What is Integrative medicine?
Discover how integrative medicine doctors can combine mainstream western medicine and alternative practices to enhance your health. According to the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics), more than 30 percent of American adults report using healthcare approaches not typically associated with traditional medication. Doctors are also using evidence-based alternative and complementary therapies, often combining them with mainstream treatments to treat disease and maintain health — an approach known as integrative medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical care practices that traditionally haven’t been part of traditional medicine. As evidence of efficacy and safety increases, these treatments are being combined with traditional medicine. Therefore, the term alternative was dropped and replaced with newer conditions, such as complementary and integrative medicine, integrative medicine and health, or only integrative medicine.
Examples of integrative medicine approaches
Exactly what’s deemed integrative medicine? This constantly changes as new remedies are studied and continue into everyday practice. Let us take a look at how they are classified by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
– Natural products
– Mind and body practices
– Other integrative approaches
– Natural products: Dietary supplements and herbal remedies are thought to be natural products as they are made from natural ingredients. Examples of herbal remedies include ginger, ginseng, ginkgo, and echinacea; cases of dietary supplements include glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin, and SAMe. Herbal products and supplements are available in many forms, like oils, teas, syrups, powders, capsules, and pills.
– Mind and body practices: Mind-body techniques strengthen the way your mind and the body tend to work together. Research now shows that these must be in harmony for you to remain healthy. Examples of mind-body techniques include yoga, music, meditation, prayer, relaxation, and animal-assisted therapy.
– Manipulation and body-based practices utilize human touch to move or control a particular part of the body. They include and massage and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
– Some traditions believe invisible energy flows through your body, and if this energy flow is blocked or out of balance, you may get sick. This energy is known by different names, such as chi, prana, and life force. The objective of these therapies is to replenish or re-balance your energy force. Some of the energy therapies include qi gong, acupuncture, healing touch, and Reiki.
Other integrative approaches
Other approaches to integrative wellness focus on a system, as opposed to simply one practice or remedy. These systems center on a philosophy, like the power of nature or the existence of energy within your body. Examples include:
– Historical healing systems. These healing systems existed centuries before traditional Western medicine. They include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda from India.
– Naturopathy. This strategy focuses on noninvasive treatments to help your body do its own healing. It utilizes several practices, such as acupuncture, massage, herbal remedies, exercise, and lifestyle counseling.
Integrative medicine research
Research and evidence on integrative approaches continue to grow as the use of these treatments becomes more prevalent. Researchers want to identify safe, effective therapies in addition to those that provide no benefit and may even cause injury. Generally speaking, there was a lack of research because large, carefully controlled clinical studies are pricey. Trials for traditional therapies are often funded by large companies that develop and sell drugs. Fewer resources are available to encourage trials of integrative approaches. That is why NCCIH was created — to foster research into treatments typically not associated with traditional medicine and make the findings available to the general public.
Why Integrative Medicine can help
Integrative medicine helps people with persistent pain, chronic fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia, and a number of other conditions to manage their symptoms better and improve their quality of life by reducing fatigue, anxiety, and pain. Examples of common practices include:
– Animal-assisted treatment
– Dietary supplements
– Massage therapy
– Music therapy
Integrative Medicine Risks
The remedies promoted in integrative medicine aren’t substitutes for traditional medical care. They should be used in concert with regular medical therapy.
Certain therapies and products aren’t recommended at all or not suggested for certain conditions or individuals. The NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) is a great reference tool for exploring a therapy you are contemplating. It is critical to consult with your medical care provider before trying something new.
How to find integrative medicine doctors near you
Integrative medicine practitioners provide care that combines modern medical approaches with proven integrative medicine therapies. Whether you wish to manage a severe illness that hasn’t yet been fixed by medications or is seeking an ayurvedic treatment or a therapeutic massage, the purpose is to give the partnership and resources you want to optimize your general health and well-being. There are many integrative-minded doctors and medical care professionals almost everywhere. An integrative medicine practitioner approaches the body as an energy system, which is intimately influenced by beliefs and thoughts. Many other healthcare professionals besides M.D.’s and D.O.’s (doctors of osteopathic medicine) who are trained in various areas also share this approach.
