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Integrative Medicine is an approach to care that places the individual as the primary focal point, and addresses the complete array of physical, psychological, psychological, social, religious and environmental influences that affect an individual's health. 

What is integrative medicine?

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the popular name for medical care practices that traditionally haven't been part of traditional medicine. Often times, as proof of efficacy and safety increases, these remedies are being combined with traditional medicine.

Therefore, the term alternative has been dropped and replaced with newer terms, such as complementary and integrative medicine, integrative medicine and health, or only integrative medicine.

Integrative Medicine is an approach to care that places the individual at the focal point and addresses the complete array of physical, psychological, psychological, social, religious, and environmental influences that affect an individual's health. Implementing a personalized plan that considers the patient's unique requirements, circumstances, and needs, it uses the most suitable interventions from a range of scientific disciplines to cure disease and illness and help people regain and maintain optimal health.

See: Integrative vs Functional Medicine

Integrative Medicine definition

Integrative medicine is grounded in the definition of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Integrative medicine seeks to restore and maintain health and wellness throughout an individual's lifespan by knowing the patient's unique set of conditions and addressing the entire array of physical, psychological, psychological, social, religious, and environmental influences that affect health. Through personalizing care, integrative medicine goes beyond the treatment of symptoms to deal with all the causes of disease. In doing this, the patient's immediate health needs in addition to the impacts of the long term and complex interplay between biological, behavioral, psychosocial, and environmental influences are taken into consideration. 

See: Holistic Medicine

Integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine, which describes an approach to recovery that's used in place of conventional treatments, or complementary medicine, which describes healing modalities that are utilized to complement allopathic approaches. If the defining principles are implemented, maintenance can be integrative irrespective of which modalities are used.

See: Ayurvedic Treatment for Prediabetes & Diabetes Type 2

Principles of Integrative Medicine

The defining principles of integrative medicine are:

• The practitioner and patient are partners in the healing procedure.

• All factors that affect health, health, and disease are taken into account, including body, mind, spirit, and community.

• Providers utilize all healing sciences to facilitate the body's innate healing response.

See: Difference between functional medicine & integrative medicine

• Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are utilized whenever possible.

• Superior medicine is based on science. It's question-driven and open to new paradigms.

• Alongside the notion of treatment, the wider concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are overriding.

• The maintenance is personalized to address the person's unique requirements, needs, and conditions. Practitioners of integrative medicine exemplify its principles and devote themselves to self-exploration and self-development.

Besides addressing and handling the immediate health issue(s) in addition to the deeper causes of the disease or sickness, integrative medicine strategies also concentrate on prevention and foster the growth of healthy behaviors and skills for successful self-care that individuals can use throughout their lifetimes.

See: Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia pain relief

Integrative Medicine therapies

Integrative Medicine combines the best of psychological (meditation, hypnosis), supplements, acupuncture, diet, and lifestyle treatments with mainstream contemporary medication and psychotherapy to give care for the whole person: body and mind. Integrative Medicine at reputable institutions is dedicated to evidence-based practices. The intention is to help you live more fully, cope better with your medical condition, control symptoms, and engage more fully in your medical care.

Integrative medicine can help people with cancer, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and several other conditions better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life by reducing fatigue, anxiety, and pain. Examples of common therapies include:

• Acupuncture

Ayurveda

 Animal-assisted therapy

• Functional Medicine

• Naturopathic medicine

• Aromatherapy

Dietary supplements

• Massage therapy

• Music therapy

• Meditation

•  Yoga

See: Functional Medicine for Cancer Patients

Integrative Medicine Benefits

Integrative medicine is healing-oriented as opposed to disease-focused.

It boosts the combination of mind, body, and spirit to regain the body's natural equilibrium to attain health. The common benefits of integrative medicine cited by practitioners and patients include:

1. Being healing-oriented

Integrative medicine's attention, like the ancient methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, and Ayurveda, is all about health, healing, and vitality, as opposed to focusing only on the disease. It starts with the assumption that there's a physiologic balance that's disrupted and contributes to the manifestations of disease and illness. Regaining the body's natural state of balance can restore this balance and promote wellbeing.

