It’s by no stretch of the imagination that with a PhD in biomolecular chemistry, an MD from the University of Wisconsin-Medical School, training at the Mayo Clinic and residency and fellowships in pulmonary and critical care — not to mention nine years of experience practicing in these fields — Dr. Steven Bittorf is an accomplished member of the medical community.
“I feel fulfilled… but one of the things I recognized is that we expend a lot of resources at the end of life in our medical system,” he explains. “We don’t devote nearly enough attention to preventing a lot of preventable disease. It’s really a tragedy.”
Dr. Bittorf also struggled with the notion that the medical system is programmed for, and focuses on, the diseased patient in a disease model, making it difficult to take into consideration individual differences in the population. It’s in that sentiment that he began considering a more alternative side to care via integrative medicine, also known as functional medicine.
But what is it?
“It’s a very common question,” Dr. Bittorf explains. “Integrative medicine is one-on-one care with the emphasis on the relationship between the physician and the patient. It aims to incorporate both traditional care and alternative care... it’s an emerging subspecialty of medicine. In the mid-2000s it was kind of a whisper in the woods. But I was listening to that whisper.”
Listening but also initiating a business model in which he could spend quality time with patients offering care that wasn’t readily available in traditional areas of medicine was Dr. Bittorf’s mission.
“Lifestyle change is the best medicine your practitioner is not offering you right now… it’s the big elephant in the room. It’s not easy to do on your own, you have to have structured help,” he says.
Dr. Bittorf founded Green Bay Integrative Health (GBIH), a clinic devoted to “sharing extensive knowledge of integrative medicine for patients seeking an alternative approach to a variety of ailments, providing aesthetic and healthy aging services, and promoting health and wellness” in 2014 so he can be the person alongside you on your health journey.
An infusion of individualized, customized care
GBIH focuses on all facets of an individual’s health and implements a full array of alternative treatment options, including supplement care, food sensitivity and allergen testing, aesthetics (like Botox and Juvederm), general medicine, hormone replacement therapy and vitamin infusions to treat a variety of ailments and to prevent further medical intervention.
A wide range of conditions such as fibromyalgia, Lyme’s disease, ovarian and breast cancer, and chronic fatigue syndrome have been studied and shown to benefit from vitamin C. However, it’s not as simple as taking a pill each morning. The level of vitamin C absorbable by the body is 500 milligrams per day. GBIH provides infusions of up to 50,000 grams in one intravenous session.
“If you take (vitamin C) by mouth, you can only absorb so much into your bloodstream,” Dr. Bittorf explains. “Super high doses of it by vein transiently flow in the bloodstream. It does not cause illness to normal cells or to the individual, and for cancer cells, it induces something called hydrogen peroxide that kills those cells by taking advantage of their sensitivity to vitamin C.”
General vitamin deficiency, Dr. Bittorf says, is also a more common issue to contemplate than we might realize. Per the Center for Disease Control, 90 million Americans are deficient in vitamin D alone. This can contribute to symptoms of depression, seasonal affective disorder, obesity, cardiovascular disease, strokes, insulin metabolism being poor, and Alzheimer’s disease worsening.
Being mindful of our gut is also vital to our health.
“The bacteria in our gut secretes more serotonin that reaches our bloodstream than our whole brain makes in a single day,” Dr. Bittorf says. “If you have an unhealthy biome, you’re not getting that serotonin in your blood and could have sleep disturbance, mental health issues, skin rashes and joint inflammation.”
Education on vitamin deficiency and supplements is a large part of Green Bay Integrative Health’s care, and one Dr. Bittorf takes seriously. While he explains that the supplemental field is an unregulated industry often affecting the purity and concentration of ingredients, he’s found a medical-grade supplement company called XYMOGEN Nutriceuticals to ensure he and his patients know what they’re receiving in the form of vitamins.
“A lot of times people aren’t getting what they think they’re getting or in the right concentration... as your XYMOGEN Nutriceutical Practitioner, you will receive the highest quality formulas on the market and the best customer service in the industry... we care that you want safe, effective formulas on which you can rely. I am proud to be affiliated with a team helping to bring patients what they are searching for — better health and wellness.”
A healthy aging technology for men and women
Typical signs of aging include insomnia, hot flashes, muscle weakness, aches and pains in the joints, irritability, mood swings, mental fog, memory loss, and mild depression — for both men and women. They’re also clear signs of a decline in hormone levels. The replacement of hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen can easily assuage such symptoms.
“Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is very popular now, and it’s also very safe,” Dr. Bittorf says. “It’s effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause in women and andropause for men affecting people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and older. I have patients in their 80s.”
GBIH utilizes three hormone replacement therapy methods: body creams, lozenges for under the tongue and unique to Dr. Bittorf is pellet therapy in which hormone release from pellets is cardio-activated and delivers consistent, healthy levels of hormones for three to five months in women, and four to six months in men. Pellets avoid the fluctuations, or ups and downs, of hormone levels seen with other forms of delivery.
“It’s the cheapest most effective way to get hormone replacement therapy,” Dr. Bittorf says. The key to the pellet form is that it’s bioidentical, not synthetic. After a while it dissolves and disappears completely. (They) are compounded by an FDA-approved pharmacy into concentrated pellets the size of a grain of rice. The pellets are custom prescribed for each patient and implanted under the skin.
“It’s a healthy aging technology. People who have hormone replacement therapy have better cardiovascular health, better muscle strength and bone mass. When I’m 90 I’d like to do 50 pushups and a crossword puzzle and remember that I did both!
“Patients have told me I’ve saved their lives, and it gives me a really warm feeling. I get really attached to my patients because we see each other frequently and I know it’s making a difference. It’s about forming relationships, and it’s rewarding for me.”
"My approach to medicine is based upon a model of health and wellness, as opposed to a model of disease. Whenever possible, integrative medicine favors the use of low-tech, low-cost interventions. I incorporate these techniques in every visit.” —Dr. Steven Bittorf
Green Bay Integrative Health
926 Willard Drive, Suite 236, Green Bay
920-489-8349 • www.greenbayintegrativehealth.com