Do Introducing THE WELL at Mayflower Inn, New England’s Newest Holistic Wellness Destination: A Conversation with Dr. Frank Lipman, M.D
Introducing THE WELL at Mayflower Inn, New England’s Newest Holistic Wellness Destination: A Conversation with Dr. Frank Lipman, M.D
A sophisticated refresh by acclaimed New York-based interior designer Celerie Kemble is not all you’ll discover at The Mayflower Inn & Spa this fall. New England’s most exquisite country retreat is now home to THE WELL, a new holistic wellness destination that’s bringing an innovative approach to health to western Connecticut.
Along with a state-of-the-art wellness center that’s been completely reimagined with new amenities including an infrared sauna, cryotherapy chamber, and pool house, comprehensive weekly programming now includes custom-designed spa treatments, expert-led health coaching sessions, daily workshops, and seasonal retreats—all designed to optimize your health and wellness so that you can rediscover your best self.
As the Chief Medical Officer of THE WELL at Mayflower Inn, renowned functional medicine doctor Frank Lipman, M.D, has been a pioneer of integrative and functional medicine for almost 40 years. He is also the best-selling author of How to Be Well and The New Rules of Aging Well. Under his guidance, trained health practitioners investigate different areas of guests’ lives during one-on-one coaching sessions, then formulate personalized, adjustable plans that outline attainable actions guests can take in order to achieve their wellness goals, be that improving nutrition, digestion, sleep, or reducing stress. In light of the launch of THE WELL at Mayflower Inn & Spa, we asked Lipman about the importance of functional medicine and ways in which you can increase well-being in your own life.
What inspired you to pursue functional medicine, or “good medicine” as you call it?
Western medicine is great at dealing with what I call crisis care—treating someone who is acutely ill such as when they have appendicitis or pneumonia, or treating a broken bone—but I realized soon after my initial medical training that western medicine doesn’t deal particularly well with the chronic, everyday problems that people experience such as tiredness, fatigue, bloating, constipation, headaches, sleep problems, or stress. Although I am a board-certified internist originally trained in western medicine, I started looking for other solutions to help people’s common problems beyond using drugs or surgery.
I initially got into Chinese medicine, which took me on a whole journey of learning all sorts of therapies, from acupuncture to herbs, nutrition, meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques. Over the years, functional medicine evolved into a system that combines the biochemistry and science of western medicine with the philosophy of eastern medicine, which focuses on achieving balance by treating the underlying factors that cause functional problems.
So what exactly is functional medicine, and how does it differ from traditional western medicine?
In western medicine, we see the body as one way or another—you either have a disease or you’re healthy. There’s nothing in between. In functional medicine, there’s this huge gray area. We dig a little bit deeper, usually with more tests, to see what’s been going on in people’s lives so that we can come up with lifestyle solutions to help optimize the functioning of organs and improve one’s health.
For example, if you go to your doctor with heartburn, you’re given a drug like Pepcid to suppress it. In actuality, the heartburn is a pointer to some imbalance in the system. When you come to a functional medicine doctor with heartburn, we want to see why you have the heartburn and try to treat those underlying causes through diet changes, relaxation techniques, body work, or supplements—in other words, more benign therapies that support the body’s own healing capacity as opposed to suppressing the symptom with a drug. It’s a very different way of seeing the body and treating the body.
How important is integrating functional medicine into one’s own life, versus just seeing a general practitioner?
Functional medicine doctors should be a practitioner you have in your life. They use western medicine where it’s appropriate and functional medicine or other modalities for most of the other problems people have. It’s complicated because people believe in their doctors and the medical system and they still see functional medicine as an alternative. However, I see it as an integral part of any healthcare that people are having. It’s using lifestyle changes, dietary changes, relaxation therapies, and supplements to help optimize people’s function, not just treat disease.
What is the secret to leading a happy, healthy, long life?
The ordinary things we do on a daily basis can have an extraordinary effect on our health. Having gratitude, being kind to yourself and others, spending time in nature, spending time with your loved ones and your family, having a purpose in life, being able to laugh at yourself, dancing, and listening to music are all little things we rarely think about or even ignore, but they have very powerful effects on our health.
Is there one thing that most people are missing out on?
Sleep. While sleep is starting to get the attention it deserves, many people still don’t realize the importance of getting a good night’s rest. Some think your body just switches off and shuts down when you sleep. In reality, sleep is a very active process in which your body is cleansing, repairing, and restoring. If you don’t get enough, many key essential functions are not happening.
What are some ways we can stay healthy when we’re traveling, or even at home to cope with all that’s going on?
What I always say is be kind to yourself and to others—being kind is extremely helpful. Learn or try to be of service to others, maybe to family members or others in the community. Volunteering or being of service without expecting anything in return is good for your health. Move your body as much as possible. Go for a walk first thing in the morning—in nature, if you can—and try and get some sunlight during the day. As we head into winter, everyone should get their vitamin D levels checked. People get more moody in the winter, and often it’s related to low vitamin D. With Covid around, studies are showing that vitamin D levels seem to play a part in how well people respond if they get the virus. Doing something meditative for 15-20 minutes a day can be very helpful, too, and it doesn’t have to be meditation. It could be knitting, playing with your kids, gardening… You want to be able to get out of your head so you’re not worrying about everything and learn to become present.
Are there any resources you could recommend for people who are just starting to look into function medicine and seeking a functional medicine doctor? Where should guests start?
A great place to start is by booking a coaching session. A coach should be able to determine whether you need to see a doctor, receive some body work, or do some yoga.