2. Concentrate on the mind, body, and soul

Too often patients visit physicians with numerous symptoms affecting multiple organ systems and see unique practitioners for every one of their problems. Integrative medicine puts the attention on how various symptoms may be linked and searches for root causes, instead of simply treating individual symptoms. The focus becomes restoring balance and considering factors that may influence the patient's ability to adhere to recommendations like cultural dietary restrictions or the inability to adhere to an exercise program due to work obligations.

3. Emphasizing the therapeutic relationship

There's a new focus on the practitioner-patient venture forcing us to look at particular questions: How has the clinician's role changed? Are there any better ways to deal with health issues that could only be managed, not cured? The integrative partnership guides and advises patients regarding treatment choices. Together, the patient and practitioners choose the best plan of action. In the management of chronic diseases, the focus is placed on meeting the individual where they are in the present time. By addressing barriers to lifestyle changes and treatment adherence, there's a higher probability of succeeding with the recommended therapy.

4. Personalized medicine

Recommendations may change in integrative treatment strategies according to each person's unique situation. In tailoring treatment plans to individual needs, practitioners inspect the literature frequently utilizing the scientific method to evaluate alternative therapies exactly the exact same way as conventional therapies. Integrative evaluations are highly personalized. Patients are asked about everything from environmental exposures to personal relationships. All factors are considered when deciding whether an individual remains healthy.

5. Using all appropriate remedies

By combining conventional allopathic treatment options together with mind-body therapies, such as meditation and yoga, a treatment plan is developed that uses the least invasive and most cost-effective remedies. Attaining a feeling of well-being is particularly important in situations where cure isn't always possible. Most integrative providers prescribe therapies amenable to scientific investigation. However, patients aren't dissuaded from using specific treatments provided that the proposed remedies are demonstrated to be safe.

See: Yoga Nidra and Meditation benefits for cancer patients

Integrative Medicine Health

Integrative medicine and health reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

Integrative medicine combines modern medicine with established approaches from around the world. By joining modern medicine with proven practices from other healing traditions, integrative practitioners are better able to relieve suffering, reduce stress, maintain the well-being, and enhance the resilience of their patients.

Although the culture of biomedicine is predominant in the U.S., it coexists with many other healing traditions. Many of these approaches have their roots in non-Western cultures. Others have developed within the West, but outside what is considered conventional medical practice.

Various terms have been used to describe the broad range of healing approaches that are not widely taught in medical schools, generally available in hospitals, or routinely reimbursed by medical insurance. Integrative medicine is a term that emphasizes the combination of both conventional and alternative approaches to address the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of health and illness. It emphasizes respect for the human capacity for healing, the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and the patient, a collaborative approach to patient care among practitioners, and the practice of conventional, complementary, and alternative health care that is evidence-based.

The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health membership currently includes over 70 highly esteemed academic medical centers and affiliate institutions.

The mission of the consortium is to advance the principles and practices of integrative healthcare within academic institutions. The Consortium provides it's institutional membership with a community of support for its academic missions and a collective voice for influencing change.

See: Auricular Acupuncture for Mental Health & Alcoholism

References


1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19–22 June 1946; signed on 22 July 1947 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100); and entered into force on 7 April 1948. Constitution of the World Health Organization — Basic Documents, Forty-fifth edition, Supplement, October 2006.  

2. http://iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Quality/IntegrativeMed/SnydermanRalph.pdf  

3.  Vicki Weisfeld. (2009). Summit on Integrative Medicine & The Health of the Public: Issue Background and Overview. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine. Retrieval2011-1-18. http://www.bravewell.org/integrative_medicine/

4. Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona http://www.bravewell.org/integrative_medicine/

5. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/complementary-alternative-medicine/about/pac-20393581

6. UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

7. Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health

See: Acid Reflux Diet for GERD

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