There are many certifications for holistic physicians, as each specific modality has different degrees and certifications. An Acupuncturist, an ayurvedic practitioner, and an herbologist will have various accreditations. Outside of technical fields, here are some general levels you can search for:
· Medical Doctor (M.D.): A physician who first went through conventional medical school. If they now have an integrative or functional medicine practice, they then included education and training in this region. They will have maximum flexibility in ordering tests and prescribing drugs.
· Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.): This credential is that of a physician who, like an M.D., has a broad assortment of services they can provide and are even able to become surgeons. They take a “whole person” approach to medicine, so while they can prescribe drugs, they generally take a holistic approach to recovery.
· Nurse Practitioner (N.P.): Nurse professionals, in many ways, have similar skills as physicians. They can own and operate their clinics and may also prescribe medications. However, they are often more open to alternative therapies than conventional M.D.’s.
· Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.): While physicians are usually thought of as people who primarily treat spinal distress, they’re also able to practice functional medicine. They can’t prescribe medications and typically have a medical physician they work with or recommend if you will need a traditional treatment.
· Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.): These physicians use a system of remedies that prevent surgery and drugs, highlighting more natural methods (prescription and licensing rights vary by state).
Ayurveda as an integrative therapy
Vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians ) will spend time assessing a patient’s overall health and endurance. This can include a detailed assessment of which organ systems are functioning appropriately versus which ones are weak. Deficiencies may be inherent or acquired, involving both mind and body. A comprehensive evaluation of mental status and the level of life-energy (prana) is performed. An understanding of a person’s constitution is realized before any personalized treatment protocol is developed.
Acupuncture as an integrative therapy
Acupuncture aims to identify restoring the body’s natural healing abilities. Acupuncture involves putting very thin needles into specific points on the body to affect and restore the body’s energy flow to help the body naturally heal itself. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is connected to the belief that disease is brought on by disruptions to the flow of energy (known as qi in Chinese) from the body. The acupuncturist places whisper-thin needles to the arms, back, neck, and other areas in which the chi (or energy flow) was blocked. The acupuncture needles stimulate points on or beneath the skin called acupuncture points or acupressure points, releasing this qi. These pathways — known as “meridians” — become re-stimulated from the needles to bring healing and blood to the body. In Western medicine, acupuncture has been demonstrated to alleviate pain and help provide relief and healing from painful symptoms related to everything from headaches to asthma to cancer. Western medicine sees the use of these needles as a way to stimulate the body’s nervous system, thereby alerting recovery.
There are lots of proven health benefits of acupuncture if you are seeking short-term relief or need help with a chronic health condition. This alternative healing is probably why millions of adults nationally get acupuncture treatments every year. Acupuncture can help speed the body’s natural healing process, too, provides pain relief. It also offers positive effects on mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to be effective in helping cancer patients manage the side effects of traditional treatment like chemotherapy and radiation. Based on results from Cancer.gov, it helps to reduce pain, fatigue, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting, xerostomia (dry mouth), neuropathy (nervous system problems), anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a type of health bodywork, often known as energy work, that originated in Japan. Reiki practitioners provide this traditional healing technique to manipulate the flow of energy throughout the customer’s body. Reiki uses minimal pressure, focusing on stimulating energy flow as opposed to working the soft tissue and muscles. This movement of energy is done to improve mental, physical, and psychological wellness. Reiki is well known for its stress relief and capacity to ease tension. Besides, it can enhance mental clarity, release stress and anxiety, manage pain, or assist with spiritual growth. It’s said that Reiki practitioners function as a station for a universal life force to help encourage a customer’s natural ability to heal.
Work with your physician.
Integrative medicine expands the conventional focus on symptoms and disease to incorporate your entire potential for wellness. It shifts the emphasis from establishing what is incorrect in finding out how to live better through profound and long-lasting health practices. Integrative medicine expands the treatment spectrum to add choices that reflect a mind-body-spirit perspective. For any clinical concern or need, an integrative approach may comprise ancient traditions like Chinese medicine and acupuncture in addition to modern forms of restoring equilibrium like functional medication, mindfulness training, and nourishment. Work together with your conventional medical doctor to make informed decisions about integrative medicine. Even if your physician can’t recommend a particular practitioner, they can assist you in understanding possible risks and benefits before you attempt a therapy. It’s particularly important to consult your physician if you’re pregnant, have medical problems, or take prescription medication. And do not stop or change your conventional therapy – like the dose of your prescription drugs – without talking to your physician first.