How Integrative Medicine is Changing How We Think About Health
Modern medicine has paved ways to health and healing in western civilizations with medications, surgeries, and pharmaceutical innovations. This traditional, or conventional, medicine is most widely used in our society and has led to a surge in the treatment of diseases for the masses. Rather than treating the people with the diseases and the symptoms associated, conventional medicine focuses on curing and treating the diseases themselves.
Holistic, or alternative medicine, focuses on healing the mind and body via meditation, healthy eating changes, homeopathy, and other natural products. Holistic medicine is often accompanied by sideways glances and negative reactions by practitioners of conventional medicine. This is understandably so, when so little information is given to patients suffering from chronic illness as to how these practices could benefit them. Some holistic practices can be harsh or harmful, while others have a place in modern medicine for additional healing.
Those suffering from chronic illnesses who seek out treatments may not find a lot of peace within a conventional medical system. While treatments are focused on healing, the results can be less relaxing and more invasive. This focus on “fixing” the illness while not taking how the person is feeling into consideration can lead to more suffering. Alternative medicines have offered a way to be comfortable and more at peace when treatments for illnesses become invasive. However, not everyone is willing to rely entirely on holistic treatments due to lack of evidence or practitioners engaging in solely holistic care.
For a wide range of illnesses, those who use a complementary approach with both conventional and holistic medicine get the treatment they need medically while also tending to their mental, spiritual, and emotional health as well.
WHAT IS INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE?
There are at least five forms of medicine and health treatment approaches that have developed throughout history in regards to health and healing for those with chronic illness. To get a look at the other forms of medication and where they come from, refer to our blog post covering each approach. We cover each practice in depth in an easy-to-understand format.
In this posting, we will focus on expanding the information about integrative medicine and how it is benefitting how we treat those with chronic illnesses. It is become increasingly popular in the 21st century.
“According to the American Hospital Association, the percentage of U.S.
hospitals that offer complementary therapies has more than doubled in less than a decade, from 8.6% in 1998 to almost 20% in 2004. Another 24% of hospitals said they planned to add complementary therapies in the future.” –WebMD
Integrative medicine provides a combination of these two forms of medicine to form a well-rounded approach to health and dealing with illness for a wide variety of patients. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, a leading authority in the realm of integrative medicine,
“Integrative medicine is the intelligent combination between conventional and alternative medicine.”
This health approach is about trying to restore health practices for both the mind and body, the whole person, rather than only the illness itself. Integrative medicine emphasizes a positive practitioner and patient relationship, enriching the treatment process through compassion and care. The personalized care provided by the physician helps establish a positive mindset for treating the individual and the symptoms they are experiencing with their illness. This restorative approach to health and healing has been implemented in medical schools and hospitals all across the nation.
WHO CAN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE HELP?
Integrative medicine can help a wide range of people suffering from both chronic and acute conditions:
-Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) -Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
-Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) -Arnold-Chiari malformation and Syringomelia
-Cachexia/wasting syndrome -Cancer
-Causalgia -Crohn’s disease
-Dystonia -Fibromyalgia (severe)
-Fibrous dysplasia -Glaucoma
-Hepatitis C -Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
-Hydrocephalus -Interstitial Cystitis
-Lupus -Multiple Sclerosis
-Muscular dystrophy -Seizures
…and many, many others
HOW DOES INTEGRATIVE CARE WORK?
In a study done by The Bravewell Collaborative, a group formed by philanthropists dedicated to transforming medicine, 29 integrative medicine centers and programs across the nation were chosen to participate in a study regarding their integrative medical care. Each of the centers “were chosen on the basis of length of time in operation (a minimum of three years), patient volume, and/or prior clinical contributions to the field.”
- Among many major findings, “The care patients receive is individualized.
- 27 centers (93%) create a unique health plan for their patients
- 26 centers (90%) involve the family in patient care”
- “From a list of 20 clinical conditions, respondents chose the top five for which they perceive integrative medicine to be most successful at their centers. These are, in descending order:
- Chronic pain
- Gastrointestinal conditions
This study is an informational look at the beneficial effects of integrative health care on individuals with chronic illnesses as well as their families. The study also shows the statistics of how integrative care incorporates a variety of practices to help each individual patient.
“Integrative medicine addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.”-The Bravewell Collaborative Study
Read more about this study in-depth via this document for a better understanding of the strides integrative medicine is making across the United States.
The integrative medicine approach to health and healing is an important up and coming approach for bettering the medical system and treating people rather than the illnesses they have. Our integrative primary services give each individual their own personalized program to ensure the greatest success.