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What Is Integrative Medicine

An increasing percentage of the population is consulting complementary medicine practitioners. Why is this trend happening? Patients are often unsatisfied with what they perceive as a focus on using pharmaceuticals to treat or suppress a specific disease rather than helping them become and remain healthy. Physicians have become so specialized that their traditional role of comprehensive caregiver who focuses on healing and wellness has been neglected. In response to this growing patient dissatisfaction, many university medical centers are developing a new subspecialty of medicine.

Integrative Medicine, which is also called integrated health, combines alternative medicine with evidence-based medicine. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), one of the divisions of the National Institutes of Health, states that there is “emerging evidence that some of the perceived benefits of this approach are real or meaningful.” The practice treats the “whole person,” focuses on wellness and health rather than on treating disease, and emphasizes the patient-physician relationship. All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body. The patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.

Dr. Steve Bittorf is the founder of Green Bay Integrative Health (GBIH), located at 926 Willard Drive, Suite 236 in the Green Bay area that offers wellness and integrative medicine services for individuals.

In 1994 Dr. Steve obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry and an M.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Medical School, and he subsequently trained at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where he completed internal medicine residency and fellowships in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Dr. Bittorf began practicing integrative medicine in 2008=, and 2014 he established his practice in Green Bay, Wisconsin The mission at GBIH is to practice integrative medicine and adhere to the highest standard of care. We form collaborative relationships with our patients and combine both traditional and alternative treatment approaches in order to promote wellness. We believe that good medicine is based in good science, inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms. Conventional and alternative effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible, and the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.

Patients interested in integrative medicine may call the clinic (920) 489-8349 or visit  for more information or to schedule appointments.

Natural versus Synthetic Hormone Therapy

The usual aging process leads to slow decline in the levels of estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in both men and women. The decline in hormone levels begins during middle age and slowly progresses long before symptoms occur. Women often experience premenopausal or postmenopausal symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, fatigue, mental fog, memory problems, insomnia, headaches, decreased libido, breast tenderness, or skin and vaginal atrophy which may affect sexual activity. For men symptoms related to low testosterone are evidenced by reduced muscle strength, irritability, mental fog, reduced concentration or erectile dysfunction. Both men and women who have hormone replacement therapy experience relief of these symptoms and receive other benefits such as increased bone strength, decreased cholesterol, cardiovascular protection, increased muscle strength, and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Controversy regarding synthetically manufactured hormones is based on the known and possible negative consequences of long term use. When significant health safety concerns arose in 2002 for women using synthetic hormone replacement, millions stopped taking it according to one survey.1 Patients and physicians alike began to search for alternatives. Fortunately, several forms of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy exist and follow in a long line of drugs derived from natural plant sources. According to a Vanderbilt review, for thousands of years we’ve turned to plants for relief from disease. Examples include morphine derived from opium poppies, aspirin from willow bark, and hormones (estrogen and testosterone) from soy and yams. Thus, bio-identical hormones provide a safe and effective alternative to proprietary, synthetic hormones.

The wide assortment of available bio-identical hormone treatments often leads to confusing and complicated situations for consumers who are interested in pursuing this therapy. Bio-identical hormone preparations include creams, oral forms, injections, and hormone pellets. These approaches have differing effectiveness, side effects, absorption and metabolism depending on each preparation and route of administration. For more information contact us at

How Much Fish Oil Do I Need for Maximum Benefit?


Many consumers may not obtain maximum possible benefits when taking fish oil supplements. Often consumers are unsure of the proper daily dose to take. Recommended daily intake varies from 1-12 g based on the goals of therapy and ailments treated, from severe inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis to fatty liver disease or hypertriglyceridemia to simple cardiovascular disease prevention. Sometimes treatment failures occur because OTC supplements have quality control problems.

Supplements of all types fall under the supervision of the FTC which only monitors advertising claims, whereas pharmaceuticals are regulated by the FDA which has stringent standards and requirements for purity and concentration. Mail order companies and box retail chains rely on low cost suppliers outside the US; many well-described issues exist in the supply chain, such that the New York state attorney general recently initiated an investigation into the matter. To obtain the best results it pays to consult an integrative medicine practitioner and use only the highest quality supplements.

Have questions about heart health? Contact Dr. Steve at

Patients interested in integrative medicine consultation may call Green Bay Integrative Health at (920) 489-8349. The clinic address is 926 Willard Drive, Suite 236, Green Bay, WI, 54304.

Is Prescription Lovaza Superior to OTC Fish Oil Supplements?


Glaxo Smith Klein, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, sells Lovaza which is an omega 3 fatty acid derivative medication approved by the FDA in 2004 for treatment of high serum triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides form one the most common problems in lipid metabolism and an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Hypertriglyceridemia also causes abnormal liver function and dysfunctional lipid function; specifically, fatty liver disease and reduced effectiveness of high density lipoproteins (HDL), the “heart-protective” lipoproteins. GSK synthesized Lovaza in order to tap into the rapidly growing market related to increased consumption of fish oil supplements.

Each Lovaza capsule contains 900 mg of omega 3 fatty acid derivatives, primarily as synthetic ester forms of EPA and DHA, the natural, free fatty acids which constitute the active ingredients in over-the-counter (OTC) fish oil supplements.

Lovaza is not chemically identical to fish oil, and esterification involves further steps during manufacturing; this extra processing and the fact that Lovaza requires a prescription account for its high cost ($300 per month), which in turn discourages coverage by insurance companies.

