Dr. Christopher Smith Offers Advice on Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies like herbs, supplements, acupuncture and meditation can help a variety of health conditions. There is growing scientific evidence on the importance of traditional/alternative therapies and their role in modern medicine, UCF Health’s new integrated medicine specialist told a community gathering June 17.

Dr. Christopher Smith, a board-certified family medicine specialist who completed a two-year fellowship in integrative medicine under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil, recently joined UCF Health, the College of Medicine physician practice. He presented an overview of how traditional therapies, considered “alternative” therapies in modern society, can promote good health and well-being. His recent talk was held at UCF Health’s second location in Medical City to almost 100 participants.

Research shows that 80 to 90 percent of Americans use some form of alternative medicine to treat their health conditions, he said, but few patient’s if any tell their physicians. He supports the approach of ‘integrative medicine’ where alternative and complementary medicine have a duel role in conventional therapies. “I don’t take patients off their medicines unless they are getting better,” he said. “I’m not going to tell you to wear magnets around your neck and drink a gallon of pomegranate juice every day. My approach is to cherry-pick the best options based on scientific evidence and patient need.”

During his talk, he provided an example of a patient with recurrent migraine headaches. Dr. Smith’s approach would involve a pharmaceutical prescription in addition to recommending magnesium and riboflavin as a preventative measure, therefore reducing reliance on a pharmaceutical drug. Similarly, a diabetic patient would be given a prescription for medication but also get nutrition and supplement suggestions to help with control of blood glucose levels.

“I want to treat you, not the disease,” he said.

The Internet is filled with alternative medicine claims, he said, which can be false and even cause harm when taken with prescription drugs. He urged participants to use reliable scientific sources when researching alternative therapies, including the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine or ConsumerLabs.com

Dr. Smith provided perspective on a variety of topics: