The Benefits of Mind-Body Medicine

“Mind-body medicine is one of the most underutilized tools in health care today, and can make a huge difference in a patient’s experience and ability to heal,” says Danna Park, MD.

Dr. Park should know. A graduate of the Residential Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, she is as well- rounded a physician as one could hope to find. She specializes in integrative medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, and is board-certified in all three specialties, having earned her integrative medicine certification through the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM).

As the director of Mountain Integrative Medicine, PLLC, in Asheville, NC, Dr. Park provides integrative medicine consultations for adults and children with a variety of conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and ADD/ADHD. She also works with people who are well and simply want to optimize their health.

In her practice, Dr. Park utilizes a number of mind-body modalities for patients and families, including guided imagery, HeartMath®, and clinical hypnosis. These tools can be very powerful when incorporated into medical care, she says, such as when a patient is undergoing cancer treatments, or when preparing for or recovering from surgery. “In addition to decreasing the PTSD-type symptoms that can accompany cancer diagnosis and treatment,” she explains, “these modalities also have demonstrable benefits in decreasing pain medication use and complications after surgery.”

But mind-body techniques are also powerful preventative medicine, Dr. Park points out. Because they affect the interface between the cardiac, nervous, immune, and endocrine systems, these techniques can decrease inflammation, improve cortical and executive function in the brain, and improve overall well-being. Some of the beneficial outcomes reported are improved quality of life, decreased symptoms, and improved blood sugar control in patients with chronic illness like asthma and diabetes.

D Park photo


Mind-body medicine tools can also be highly useful for providers’ self-care, Dr. Park says. With a career-long interest in the relationship between healthcare provider well-being and better patient care and outcomes, she frequently gives presentations and workshops for healthcare provider groups and organizations on practitioner resilience and self-care.

“Having practical easy-to-use tools to improve resilience and decrease the physiological effects of stress is so important for us as providers,” Dr. Park says. “Techniques that are heart-based are particularly beneficial because they work so quickly. We don’t have to wait until our next day off or for vacation next month – we can decrease the physiological and psychological effects of stress right away. And studies show that these kinds of interventions improve patient care as well, which is a win-win for everyone.”

If you would like information about healthcare provider resilience workshops or well-being initiatives for your practice or organization, contact Dr. Park at or 828-333-3339.

HeartMath is a registered trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc.

First published AAPS 11/2019

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Watch Those Labels!

The experience of buying supplements in a health food store can be daunting!  Multiple companies sell similar or identical vitamins, herbs and other supplements, and choosing one can seem like a Herculean task if you don’t come armed with some specific information.  When I prescribe or recommend supplements, I give patients very detailed information on exactly what to buy, often including a few specific brand names that provide the quality and dose I recommend but are more flexible in price.


Labeling requirements for companies that make vitamins, herbs and supplements are regulated by the U.S. government, in the form of the Dietary Supplements and Health Education (DSHEA) Act of 1994, and overseen by the FDA.  Companies are not allowed to make explicit claims about how the contents in the bottle may play a role in preventing or treating a medical condition.  They can, however, put information on a bottle about the function of a product in the body (ie: “helps maintain healthy intestinal flora”) or how it may affect the structure of the body (“assists in lubricating joints”).  These are called “structure/function claims”.  The Federal Drug Administration is responsible for stepping in and enforcing the DSHEA rules if a company strays from the requirements.


Despite these rules, what is advertised on the front of the label may not necessarily be the whole truth for what is truly in the bottle.  I was reminded of this the other day when looking at a calcium supplement bottle brought in by a patient.  The front of the label advertised this as a calcium/magnesium supplement; the Supplement Facts label on the back told a different story!  Included in the product were turmeric, ginger, horsetail, spirulina and willow bark.  While these unexpected additions may be fine for some people, they could potentially increase the possibility of bleeding risk in other patients on certain medications.  Of note, there was no warning on the bottle for consumers about potential herb/drug/supplement interaction risks.


While the DSHEA rule protects our very important freedom to obtain herbs, vitamins and supplements “over the counter” and without a doctor’s prescription, it also heightens the responsibility of the consumer to make sure what they decide to buy/take is both safe and appropriate for their individual medical condition(s) and needs.  Just because something is “natural” does not mean it is safe or won’t interact with medications. In my practice, I check for both supplement/herb/vitamin and drug interactions as well as have detailed knowledge and information about potential interactions with medical conditions.  Always “play it safe” and check with your healthcare professional and/or pharmacist before starting any type of supplements.

Danna Park, MD

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