Borja helping patients get best of both worlds through Integrative Medicine Clinic


JOHNSON CITY (November 13, 2014) – When it comes to defining integrative medicine, Dr. Anton Borja likes to describe it as getting the best of both worlds.

“Integrative medicine is a new way of looking at an old form of medicine,” explained Borja, director of the Integrative Medicine Clinic in East Tennessee State University’s Department of Family Medicine. “It is patient centered, focuses on the whole patient and incorporates evidence-based therapies – both old and new.”

Combining eastern medicine like acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation and other natural remedies with western medicine practices more commonly seen in the region, Borja said, allows a physician to better treat the whole person rather than focusing just on a specific ailment.

“Western medicine is really good at looking at the body separately, in parts, like looking at one tree in a forest. We can break down the tree, look at the leaves and focus on what is wrong with the tree. But if we run tests and they come back telling us there’s nothing wrong, we may not be able to do anything for the patient,” he explained. “Eastern medicine on the other hand takes a macro approach, focusing on health, lifestyle and the interaction of the mind and the body. It allows us to look at the whole forest, the whole picture, the whole patient.

“Illness brings about so many different components. It could be an imbalance of one aspect of a person’s life, but frequently it is a combination of things that add up to why this person is sick. This includes lifestyle, stress, mental health, exercise, diet and social factors. Integrative medicine takes all of these into account.”

Borja originally trained in Traditional Chinese medicine and maintained a practice in it for years in California. He later completed his medical degree at A.T Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, medical training at Lutheran Family Health Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., internship at Columbia University/NY Presbyterian and his family medicine residency at ETSU.

He began an acupuncture clinic at the Family Medicine clinic in Johnson City last year and then stayed at ETSU as a faculty member in an effort to push for further use and availability of integrative medicine at the facility.

“Now, the Integrative Medicine Clinic is thriving. There’s a demand for it. It really is the best way to practice medicine,” Borja said. “I try to incorporate my training in both aspects of medicine to come up with a treatment plan that will most benefit my patient.”

For some patients, the solution might be acupuncture, herbal medications or mindfulness-based stress reduction such as meditation or Tai Chi. For others, the fix might be a prescription for a pharmaceutical drug. Still others may be treated with a combination of the two forms of medicine.

“There are things western medicine treats well and things it does not. And there are things eastern medicine treats well and things it does not. That’s where integrative medicine comes in by bringing the best of both east and west together,” Borja said. “Having both sets of tools in your medicine bag ultimately benefits the patient.”

For more information about the Integrative Medicine Clinic at ETSU Family Medicine Associates, call 423-439-6464. The clinic is located at 917 W. Walnut St.

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