DUŠAN VEŠOVIĆ, Specialist in Occupational Medicine and Doctor of Integrative medicine – Our Goal is to Help Patients

Integrative approach in medicine does not cure illness, but it treats the body as a whole

After graduating cum laude from the University of Belgrade’s Medi-cal Faculty, Dušan Vešović started working at the Dr Dragomir Karajović Occupational Medicine and Radiological Protection Institute, at the Clinical Centre of Serbia in Belgrade. First, he was an assistant/intern and then an assistant in the Department of Occupational Medicine of the University of Belgrade’s Medical Faculty. He received the title of an occupational medicine specialist, a master of medical science and a doctor of medical science from the University of Belgrade’s Medical Faculty. After his doctorate, he worked as a researcher on a project related to diabetes mellitus at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition of the University of Illinois in Chicago, the USA. In addition to general and occupational medicine, Dr Vešović completed several quantum medicine courses, held by the Serbian Medical Society in Belgrade (in 2013). He also completed a specialization at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, thus obtaining the title of pharmacy specialist (in 2014). Dr Vešović is one of the pioneers of the integrative approach to patient treatment in Serbia.

Could you tell us what is integrative medicine?

— Integrative medicine was created by combining the best treatments and protocols that come from general, Western medicine, with the best complementary and alternative medicine methods. All these techniques are used with one single goal – to help the patients as much as possible. This combination of classical and alternative medicine was created in the late 20th century, in the United States. Namely, re-search has shown that one-third of patients who were put in therapy by classical medical practitioners also used therapy at the recommendation of complementary and alternative medicine experts. Practically speaking, the patients were seen by their physician practising classical medicine but they also supplemented this therapy with their own complementary and alternative medical treatments. By doing so, they unknowingly and unintentionally misled their physicians into thinking that the successful results of the therapy they had prescribed was purely due to the use of classical medical treatment, which was not exactly true. By recognizing that the combination of methods, proven in practice, leads to better results, there is an amalgamation of the knowledge from the classical medicine and the complementary and alternative medicine which resulted in a new direction in medicine being formed – integrative medicine. To date, only in the United States, many medical centres are operating under the auspices of universities where patients are provided with integrative medicine services. Also, the number of hospitals in which integrative medicine is practised has increased significantly.

What are the benefits of integrative medicine versus classical?

— By using integrative medical treatment, we are not only analyzing the physical problems and symptoms that the patient has, but also psychological factors, social and spiritual aspects, which are very important for improving the patient’s health and treatment of the disease. Some of the basic principles of the integrative treatment approach are: the doctor and the patient are “partners” in the process of treatment, the physician’s attention is directed at all factors that can affect health, the patient himself and not his illness are at the centre of the examination, and a holistic approach is applied. This all means that the body is treated as a whole, i.e. we are not treating an individual disease, that is, the illness of a particular organ, by using methods that are effective and not aggressive while each patient is prescribed a treatment that suits him as an individual.I don’t think that this treatment is utilized enough in our country and I think that people in Serbia find out about this treatment from the journalists who usually interview doctors that advocate such treatment and write educational articles about it. Also, they usually turn to the Internet to search for a more comprehensive and permanent solution to their health problems. For now, the integrative approach to the treatment of patients is currently only being studied at the postgraduate medical studies, and I believe that it should also be introduced during undergraduate studies, so that the youngest doc-tors, when they graduate, already have some knowledge of integrative medicine. In the EU, the situation is completely different. Eleven European integrative medicine congress-es were held under the auspices of the European Society of Integrative Medicine (based at the Charite University in Berlin). This coming September, the 12th congress will be held in Barcelona. I regularly participate in them, and I will have three presentations at this year’s event.

What prompted you to start practising integrative medicine?

I will try to answer this question with a practical example. In our everyday life, we all know a person or persons who complain about certain health problems. When this person is subjected to biochemical analyses and FBC (full blood count), it often happens that their results are good, or rather “within the limits of normal values”. In addition to these analyses, they often do an ECG and ultrasound examination of the stomach and small pelvis where neither ECG nor ultrasound scan detects pathological occurrences. Following diagnostics doctrine in classical medicine, this person cannot be diagnosed be-cause all the findings were normal. For this reason, this person can not be prescribed therapy. So, no diagnosis – no therapy. However, even though the diagnosis has not been established, person still feels the same health problems. These problems occur as a result of a disturbed balance in the body, at a discrete, cellular level, which is a consequence of biochemical and biophysical dis-orders. In such cases, the classic medical approach is to „monitor“ the patient over a certain period. This “monitoring” of a person’s health during a certain amount of time increases the likelihood of developing a pathological condition that will cause different lab and ultrasound results. If this occurs, a physician can diagnose the patient and prescribes the treatment of the diagnosed illness. Such cases, which are increasingly present in medical practice, have led me to think about what could be done for such patients to reduce or eliminate their problems, although all analyses came up with “regular“ results. So, I began to search for solutions in integrative medicine. An integrative principle entails treating the symptoms that a person has, regardless of the „normal“ lab results. This treatment of health problems and the body as a whole involves several activities, such as changing the diet and making it tailor-made to the individual patient, detoxification of the body, the use of personalized dietary supplements, going to sleep at the right time and reducing exposure to electromagnetic radiation from various sources. All this should be done under the supervision of a doctor of integrative medicine and with the patient’s complete trust and cooperation. Going back to the aforementioned „normal lab results“, I would like to add that these are usually the basic laboratory analyses and once you widen the analysis spectrum, the situation changes and in certain cases, huge deviations from normal val-ues are detected.

Is this type of medicine applicable to all patients, i.e. in all types of illness?

— An integrative approach to medical treatment is always recommended and effective because it accelerates the effects of standard therapy, which usually implies only the use of medication. There is no special condition or disease where an integrative approach is recommended, but it can be applied to all patients – both on healthy ones who want to stay healthy and unhealthy patients to expedite the healing process. I would like, once again, to underline that the integrative approach in medicine does not cure illness, but it treats the body as a whole. Through various techniques and elimination of bad habits, the body regains the state of equilibrium (the medical term for his is homeostasis), which was disrupted due to various factors which were present over a long period.

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