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What is integrative health?

  • Integrative health focuses on the mind, body and spirit as a whole, and uses your body’s natural healing capacity.

    Integrative health recognizes the value of conventional medicine in treating illness as well as its limits in dealing with the complex needs of the whole person. Integrative health helps you take an active role in your health.

    It promotes health and the prevention of illness through education, coaching, self-care and wellness practices. In this section, you will find 18 integrative health and wellness therapies and approaches that can help address pain.

    Integrative health and wellness approaches

    See a list of all Penny George Institute services and classes.

    Integrative Consultation

    Based on the Penny George Institute® of Health and Healing principles of integrative medicine, consultations with a medical doctor, nurse practitioner or a nurse clinician will help you learn about integrative health therapies. Together, you can choose options for improving your health and wellness while talking about traditional treatment options.


    The goal is to encourage the movement of Qi (“life energy”) through the 14 channels inside your body. The belief is that the constant fl ow of Qi through these channels is essential for you to stay healthy. If this energy fl ow is blocked, your body cannot keep the balance needed to maintain healthy energy levels or deal with health and pain issues.


    Made from large amounts of raw plant materials, highly concentrated and high quality essential oils are distilled from flowers, herbs and trees. These are inhaled, put on your skin, added to bath water, or used as a compress or spray to promote relaxation and well being.

    Dropper and flowers


    Biofeedback uses special equipment to collect information or “feedback” about how your body responds to stress and pain. Sensors taped to your skin measure muscle activity, skin temperature, sweat activity, heart rate and breathing patterns. By learning how your body reacts to stress and pain, you can gain control over these reactions.

    Energy Healing (Reiki/Healing Touch)

    This therapy involves moving the healing energy through the hands of a practitioner into your body to restore your normal energy balance and health. Energy healing has been used to treat a variety of health problems and is often used along with other complementary and traditional medical treatments.

    Guided Imagery

    This gentle but powerful technique uses the body, emotions and senses to create pleasant or soothing images in the mind. These images can move you to a more relaxed state. This allows for a quicker and intense healing during which you will feel less stress and pain. Images can be as simple as a 10-second daydream.

    Health Coaching

    Integrative health and wellness coaching can help you make healthy lifestyle changes, identify personal barriers and ways to overcome them, and maintain positive changes long term. This approach involves a series of sessions with a coach in person or by phone that focus on stress management, motivation, physical activity and nutrition.

    Herbal Consultations/Therapy

    The earliest known form of medicine, herbal therapy is a healing process that uses parts of plants (seed, stem, flower, root, bark and leaf) for the relief of conditions, ailments or pain.


    Homeopathy comes from the Greek word “homoios,” meaning similar, and “pathos,” meaning disease. The basic premise is that “like cures like” and that a disease can be cured by small amounts of highly diluted substances that produce similar symptoms in healthy people. Diagnosis is made by a homeopath after he or she interviews you.

    Integrative Nursing

    When meeting with the nurse, you will learn about integrative approaches, self-care, and stress management. Together, you and the nurse determine which integrative approaches to include in your care plan based on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, and goals. Integrative nurses also help you manage your symptoms.

    Integrative Nutrition

    Based on the strong relationship between nutrients and how your body works, integrative nutrition can help your body restore health, prevent illness and recover from disease. The nutritionist looks for causes of disease and how to overcome them with healthful foods.

    Massage Therapy

    A therapist massages your skin and underlying muscles to promote health, healing and relaxation. Massage can soften stiff muscles and improve muscle tone. It can reduce pain and muscle tension, lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve circulation and your immune response, and increase your body’s “feel good” chemicals.


    Meditation can improve your health by keeping your mind focused on the present so it will not worry about the past or future. Worrying can cause chronic (long-term) mental stress. There are many forms of meditation. Most are easy to learn, including concentration and mindfulness. Sessions last about 15 to 20 minutes and are done morning and night.

    Music Therapy

    Led by a board-certified music therapist, you can use music to reduce anxiety, stress and pain. You can be an active participant by singing, listening, playing instruments and writing music. This therapy is especially helpful for mental health, developmental and learning disabilities, brain injuries, aging-related conditions and neurological disorders.

    Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    This technique involves relaxing your muscles from the top of your head to your toes. Many people don’t know where or how their body holds on to tension or stress. Understanding where you store stress in your body allows you to focus on those areas and relax them.


    Reflexology is based on the concept that there are reflex maps in each foot and hand that correspond to all body parts and organs. A reflexologist applies pressure to these areas to cause changes in your body. These changes can improve blood, strengthen your immune system, decrease pain, and balance physical and emotional symptoms.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine

    When you are healthy, there is a smooth flow of energy through your body. An interruption or blockage of energy flow can result in pain, fatigue, nausea, tight muscles, cramps, irritability, depression, frustration or stress. Ongoing imbalance can eventually cause disease. Techniques like acupuncture can release energy blockage, and restore balance.


    Yoga combines movement, breathing and meditation exercises to enhance your natural ability to heal and to help maintain wellness. Yoga helps ease muscle tension, improve circulation, assist with balance, and calm the mind.

    The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing Innovative and Integrative Health Care

    The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing provides integrative health and complementary services and approaches in hospital and clinical settings.

    The Penny George Institute was founded in 2003 by the George Family Foundation and the Ted and Roberta Mann Foundation. The Penny George Institute offers integrative health approaches that blend the best conventional medicine with complementary healing therapies that embrace the strengths of the whole person in body, mind and spirit. The Penny George Institute has grown to serve thousands of people through therapies, services, education and innovative clinical research.

    The Penny George Institute offers services to help with plain management in one of our community clinics and for hospitalized patients at Abbott Northwestern and Unity Hospitals. To learn more or schedule an appointment for an integrative health service, contact 612-863-3333.

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