Getting to Know Michelle Loy, M.D. of Integrative Health and Wellbeing

Michelle Loy, M.D., FAAP is a nationally recognized physician with board certifications in Integrative Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine, Medical Acupuncture, and Pediatrics.

She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College, her doctorate in medicine from Weill Cornell Medical College, her pediatrics residency training from New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell, and her Adult and Pediatric Integrative Medicine fellowship training from Columbia University/Stamford Hospital.

She utilizes evidence-based interventions from both modern medicine and time-tested traditional modalities including nutrition, movement, acupuncture, botanicals, and mind-body medicine to prevent and manage chronic medical conditions across all age groups at the Integrative Health and Wellbeing program at NewYork-Presbyterian, in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine.

She frequently presents to physicians, patients, and the community on her clinical and research interests which include nutrition, culinary medicine, botanical medicine, cancer prevention, mental health, women’s health, and children’s health. Dr. Loy has achieved recognition in integrative medicine at national academic conferences. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and an executive board member of the AAP Section of Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Loy is a Lecturer for the Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program (Cornell University), serves on the medical advisory board of Plant Powered Metro New York and the Integrative Oncology Working Group Culinary Medicine Expert Panel.

In her recreational time, she enjoys reading, swimming, running, exploring farmer’s markets, and creating healthful, whole-food, plant-forward meals for her husband and five children.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

It utilizes evidence-based interventions from both modern medicine and time-tested traditional modalities including nutrition, movement, acupuncture, botanicals, and mind-body medicine to prevent and manage chronic medical conditions.

What are you passionate about and/or goals in terms of integrative medicine?

Driving factors of interest in pediatric integrative medicine include the prevalence of use of integrative therapies in children living with chronic disease, ex:

  • Functional Abdominal Pain/Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis migraines
  • concussions
  • fibromyalgia
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome
  • ADHD
  • anxiety/depression
  • obesity/overweight
  • tics/OCD, allergies
  • eating disorders

Also we help patients with the desire to reduce frequency and duration of pediatric prescription medication use and the need for more effective approaches in preventative health for children,

There is great potential to improve patient outcomes; improve quality of life, decrease risk factors, symptom relief and satisfaction, while simultaneously reducing health care costs.

In addition to improving the health of my pediatric and adolescent patients, I am passionate about physician and caregiver wellness. I hope that not only the patients will benefit from the consultation but also their guardians/family members. Many of these lifestyle changes will benefit the entire family. I am also devoted to supporting physician wellness as their wellbeing impacts not only themselves, their families, but also their patients.

How does your role interact with referring physicians and their patients?

I am so fortunate to have trained at Weill Cornell Medicine and practice among the brightest and best primary care pediatricians, pediatric specialists, clinicians, and researchers. Our patients enjoy the cutting edge, state of the art medical and surgical therapies. Where integrative medicine can play a unique role is in broadening the toolbox to complement existing conventional therapies.

There is emerging research on the role of the microbiome, nutrition, physical activity, manual medicine, mind-body medicine, herbs/vitamins/minerals on conditions involving inflammation, chronic disease, autoimmunity, chronic pain, and other medical complex situations. In many cases, patients are better able to adhere to the conventional medication plan by employing lifestyle and integrative supportive modalities. A strong sense of agency and hope is key to healing, even in situations when cure is not possible.

Can you give an example of the services you provide or how you help patients who have been referred to you by doctors?

With dual appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, I see patients of all ages and diagnoses. However, I would say the most frequent symptoms include abdominal pain, joint pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, dysmenorrhea/PMS, fatigue, attention difficulties, developmental/behavioral/emotional issues, PTSD/adverse childhood experience, somatic complaints, food allergies/autoimmune conditions, eating disorders, overweight/obesity.

My toolbox is broad and tailored to the patient and family’s interests but just to give you an idea/sampling from the last few weeks, my visits have included:

  • culinary medicine (allergies, obesity, GI, migraines)
  • acupuncture/acupressure (IBS, pain, fatigue, dysmenorrhea)
  • cupping (myofascial pain)
  • vitamins/minerals/supplements
  • guided imagery/med hypnosis (anxiety, PTSD/somatic complaints)
  • biofeedback (anxiety, ADHD)
  • botanicals/supplements (pain, fatigue, concussion)
  • pet therapy (PTSD/grief)
  • narrative medicine (chronic illness)
  • somatic yoga (pain)
  • meditation (anxiety)
  • breathwork (pain, stress)
  • ayurvedic teas (GI distress)
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine soups (gyn)
  • aromatherapy (stress)
  • weighted blanket (sensory integration issues)
  • referrals to various subspecialities

In some cases, as part of a vitamin/supplement review, I have recommended patients to stop certain diets or supplements that may be harmful or ineffective, and have encouraged other patients to consider adding a prescription medication where the evidence is robust. I also routinely refer patients to various specialists (conventional and integrative) as the diagnosis dictates.

Do patients have to be referred to you for consultation or can they find you via web?

Patients are referred to me by their primary care doctor or specialist through EPIC or more directly through Find A Doctor search. Patients also find me through the internet as I am one of the few pediatricians fellowship trained and board certified in integrative medicine, lifestyle medicine, medical acupuncture, and pediatrics. At Integrative Health and Wellbeing, we offer our services as subspecialty consultants, so all patients need to have their own PCP.

I imagine that all sessions are different depending on the patient and situation, but do you have a common approach that you use you would like to share?

All patients are given a comprehensive intake form which I will review in detail before the visit. In addition to a typical medical intake form covering chief complaint, history of present illness, past medical and surgical history, birth and developmental history, family history, social history, family history, I will ask about nutrition, physical activity, sleep, sources of stress and coping mechanisms, sources of joy, meaning, purpose, spiritual history (if relevant). Using motivational interviewing approaches, we will address the major pillars of integrative and lifestyle medicine that the patient is most interested in pursuing first.

You mentioned improving physician wellness, what type of services does integrative medicine provide for Physicians who are struggling with mental health or wellness?

Physicians by virtue of their work ethic, compassion, high standards of practice, productivity and record keeping, pressures to meet the goals of their patients and co-workers, demanding schedules, and personal lives (caregivers to family) are at high risk for mental stress, professional and personal burnout. A 2020 Pediatrics study associated empathy, self-compassion, quality of life, and confidence in providing compassionate care with lower risk of burnout in pediatric residents. Mindfulness has been shown to measurably reduce stress levels, improve coping ability, resilience and quality of life, in addition to improving efficacy in counseling.

I am fortunate to work with a wonderful team at Integrative Health and Wellbeing. In addition to a team of physicians, we have three acupuncturists, a psychologist, a dietitian, two mind body instructors, a massage therapist, and a pastoral care physician. Almost all of our services are covered by insurance (including the plans at WCM), and physicians can attend a number of group classes including lifestyle change, gut health, women’s health, fertility/prenatal, oncology, anxiety, stress management/biofeedback, meditation classes, meditation retreats, mind body stress reduction (MBSR) courses. New classes are added periodically so we encourage you to check the website. We offer both in-person and telemedicine visits.

What are 1-2 takeaways you want people to know about Integrative Medicine?

Weill Cornell Medicine is fortunate to have an Integrative Medicine Center. We practice evidence-based integrative medicine which means you and your patients will receive the best modern medicine and time-tested therapies. We are here to support you, your family, and your patients. We invite you and your patients to take advantage of the services available.