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Integrative medicine is quickly becoming a recognized specialty in medicine. Integrative medicine practitioners often have a more holistic approach to health, taking into account a patient's mental, physical and emotional landscape. Integrative medicine also combines treatment modalities and recommendations from many systems of medicine. For example, treatment for back pain may involve a prescription for anti-inflammatories in addition to acupuncture.
I define Integrative Medicine as combining conventional western medicine as is taught in today’s medical schools, with holistic, “alternative,” and mind-body therapies that include nutrition, stress management, energy medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and many other modalities to optimize the health and well-being of the patient.
Integrative Medicine is a combination of conventional medical practices with holistic and complementary medical systems. Instead of being "an alternative" treatment, integrative medicine incorporates the cutting edge technology of Western Medicine with the ancient wisdom of the Eastern Systems.
An example of applying integrative medicine into practice would be the incorporation of diet, lifestyle, therapeutic supplements, and herbs along with properly prescribed medicine or conventional therapies. Naturopathic Physicians are one type of integrative health care provider who are specifically trained in Integrative Medicine. They are one of the few medical specialists trained in nutritional and herbal drug interactions.
Ideally, Integrative Medicine provides a holistic viewpoint of the patient and focuses therapy on all levels of wellness, physical, emotional, and spiritual. This is best accomplished through the collaboration of all different specialists and practitioners working together for the patient.
Integrative medicine, sometimes referred to as complementary medicine or therapy, is a term used to describe services that support or supplement traditional treatments for conditions or illnesses. Integrative medicine is not intended to take the place of medical therapy, but may help support overall wellness. Some integrative medicine examples include Reiki, acupuncture, nutrition, yoga, exercise, meditation and massage.
Many health care providers embrace the concept of integrative medicine. In this video, Dr. Oz explains what it integrative medicine is, and why more conventional doctors should be open to it.
The simple, straightforward answer: integrative medicine focuses on cause rather than symptoms; and once cause is known, recommendations and treatment encompass the best of Western and Eastern medicine.
How I see it: We have health concerns. Rather than matching every concern with procedures and medications, we want to know what the problems really are that affect us and what can we do for ourselves as the first step to fix them. There is a wealth of good information that can be drawn from. Most of my patients want a natural approach as long as it is safe and has a reasonable chance to make a difference. The best integrative medicine couples doctor and patient as a team.
Integrative Medicine means different things to different people, depending on who is defining it. For many docs using the term, it is just the blending of the best of conventional and alternative medicine based on the research evidence. Some people emphasize the doctor-patient relationship, but that should always simply be part of good medical practice.
Some docs are using the Integrative Medicine label for their own branding and self-promotion. Some are even trying to coopt the term in order to own it in one way or another.
For the most part, Integrative Medicine does not exist. The MDs are doing complementary medicine. They are complementing their main-stream medical approaches with a few alternative therapies. They aren't really trained in these other therapies, and they will always neglect one or more of the alternative therapies, based upon their prejudices.
The patients are going to the acupuncturist, chiropractor and herbalist, but those practitioners are not talking with the MD. And the MD is certainly not talking with them. The supplements and vitamins are being prescribed by the home shopping channel or the guy in the health food store. The MD and the other practitioners rarely know what's going on.
So for the vast majority of instances, Integrative Medicine does not exist. It's a nice idea, but it's not happening, and it's not going to happen. The best we can do is to get our patients to keep records of the various things they are doing for their health, so that we can at least look it over for safety issues.
Patients will always try some new pill or run off to Aunt Millie's homeopath. That's OK -- they have that right. But it's really hard to keep track of all this, even for the patient.
Five percent of Medicare enrollees cost Medicare 43% of its payout. This 5% of Medicare patients has on average 5 major medical problems, and they have on average 14 doctors in their medical records. Do you really think that all 14 of these doctors are integrating or coordinating their care? Even a few of them?
There are only 3 or 4 of us in the U.S. who have the full cross-training to be able to actually do the integration of alternative therapies with conventional medicine for patients in our offices. But even for us, it's a challenge. So for the most part, Integrative Medicine doesn't really exist.
Good health to you -