Integrative Medicine

Looking for effective treatment options to complement the conventional care you’re already receiving? Integrative medicine uses a holistic approach to help you restore your health and improve your well-being. This service is available in Duluth, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota.

What’s Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine pairs conventional medicine with other evidence-based natural treatments. We care for the whole you—mind, body, and spirit.

Our integrative medicine physicians have training in both conventional and integrative health care. They can prescribe medications as needed and often recommend lifestyle solutions—such as diet changes and supplements—to prevent disease or treat your condition.

Medical Insight: Integrative Medicine - Essentia Health Video Transcript

SPEAKER: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly health care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Maureen Talarico. MAUREEN TALARICO: Today on Medical Insight, integrative medicine physician Dr. Nancy Sudak talks about the growing field of holistic medicine, also known as integrative health. DR. NANCY SUDAK:

Integrative medicine physician. She sits in an examining room and wears a stethoscope around her neck

Integrative health is a practice style that emphasizes the relationship between the practitioner and the patient as a partnership, focuses on the whole person, body, mind, emotions and spirit, makes use of scientific evidence, and uses an array of therapeutic strategies and health care professionals to optimize health in a way that can be tailored to the unique healing needs and preferences of the individual. MAUREEN TALARICO: According to Dr. Sudak, the main focus of integrative medicine is personal lifestyle changes. DR. NANCY SUDAK: Anyone in any state of health at any age is a good candidate for integrative health provided that they feel a connection to the whole person approach, and they are willing to commit to making lifestyle changes.

People walk along a boardwalk

And because lifestyle is the most important determinant of our health, patients need to be aware that our recommendations will include changes in how they eat, how they sleep, how they manage their stress, and how they exercise. MAUREEN TALARICO: Not only are integrative health consults held in a calming environment, but there is continuous collaboration between integrative medicine and your care team to develop a comprehensive personalized plan. DR. NANCY SUDAK: In addition to myself, we have another integrative physician, an integrative nurse practitioner, two licensed acupuncturists, and an integrative registered dietician. MAUREEN TALARICO: The team offers therapies such as dietary modification, aromatherapy, exercise and more. Integrative medicine consults are covered by most insurance companies and no referral is needed. For Medical Insight, I'm Maureen Talarico. SPEAKER: To learn more about this topic, call our experts at 768-3107.

Text, Medical Insight, 218-786-3107. EssentiaHealth dot org

When to See an Integrative Physician

No matter your condition, integrative medicine can help you get back to better health. Even if you don't have a clear diagnosis, we can still work with you to meet your health goals. We often see patients looking to:

  • Get help for stress, depression, anxiety or insomnia
  • Find relief from chronic pain and conditions, such as headaches and arthritis
  • Improve digestive issues
  • Relieve menopausal symptoms and PMS
  • Better manage auto-immune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
  • Determine the cause of chronic symptoms that don’t fit a particular diagnosis

Medical Insight: Whole Health Integration Video Transcript

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight. A woman sits in a waiting room, looking at her cell phone.

TRACY BRIGGS: In today's health care system, you can start to feel like a number instead of a person, but that's not the case at Essentia Health.

A female doctor wearing a white lab coat uses a stethoscope to check the heartbeat of an older male patient.

One way essential provides customized care is through integrative medicine which treats the whole person for better overall health.

A group of three females do yoga in an all-white room. A male lies face down while getting his neck and upper back massaged. Dr. Kate Kessler.

DR. KATE KESSLER: Integrative health physicians and providers focus on whole person strategies to really optimize their patients overall health. So we're looking at a lot of different things that go into overall health, so diet, exercise, mental health, emotional health, and environmental factors.

Various fruits and vegetables. A group of three females sitting cross-legged in a room with large windows while meditating.

TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Kate Kessler is an integrative medicine specialist at Essentia Health in Fargo.

A patient lies face down while getting an acupuncture needle put in their lower back.

A trained family medicine physician, she incorporates less traditional methods to improve patients overall health, which can benefit anyone, especially those looking to decrease their number of medications.

A daily pill sorter full of medications of various size and color.

DR. KATE KESSLER: One of the things that lead to the most in terms of especially my type of offense visits, we're really focusing on lifestyle changes that are going to benefit health. TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Kessler says your first visit with an integrative medicine provider will be more in-depth and longer than a standard clinic appointment. DR. KATE KESSLER: It's beneficial for patients, because we are allowed to spend a lot more time with the patient really getting to know them, trying to understand what their health goals are, what's important to them, and coming up with an individualized treatment approach.

A female doctor in a white lab coat is shown inaudibly explaining something to an elderly female patient using a tablet device

TRACY BRIGGS: While fairly new integrative medicine isn't alternative medicine. DR. KATE KESSLER: I guess I think of it as the best of both worlds.

A female lays on her back while a massage therapist rubs circles on her temples. Sun pours in the room from a window, and candles are lit in the background.

I'm trained conventionally but also have experience in more holistic approaches. So we use evidence to make our treatment plans, and so we're not recommending things that are unsafe for a patient or haven't been shown to be beneficial in studies.

Tracy Briggs, Essentia Health Medical Insight Host.

TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Kessler says most insurance will cover integrative medicine visits. You don't need a referral. So just call and make an appointment if you're ready to treat your body, mind, and spirit. With this Essentia Health Medical Insight, I'm Tracy Briggs.

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight.

Your First Consultation

Our integrative medicine providers will meet with you and gather information about your physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as your relationships and home and work environment. We look at all areas of your life in order to understand the root cause of your condition; and with this full picture in mind, we walk you through the options you can use to reach your health goals.

Customized Care Plan

Your provider will explain all your treatment options and work with you to create a customized care plan. Depending on your condition, your care plan may include:

Mind-Body Therapies

Your integrative medicine provider will explain how mind-body therapies can be safely and effectively incorporated in your care plan.


Breathing in the scent of essential oils from plants can help you relax and balance your mind, body, and spirit. The recommended aroma depends on your preferences and health condition.


Meditation can help you relax, feel more peaceful, and clear your mind. It may help reduce blood pressure, as well as improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Your practitioner can guide you through meditation and teach you tools and techniques to meditate on your own.


Through gentle exercise and breath control, yoga can help you relax and connect with your body. Certain styles or poses may also help reduce lower back pain, manage blood pressure and heart rate, and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Your provider may recommend yoga resources within the community.


Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Your acupuncturist places very thin needles through your skin at specific points on the body. The needles usually remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. The treatments don’t typically hurt. Acupuncture may be used to:

  • Reduce nausea and vomiting after cancer treatment
  • Relieve pain or discomfort
  • Help regulate blood flow
  • Treat chronic conditions like fatigue and menstrual problems

Medical Nutrition Therapy

A registered dietician offers Medical Nutrition Therapy for a variety of conditions, including weight issues, diabetes, digestive disturbances, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammatory conditions. A visit with our registered dietician will also include learning ways to manage stress and improve physical exercise.

Will Insurance Cover Integrative Medicine?

Many insurance plans cover integrative medicine services. Contact your insurance company to see what your plan covers. Some services, such as acupuncture and visits with our registered dietician, are not covered by all insurance plans for all conditions.  Physician visits are typically covered by most insurance plans.

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