Person jumping in the sunset
The "Live Longer, Live Better" program, which promotes wellness of the body, mind and spirit, is at the heart of the Samueli Center's effort to advance integrative medicine. Courtesy of Samueli Center

People seeking complementary and alternative methods of achieving wellness have myriad options — herbal remedies, dietary supplements, acupuncture, meditation and tai chi, to name a few. But determining which ones work can be tricky.

Dr. Wadie Najm, medical director at UC Irvine’s Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, has a solution: Why not try all of them?

With his colleague Dr. Bianca Garilli, Najm created a 12-week wellness program called “Live Longer, Live Better” that incorporates proven complementary and alternative approaches to treating body, mind and spirit.

This holistic course is at the heart of the Samueli Center’s effort to bridge modern Western medicine and other healthcare disciplines, such as traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy. The center’s research and vision are put into practice at its Newport Beach clinic.

“Live Longer, Live Better” consolidates what the clinic provides — acupuncture treatments, tai chi classes and naturopathic therapy – into a single, individualized program. Designed for those who struggle with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol counts and metabolic diseases like diabetes, it can also benefit people who are chronically stressed, are often fatigued or just don’t feel well.

After an initial consultation with Garilli, a naturopathic doctor, participants will embark on a medically supervised three-month regimen of dietary modifications, botanical medicine, acupuncture treatments, group tai chi classes, and/or guided imagery and meditation practice.

Participants will receive a personalized long-term wellness workbook and CDs to help them continue what they’ve learned. The CDs will offer a mix of guided imagery, meditation and breathing exercises, depending on the needs of each patient.

“Our therapeutic lifestyle program is sustainable for a lifetime,” Garilli says. “The goal is to instill healthy habits and practices that people can follow daily to improve their overall health and reduce the risk of future disease. We want to begin a process of change in order for the body to heal itself.”

Najm, a clinical professor of family medicine who specializes in geriatrics, believes interest in integrative medicine is growing because of its comprehensive approach to lifelong wellness.

“Integrative medicine takes the best of all healthcare modalities and applies them without distinction in a personalized manner,” he says. “This movement shows the importance of bringing balance to your life. Incorporating healthy actions for the body, mind and spirit on a day-to-day basis makes a positive difference.”