What is Integrative Medicine?
Using synthetic drugs and surgery to treat health conditions was known just a few decades ago as, simply, “medicine.” Today, this system is increasingly being termed “conventional medicine.” This is the kind of medicine most Americans still encounter in hospitals and clinics. Often both expensive and invasive, it is also very good at some things; for example, handling emergency conditions such as massive injury or a life-threatening stroke. If you were hit by a bus, you would want to be taken immediately to a high-tech emergency room. Some conventional medicine is scientifically validated, some is not.
Any therapy that is typically excluded by conventional medicine, and that patients use instead of conventional medicine, is known as “alternative medicine.. Generally alternative therapies are closer to nature, cheaper and less invasive than conventional therapies, although there are exceptions. Some alternative therapies are scientifically validated, some are not integrative medicine “combines mainstream medical therapies and alternative therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.”
In other words, integrative medicine “cherry picks” the very best, scientifically validated therapies from both conventional and alternative systems
Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes a strong doctor- patient relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.
The principles of integrative medicine:
- A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process
- The unique makeup of each patient is considered, along with the internal and external environmental factors that affect well-being
- Individualized approaches to lifestyle, diet and exercise
- Personalized program – a program is developed and tailored to fit each patient’s unique requirements
- Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
- A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
- Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
- Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible
The Appeal of Integrative Medicine
What makes integrative medicine appealing? Deep dissatisfaction with a health care system that often leaves doctors feeling rushed and overwhelmed and patients feeling as if they’re nothing more than diseased livers or damaged joints. Integrative medicine seems to promise more time, more attention, and a broader approach to healing — one that is not based solely on the Western insurance based, profit driven model, but also draws from other proven methods of healing and maintaining health.
Simply put, integrative health and medicine offer best practices for optimal health and healing.