benefit from a good probiotic and a good food-based vitamin, and by moving toward organic foods as much as possible with grass fed and free-range meats.
McLain herself has a garden now, but can been seen often at the local farmer’s markets snagging fresh produce for the week.
“There is a certain population of people who want this. And there are some people who never will and it’s too much trouble,” McLain says. “But there is a population of people seeking health and I’m glad to have them ... the coolest thing is to see my patients at the farmer’s market.”