As the name implies, Integrative Medicine caters to health via a cohesive approach. It focuses on the
- emotional aspects
of an individual’s lifestyle.
The World Health Organization defines health as:
“A state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
Given this definition, it is impossible to achieve a health status in real sense. The human life cycle trails ups and downs of varying nature. There is nothing as perfection in this realm. You may be physically fit otherwise. Yet financial or work-related stress may overwhelm your mental health. In any case ill-health may upset your social comfort zone. Conversely, psychological and social havoc may result in the development of physical ailments.
Human health has different facades that interconnect with each other. Disturbance in one creates a ripple effect that disturbs the entire health pattern. To meet a complete health status, Integrative Medicine is an innovative method. It makes use of the existing therapy models and delivers a cumulative effect in regards to health.
Integrative medicine aims at symptomatic treatment. Not only that, it works out a preventive approach for long-term upshots. It thereby caters to the multifaceted chemistry between
- environmental influences
For this purpose, different treatment modalities play their part. Be it allopathic medicine or alternative, complementary or conventional. A more personalized healthcare routine that seeks to refurbish and sustain health and wellness through a person’s lifespan by understanding the inimitable circumstantial evidence that led to a disease state.
Philosophy of Integrative Medicine
Confused? Let us clarify the defining principles of integrative medicine.
- Though the patient is the hub of the subject therapy, the practitioner is an equal partner as well. Where the patient receives treatment, the practitioner explores, learns and delivers.
- The focus revolves around each aspect of health and wellness. It includes body, mind, spirit, social and environment.
- Integrative medicine targets innate healing via conventional as well as alternative means.
- Integrative medicine applies methods that are natural and less invasive as possible.
- The integrative approach neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
- Integrative medicine is inquiry-driven with an open view of new therapeutic prototypes.
- Health promotion and disease prevention are of utmost importance in this approach.
- Being part of the healing process, the practitioner takes on an exemplary role via self-growth and development.
What is included in Integrative Medicine?
The prevalence of disease states has risen with time. At the same time, the public health sector is gaining more spotlight. An increasing number of people seek answers for improving health. Researchers have shifted their focus to the unmapped and unconventional therapeutic fields. Integrative medicine is a not-so-new field that has evolved from traditional therapeutic grounds. As modern medicine has its side effects and all, the popularity of integrative medicine is at an all-time high.
Integrative medicine helps to improve your quality of life and health status. Yet they are not a substitute for conventional medicine. They may not be applicable in certain cases. But, they act as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for a condition. Integrative medicine helps foster the inculcation and growth of healthy lifestyle behaviors for effective self-care. It aids patients to preserve a healthy routine throughout their lives.
Some examples of common practices include:
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Dietary supplements
- Massage therapy
- Music therapy
- Meditation and Yoga
- Nutritional counseling
health is about more than just treating symptoms
Difference Between Integrative Medicine and Other Therapies
Integrative medicine umbrellas therapies which are science-backed. Research about them may still be in infancy. Yet the results are encouraging enough to put them in place.
Evidence is the key difference. Integrative medicine utilizes science-backed therapies that a doctor chooses to treat a condition. Integrative medicine matches the best complementary therapies for a more personalized approach. A ‘cherry-pick’ approach that pinpoints the very best, scientifically-validated therapies. They can either be from conventional and CAM systems or both.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH) defines integrative medicine as:
“Combination of mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies bearing high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.”
Let us take an example. Using the ginger syrup to prevent nausea during chemotherapy. Now the ginger syrup is all-natural and supposed to be safe. But it might not be effective enough for a certain individual. Others might have an allergic reaction to it. Anything can happen. An integrative approach would use ginger syrup only if it suits the particular patient at that stage.
Advantages of Integrative Medicine Over Others
As already mentioned, integrative medicine is ideal for short and long-term therapeutic management. Yet, it is not applicable in certain cases. For example, emergencies like stroke or heart attack require a conventional approach. Yet integrative medicine is emerging as a novel approach to prevent disease and set the course for a healthier lifestyle.
Some of the benefits of integrative medicine include:
A comprehensive care system
Integrative medicine makes use of evidence-based therapies to bring relief to a patient. A non-biased dealing of the disease leads to symptom alleviation via verified therapies. For example; certain therapies may support a cancer treatment regime. These may involve
Acupuncture to control nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy. It may help ease cancer pain.
Hypnotherapy (hypnosis) may lessen pain, nausea, and fatigue after cancer surgery. It is also used to manage anxiety in children before procedures.
Massage therapy reduces pain, anxiety, and fatigue.
Meditation helps one relax. It also helps manage pain, depression, and insomnia.
Treating The Person As a Whole
Integrative medicine helps address different human facets. Instead of only focusing on symptoms of a particular disease, the therapies gyrate around the patient. It helps ease unsurfaced and bottled human emotions as well as bodily signs.
Integrative medicine is about wellness, vitality, and healing. It addresses the physiological balance of the body. Regaining the body’s natural state of equilibrium restores and promote health.
Often patients go to doctors with many symptoms affecting multiple organ systems. They end up seeing different practitioners for each of their problems. Integrative medicine puts the focus on the connection of various symptoms. The focus becomes on restoring balance. It helps identify factors that affect the patient’s ability to adhere to health-promoting recommendations. They may include dietary restrictions or an exercise program.
Setting the pace for healthier habits
Integrative medicine looks into the past to dig out the causative factors of the disease. It works in the present to alleviate disease symptoms. It works for the coming future to cut back on disease-causing factors. So working on either side of a timeline of a person, aims to set a healthy lifestyle.
A proactive approach to treat disease
Integrative medicine involves building the groundwork for improved health. This approach actively addresses immune status, nutritional imbalances, and hormone disturbances. It also looks into environmental toxins to avoid exposure to occupational health hazards.
Integrative medicine targets preventive medicine. It is the best way to secure your future health. It is easy to address health conditions before they develop if you know your current health status.
Personalized therapeutic mode
Integrative medicine is not one-size-fits-all. A doctor’s Recommendations vary in integrative treatment plans. They follow each individual’s unique situation. Personalized Integrative assessments are patient-specific. History is taken about everything; from environmental exposures to personal relationships.
Applicable to primary, secondary and special care
Integrative medicine convenes both primary and specialty care units. Psychiatry, gastroenterology and chronic pain management to name a few.
• Immune weakness
• Natural Thyroid (metabolism) replacement
• Adrenal Fatigue (cortisol, dhea) stress
• Andropause/male menopause
• Neurotransmitter analysis/replacement
• Nutritional supplement guidance
• Customized plans
Cost-effective and Convenient
Integrative medicine is a one-stop solution for any condition. Some may find it expensive as it involves different therapies. Yet the ease and convenience add to the cost-effectiveness of this system. You save your precious time by avoiding long waiting periods at different clinics. Most remedies are non-invasive so they make a convenient support system for conventional medicine.
Take home message
The current state of conventional medicine is increasingly becoming frustrating day-by-day globally. It no longer holds the gold standard anywhere. The patient of the current Millennium is health-conscious. Being eagerly involved in pursuing answers for achieving the best of health status.
On the other hand, primary care encourages education, prevention, and self-care. This field is striving to build a partnership with patients to achieve the best health outcome. Scientific research advocates treating every patient individually according to their unique health needs.
Yet the conventional medicine follows the one-size-fits-all options which are expensive. It is overextended, ineffective, choked and overstuffed health care system. The traditional medical care design does not accommodate new requirements.
Now when these goals seem to be impossible to achieve, Integrative Medicine comes to the rescue. It is a revolution that combines age-old, proven and effective alternative treatments with the best of modern achievements of health sciences.