Integrative Medicine is a relatively new medical discipline that combines mainstream medical therapies with non-conventional therapies. However, Integrative Medicine only uses complementary therapies for which there is scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness. In short, Integrative Medicine utilizes all appropriate, evidenced-based therapies to achieve a desirable state of health.
Learn more about Integrative Medicine from renowned expert Andrew Weil, MD.
Since the 1960's, Americans have become increasingly familiar with complementary methods of healing such as massage, acupuncture, and nutrition therapies. The practice of Integrative Medicine has helped mount scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of these and other modalities. This is important as over 50 percent of patients surveyed state they use non-conventional therapies. Now there are knowledgeable physicians and other licensed practitioners available to safely and effectively guide these patients on their path to healing.
The American Hospital Association recently reported that nearly 20 percent of hospitals, including leading medical facilities at Duke, Mayo, Cleveland Clinic and Harvard, feature Integrative Medicine departments as part of their offerings. Another 25 percent of hospitals plan to offer Integrative Medicine services in the near future.
Phenomenal changes are taking place in the American healthcare system today. Treatments once considered "fringe" such as clinical hypnosis, guided imagery, and aromatherapy, have been scientifically tested and are increasingly being used today alongside conventional western medicine in mainstream treatment facilities. This novel approach looks beyond the health of the body or the mere absence of disease. Rather, it focuses on the whole body's health - mind, body and spirit - and is referred to as Integrative Medicine.
Practitioners of Integrative Medicine tend to have an open relationship with their patients, and as patients are increasingly taking charge of their health, they utilize the practitioner to keep them on course. Those who practice Integrative Medicine consider a patient's satisfaction with life very important, emphasizing the need for stress management and good mental hygiene to positively affect healing and health. Integrative Medicine doesn't focus solely on curing disease and illness; it emphasizes preventing disease and/or living optimally despite a chronic disease.
Learn more about the potential benefits of Integrative Medicine.
Some of the available Integrative Medicine therapies include the following:
- Acupuncture is the strategic and mostly painless insertion of fine needles into points on the body's surface for the purpose of stimulating healing and balance in the body and mind.
- Massage Therapy is a form of manual therapy using touch and tissue manipulation. There are many different forms, including Swedish, relaxation, sports and reflexology massages.
- Nutritional Therapy focuses on eating or eliminating particular foods, and/or supplementing with vitamins or other nutrients for therapeutic benefit.
- Osteopathy is a system of medicine based on the theory that disturbances in the musculoskeletal system affect other parts of the body, causing many disorders that can be corrected by manual therapies like manipulation. D.O.s are Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine that can also employ conventional medical, surgical, pharmacological and therapeutic procedures.
- Therapeutic Touch is based on the theory that a practitioner can facilitate energy exchange by using his/her hands as a focus for relaxation that will in turn promote health and healing.
In summary, Integrative Medicine focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body and spirit) and helping patients to find the resources to create their own path to healing. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of a broad range of evidenced-based therapies that become essential components on a person's path to health and wellness.