What is Integrative Medicine and Integrative Rheumatology?

Following my fellowship at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AZCIM), the premier global training program in the newly branded subspecialty of Internal Medicine with its own board certification through American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM,) the urgency of adding this essential whole person approach to our rheumatology approach became essential and clear to me. Simply stated and following the definition the AZCIM, “integrative medicine is the application of both evidence based principles and all appropriate approaches to treat the whole person relying on the therapeutic relationship between patient and healer and encompassing the mind, body and spirit approach to health” (\)

My definition as the first Jones-Lowell Rheumatology Scholar recipient at the AZCIM and first formal rheumatologist trained there, is the application of said principles stated above, rigorously applied to the inflammatory rheumatic patient irrespective of disease entity or treatment paradigm with the focus on improving and optimizing that patient’s individual journey in their healing path.
The Oasis Institute, AARA and Bendcare
To this end, The Oasis Institute ( has been charged with creating the competence for the AARA physician, by way of education, vetting appropriate modalities and disciplines, implementation and partnering with both AARA and Bendcare (, in optimizing the rheumatic patient journey and enhancing the value based proposition in areas the current system has fallen short. All healthcare stakeholders now demand or need this approach. During the past 18months as I have had the opportunity and privilege to meet rheumatologists across our nation while lecturing on The Patient Journey in the Bendcare Educational Summits, physicians have repeatedly come up to me and said they feel lacking in knowledge in these areas of nutrition, lifestyle, etc and that their patients are demanding more information and guidance from them, the treating rheumatologist. Obviously, these areas were not taught in medical school, residency, or fellowship trainings in the past but are beginning to be in some programs now.

The Oasis Institute Professional Education tract in the areas of nutrition, supplements, mind-body medicine, exercise, whole body systems (TCM, Ayurveda, Homeopathy) and energy medicine concepts all appropriate for the rheumatology patient will be provided to the AARA physician in the future utilizing evidence based approaches. By way of support and implementation now, the AARA designated nutraceutical product line called Oasis Health, designed for and dedicated to the complex inflammatory rheumatic patient, has been created and vetted for evidence based formulations, outstanding purity in sourcing of raw materials, chain of custody confirmation, and licensed packaging for our consumer arthritis patient, and finally for convenience and ease of implementation by the AARA offices.

This is another example of the collaborative win-win situation of consumer driven demand that AARA will lead in collaboration with The Oasis Institute and Bendcare. This activity will provide a disruptive, needed and branded approach for this essential consumer driven demand where physician supervision through a trusted source of high quality nutraceuticals is interfaced with the AARA physician work flow and leveraging our technology superiority in the marketplace.

As an AARA physician I take pride in enhancing my own patients experience by providing them with the services listed above in addition to the most appropriate conventional therapies including biologics, DMARDs, oral small molecules and injectable complex meds for all their rheumatic needs, blending them with an appropriate evidence based rationale that in some instances helps reduce side effects, improves patient satisfaction many times and in some cases reduces the complexity of the medical regimen.

ENROLL Program
Finally, the interface of Oasis Health product line and the educational opportunities through The Oasis Institute will both segue well with our AARA RESEARCH also being launched, called ENROLL, and headed by Dr Jeffrey Alper. This opportunity will help AARA assess individual natural products in future research settings answering questions in a more detailed ways leveraging our varied rheumatic population amongst our growing national network.

If any AARA physician is interested in becoming part of the Oasis concept, in trainings, education and implementation, and in supporting this exciting movement within AARA, please don’t hesitate to contact me and get involved.

Dr. George Munoz

Enhancing the value proposition and the patient journey through integrative rheumatology