Both esterified and free omega 3 fatty acids absorb freely from the gut and pass through the liver, where Lovaza is de-esterified to EPA and DHA; thus, it logically appears that no physical or absorption benefit would correlate with adding the esterification step. Pharmaceutical corporations often “medicalize” beneficial natural substances by chemical modification in order to obtain exclusive selling rights and maximize profits.

Does Lovaza have proven, superior medical results with respect to OTC fish oil supplements? In my opinion the answer to this question remains unclear (see links below), but significant differences seem unlikely.

A substantial body of evidence supports the use of fish oils to reduce systemic inflammation, total cholesterol and triglycerides; improve lipid metabolism; prevent fatty liver disease; and maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. For these reasons Glaxo Smith Klein synthesized Lovaza, and financed studies that compared tolerance and side effects of ethyl ester fatty acids to placebo. The pharmaceutical giant relied on the established research associated with EPA and DHA to impute clinical benefits in order to obtain FDA approval. No studies evidenced any differences in the clinical effects of synthetic omega 3 esters and fish oil supplements.

Have questions about heart health? Contact Dr. Steve at

Do I Need Lucia Light Therapy?


The Lucia N°03 offers the benefits of a very deep mediation, through accessing an expanded state of consciousness almost immediately. The light stimulates temporary harmonic brain wave patterns in the brain usually only found in the brains of people who have been meditating for decades. The light helps the user access the Theta state as well as high Alpha patterns, often associated with joy, intuition, creativity and high concentration.

With a series of regular sessions on the light (a series of at least 5 is recommended for optimum benefits) you can literally train your brain to reach this optimal state at will. Even after one session it is easier to drop into a state of deep meditation as your brain knows where it’s going!

Reported benefits include:
Reduced anxiety and stress
Reduced fear and depression
Sense of wholeness/oneness
Increase sense of inner peace and emotional stability
Increase creativity
Increase intuition
Improved physical healing
More restful sleep
Release of beneficial hormones related to health and longevity
Access to Astral travels and inner journeying


Why Can’t I Lose Weight?



Optimizing testosterone levels improves body composition by reducing fat mass and increasing lean body mass for both men and women. Testosterone also helps to stabilize blood glucose and insulin levels making weight loss easier.

Just as low testosterone can make weight loss more difficult, an underactive (hypothyroid) or suboptimal thyroid can also lead to weight gain and the inability to lose weight. The thyroid gland is hugely responsible for our metabolism.

Are you struggling with unwanted pounds? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Schedule your appointment online at  right now.

Speak with Dr. Steve today about having your hormones tested and getting on a custom, healthy-aging plan, exercise regime or get tested for food sensitivities.

Not only will you fit into those skinny jeans, you will have more energy and enjoy the benefits of disease prevention and a healthier lifestyle!

Am I Getting Enough Vitamin D?


There is an ongoing and little-reported controversy concerning the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D. A report issued in 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine proposed an RDA of 600 to 800 IU for all individuals from birth to adulthood with upper limits of 1,500 to 4000 IU/day based on age.

This report naturally carries a lot of weight for health care practitioners. However, researchers at UC San Diego and Creighton University (and many others) have challenged the official RDA, stating publicly that it underestimates the optimal requirements by a factor of ten. This embarrassing dispute centers on statistical and calculation errors which have been widely documented and criticized by the scientific community.

In March 2015 two experts, Drs. Cedric Garland at UC San Diego and Paul Veuglers from the University of Alberta, posted an open letter in the journal Nutrients; they called on the Institute of Medicine to change its RDA for vitamin D to 7000 IU/day and noted that the same Institute specifies an upper limit of 10,000 IU/day as safe for teens and adults.

How might increasing the RDA for vitamin D affect our health? What are the consequences of taking too much vitamin D? Should I get my blood levels tested and how much should I take?

Dr. Steve provides a complete suite of integrative health services, including vitamin testing and supplementation. Visit  for more information.

Lifestyle Changes: The Best Medicine Your Doctor Is Not Using

A 3-part series examining why traditional medicine has failed to promote lifestyle changes as a pathway to preventing disease and mortality. Based on a News & Perspective article published on April 22, 2015, in Medscape Internal Medicine by Christopher Labos, MD CM, MSc. Research Fellow, Division of Cardiology, McGill University Faculty of Medicine; Staff Physician, Groupe Médical Jean-Talon, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Part I – Lifestyle Modifications Are Effective

From ancient times physicians touted the benefit of healthy lifestyles. The Greeks wrote that “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Multiple studies in recent times suggested that successful modification of four lifestyle interventions resulted in nearly 80% reduction in risk for all-cause mortality. The four important factors were regular exercise, healthy diet, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.  The INTERHEART study estimated that modifiable risk factors account for 90% of the population-attributable risk for heart disease in men and 94% of the risk in women.  According to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, “A very short list of lifestyle practices has a more massive influence on our medical destinies than anything else in all of medicine. There’s almost nothing in all of medicine that has the vast, consistent, and diverse evidence base.” He remarked that no pill or combination of pills can ever reduce the burden of chronic disease in the way that healthy lifestyle factors can.

If lifestyle practices have such great potential to reduce risks for disease and mortality, why don’t U.S. physicians use lifestyle modification as a primary care tool?

Stay tuned for part 2 – “The Medical Myth that Lifestyle Interventions Are Futile”

Contact Dr. Steve at with any questions.