Medical psychology entails applying the science of psychology, which deals with mental and emotional disorders, with the practice of medicine to understand the physical as well as psychological manifestations of a disorder/illness. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines medical psychology as "that branch of psychology that integrates somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities into the management of mental illness and emotional, cognitive, behavioral and substance use disorders." Like traditional psychologists, medical psychologists utilize psychological theories and scientific research findings to provide an array of treatment techniques that may include: psychodynamic psychotherapy, behavior modification, cognitive restructuring, family therapy, social skills training and 'life-style' interventions, to improve the psychological and physical health of the patients.

   

     Specialty training during graduate school requires an emphasis on understanding the biological bases of behavior as well as the intricate and complex matrix of the mind. It teaches the student to meld psychological theories with central nervous system adaptations and lifestyle modification by applying a number of different interventions in different types of clinical settings.

        While I do not limit my practice to medical psychology, per se, prior to commencing psychotherapy, I issue a comprehensive series of questions to all patients. The initial assessment questionnaire addresses the complexity of factors that play a role in the dis-ease process, and is in keeping with my philosophy that treating the mind, body and spiritual aspect one's being, is paramount to maintaining overall health and wellbeing.

 

    The questionnaire includes background information about psychological stressors and symptoms, sexual problems, military service, as well as history of physical illnesses, diet, exercise and stress management regimens, vitamin supplement use and over-the-counter (OTC) meds, as well as prescription medication, with the goal of assessing all the areas of concern or factors that may be affecting current psychological problems. While this list may seem atypical and rather extensive for a psychology practice, studies have shown that patients tend to under-report problematic symptoms on initial intake questionnaires, and therefore may minimize or overlook critical issues that may impact diagnosis and treatment.

 

      In addition, many people would not consider vitamin or over-the-counter (OTC) supplementation as pertaining to emotional problems or mental health issues. However, research has shown that sometimes taking the very vitamins, minerals and supplements that have been publicized to aid in overall health and wellness, can also cause harmful interactions with prescription medication and other health conditions.

    In addition to keeping with the foundations of medical psychology, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates the efficacy of combining MEDICAL FOODS with prescription drugs. The term medical food, as defined in section 5(b) of the Orphan Drug Act (21 U.S.C. 360ee (b) (3)) is "a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation."

     Medical foods can be classified into the following categories: Nutritionally complete formulas; Nutritionally incomplete formulas; Formulas for metabolic disorders; and Oral rehydration products. Medical foods are used to treat allergic conditions, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal tract impairment, metabolic stress, chronic pain, and a host of other conditions. Specific examples of marketed medical foods and their claimed uses:

    Axona (caprylic triglyceride) – Alzheimer’s disease ("Axona homepage — Axona®: Fuel the Brain". About-axona.com. 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-08-30).

    Banatrol Plus (banana flakes/bimuno) – Diarrhea ("Banatrol Plus". Medtrition.com. Retrieved 2013-08-30).

    Deplin (l-methylfolate) – Depression ("Deplin® (L-methylfolate) | Official Site". Deplin.com. 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2013-08-30). 

    Fosteum (genistein aglycone/citrated zinc bisglycinate/cholecalciferol) – osteopenia and osteoporosis ("Fosteum PLUS - The Purity of Genistein with the Strength of Calcium". Fosteum.com. 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-08-30).

    Limbrel (flavocoxid) – Osteoarthritis ("Osteoarthritis Information - Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms". Limbrel. Retrieved 2013-08-30). 

    Metanx (L-methylfolate calcium/pyridoxal 5′-phosphate/methylcobalamin) – Diabetic neuropathy (https://www.metanx.com/about-diabetic-neuropathy)

    Theramine (l-arginine, 5-htp, histidine, l-glutamine) - Myalgia (http://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/pages/results.aspx?txtKeywords=theramine).

    It should be pointed out that medical foods aren’t drugs or dietary supplements. Furthermore, they are strictly monitored by the FDA; all claims of medicinal value must be based on recognized scientific principals and clinical data. Most importantly, medical foods should only be used under medical supervision.

    Although this caveat is made, the FDA website points out that medical foods can be purchased online through qualified pharmacies that adhere to quality control and rigid adherence to governmental standards. The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) http://www.nabp.net/programs/accreditation/vipps provides an updated list of resources. Should you chose to go this route, you are still highly encouraged to seek medical supervision before implementing any use of medical foods to your health regimen.

    

Dr. Michael Lara is one of several experts on the subject of medical foods, and specializes in the treatment of mood and memory disorders using strategies that combine diet and exercise with traditional pharmacologic approaches. He is a great resource to find out more about the application and use of medical foods in everyday life as well as medical regimens. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has a private practice of psychiatry and psychopharmacology in San Francisco California. His website www.DrMikeLara.com offers a lot of free information to the general public and he provides advanced training on this subject for a fee. You can also find helpful videos about medical food supplements and getting the most out of your diet and exercise routines https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCkN3-t7hk7YMzF74B5CSrw.

 

 If you are unsatisfied with your prescription medication, there may be alternatives for you. Likewise, if you want to continue your prescription medication but are looking to augment your therapy process with some of the above-mentioned holistic techniques (which are described in the dropdown menu of this website), feel free to schedule an appointment (954-779-2855) to explore your options. Rest assured, we will devise a treatment plan that makes the most sense for your needs and will confer with your medical doctor (or with your allied health professional) to insure the best possible treatment outcome for your individual situation.

 

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