What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine combines the best of conventional and complementary/alternative medicine, based on a patient's individual needs and condition. It seeks to integrate the successes from both the world of Western (allopathic) medicine and complementary medicine. Care is tailored to each individual, recognizing his or her unique set of circumstances. The goal is to utilize the safest, natural, least invasive and most holistic approach. Integrative medicine focuses on the fact that there are many paths to healing, and that “good health” is a cohesive balance of mind, body and soul.
Health comes from the Old English word “hal” (think of the word hale) which means wholeness, soundness or spiritual wellness. 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". Cure, on the other hand, refers to doing something, for example giving drugs or performing surgery to alleviate a troublesome condition or disease. Healing does not equal curing. We can cure a condition such as hypertension with a pharmaceutical drug without healing the patient. Healing would facilitate lifestyle changes that reduce stress, improve diet, promote exercise and increase the person’s sense of well being, and of course, in addition, reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. In doing this, we help improve the balance of health of the body that may result in the ability to discontinue the drug and remove the need for the “cure”.
Integrative medicine can be thought of as "healing- oriented medicine” that takes into account the whole person (body, mind and spirit) including all aspects of lifestyle and the stresses in their life. It emphasizes a therapeutic relationship in which the patient is an active partner who takes personal responsibility for his/her health. Integrative medicine encourages more time and effort be spent on disease prevention rather than waiting for something bad to happen. The incidence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer could be significantly reduced by better lifestyle choices. Instead, they are occurring in epidemic proportions. This has resulted in our current health care crisis. It is important to remember that most of the theories and practices of the complementary part of integrative medicine are rooted in complete systems of theory and practice, that evolved apart from and much earlier than Western medical approaches. Meaning that they are “non-traditional” only to us. Their history and efficacy are long established in other cultures.