Western and Eastern medicine meet at new clinic

Dr. Angeli Akey, a primary care physician, is the founding director of North Florida Integrative Medicine.

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Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.

Dr. Angeli Akey uses one word to describe her new integrative health clinic that fronts the eastern edge of San Felasco Preserve State Park off Northwest 43rd Street: balance.


Health fair set for Saturday

What: Community Open House and Integrative Medicine Health Fair
When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: 6228 NW 43rd St. in Gainesville

The clinic combines Eastern and Western approaches to medicine and uses a team approach to patient care that includes massage therapists, acupuncturists, psychologists and primary care physicians — all of whom are dedicated to the practice of integrative care.

On Saturday morning, the clinic, which opened its doors at the end of August, will hold an open house and free community health fair. Those who go can get chair massages, blood pressure and blood sugar readings, and learn about topics such as nutrition, fitness and sustainable fat loss, and biofeedback.

For Akey, who grew up in Gainesville and attended the University of Florida medical school and did her residency and fellowship at Yale University before returning to her hometown to practice at North Florida Regional Medical Center (where she is still affiliated), having her own clinic with so many specialties under one roof is "a dream come true," she said.

"It's like being given the fanciest car, with a bunch of bells and whistles. Every day is a thrill," she said.

Akey said the clinic aims to provide the best of cutting-edge Western medicine with healing therapies from the East. Ultimately patients should be offered options that have low toxicity and cost and are most effective, she continued.

Treating a patient's migraine headaches, for example, might involve a comprehensive look at the patient's diet, exercise habits and emotional life, and treatments could involve acupuncture or massage therapy instead of or in addition to medications.

The clinic's psychologist, Randall Sherwood, said the clinic's integrative approach will allow it, for example, "to look at how stress, anxiety and depression contribute to physical health and how as a team we can work to reduce them."

The team approach guides patients with all types of maladies in a similar way to what cancer patients typically receive, Akey added.

"I tell my patients that if we do our jobs right, they should only see us once a year for their annual physical," she said.

Akey said the clinic currently has about 4,200 patients, and she anticipates that number to rise to 8,000 over the next few years. Over the next few months, the clinic also will be offering direct primary care, a feature of the Affordable Care Act in which primary care is provided directly to consumers without insurance company intervention.

Akey is internationally renowned for her work on hormones, progesterone in particular. Akey said that she's treated many women who came to her after having taken psychiatric drugs, and being labeled with mental illness, when the root of the problem she diagnosed was a natural one related to hormonal changes.

"Progesterone drops in women over the age of 35. This can give them terrible mood swings two weeks before their menstrual cycle," she said. "All they need is progesterone."

Akey added that she has also seen men who are getting testosterone shots but refuse to slow down: their lifestyle and type-A personalities often contradict the effect of the hormone injections. "You have to do the whole symphony," she said, referring to the book she authored, "Fine Tune Your Hormone Symphony: A patient's guide to understanding hormones and making beautiful music again."

Akey dedicated the clinic to her mother, Dr. Alicia Maun, a longtime UF physician who retired last year.

"She was integrative before there was a word for it — mind, body and spirit!" Akey said.

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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