Integrative medicine is the practice of medicine that concentrates on the whole individual and utilizes all appropriate treatment approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to attain optimal health and healing.
The idea brings together state-of-the-art, conventional medical treatments with other therapies that are very carefully selected and demonstrated to be safe and effective. The goal is to unite the very best that conventional medicine provides with other healing methods and therapies derived from cultures and concepts both old and new.
Integrative medicine is centered upon a model of health and wellness, instead of a model of disease. Whenever feasible, integrative medicine favors using low-tech, low-cost interventions.
The integrative medicine model acknowledges the crucial role the practitioner-patient relationship plays in a patient’s overall healthcare experience, and it attempts to care for the whole person by taking into consideration the many interrelated physical and nonphysical factors affecting health, wellness, and disease, including the psychosocial and spiritual dimensions of people’s lives.
A lot of people mistakenly use the term integrative medicine interchangeably with the phrases complementary medicine and alternative medicine, commonly known collectively as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. Although integrative medicine is not synonymous with CAM, CAM therapies do make up a significant part of the integrative medicine model.
Since, by its very nature, the components of integrative medicine can’t exist in isolation, CAM practitioners need to be willing and able to incorporate the care they offer into the best practices of conventional medicine.
For example, CAM therapies like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery are more and more integrated into today’s conventional treatment of heart disease, cancer, and various other serious illnesses. Scientific evidence supports this approach to health and healing.
Coordinating all of the care provided to a patient is a cornerstone of the integrative medicine approach. Your primary care physician should work in conjunction with such practitioners as your integrative medicine physician, integrative health coach, nutritionist, massage therapist, and acupuncturist.