Dr. Melanie Phuah advocates a holistic approach to medicine and health.
Contributed By Nicolette Ng
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
A conversation with Melanie Phuah would intrigue you and make you wonder what makes her so passionate about her job and Nutramed, one of the few clinics in Singapore offering integrated healthcare. She is a strong advocate for proactive health care and is a regular speaker at health forums, touching on areas such as weight management and proactive health.
Phuah has 10 years of experience in intensive care and chronic medicine. She has trained in various hospitals in United Kingdom and Singapore. During this time she felt a distinct need to incorporate complementary therapies to fill in the gaps in conventional medicine which is predominantly disease-oriented rather than health-oriented.
She has also undergone extensive training with the Australian college of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine and made the decision to establish Nutramed Clinic to incorporate integrated healthcare into her current practice.
“What works for one person may not be suitable for another,” explains Phuah with enthusiasm. “Integrated medicine gives you the best of both worlds; it treats the existing problem and at the same time finds out the root cause of the problem to ensure that the treatment becomes a long term solution.”
Integrated Healthcare couples both the conventional healing methods and medication together with examining one’s current lifestyle factors such as:
• Relationship. The social support network: family, friends, involvement in community, and a strong doctor-patient alliance.
• Diet and lifestyle. Nutrition, habits, and the daily pattern of rest and exercise.
• A healthy environment. Protection from chemical and biological toxins.
• Detoxification. The body’s ability to self-purify and protect itself from internal toxicity.
These are the details that a doctor in integrative medicine would need to find out in order to help arrange the best and most effective treatment for the patient. For the past two and a half years, Phuah has been actively studying and getting herself herself involved in integrated healthcare. As she shared further, it was uncovered that her initial interest in this area of medicine came from her daughter.
“My daughter had eczema when she was a newborn but I refused to use conventional medication to treat her as I felt she was too young for it.” When she decided to change her daughter’s lifestyle and diet, she realized that she was able to prevent the eczema from acting up again. “It was then that I started developing interest in this area.”
As a female doctor, Phuah’s clinic is popular with female patients and she treats a wide range of illnesses ranging from cancer, chronic diseases, sinus, rheumatism and infections.
One of her success stories was treating a teenage boy who had chronic sinusitis and infections since young. His parents had tried every kind of medication—he went through numerous dosages of antibiotics and even operations to no avail. When his mother, who had prior knowledge of integrative medication, heard of Nutramed, she brought him to Phuah. At the clinic after a mere two months of treatment, they found out that it was a certain food allergy and lifestyle habits that had caused his chronic sinus. With some adjustments to his lifestyle and appropriate medication, it never came back.
“Lifestyle is so important, we want to look for the root cause of the problems,” Phuah said as she related her patient’s story.
Phuah shares that the greatest challenges as a doctor in integrated healthcare are the hours and effort she has to put in to fully understand what the patient is going through in his or her life. One consultation can easily take up to two hours per session. Clearly, Phuah is more than just your regular doctor next door.
Phuah hopes that Singaporeans can be more receptive toward integrative medication. She also hopes to see her fellow medical colleagues emphasizing more on the lifestyle of the patients as this would provide a long term solution.
There are exciting plans in the works for Nutramed. Phuah aims to integrate a fitness instructor as well as a dietician so that their clinic can be a one-stop wellness and lifestyle center.
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Phuah says that with the hectic work schedule of Singaporeans, eight hours a sleep a day with dreams at least two or three days a week is important. Having control and balance in our mental stress levels also greatly affects our physical condition.
“I would say that the best health book is definitely the Bible; just like the food showcased in the Bible, eat fresh food that are low in carbohydrates and low in sugar. Many of my professors in Australia quote the Bible while conducting their lectures. For example, fasting is not only a spiritual cleansing, it is also a good detoxification habit.”
19 Tanglin Road,
#06-09 Tanglin Shopping Centre
Contact: +65 6735 0706