Integrative medicine is a practice of medicine that focuses on the person as a whole and utilizes several different therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
One of Integrative medicine’s most defining traits is the thoughtful combination of different types of medicine, both conventional and evidence based complementary medicine. Here are examples of both:
- Conventional (traditional Western) medicine, which includes drugs, surgery and lifestyle changes.
- Complementary medicine, therapies that are not part of traditional Western medicine. Care may include chiropractic therapy, yoga, meditation and more.
In addition to the combination of therapies, integrative medicine heavily emphasizes the partnership between patient and practitioner. This is why integrative medicine appointments often last longer than an appointment with a provider using the conventional approach. Here are more of the principles integrative medicine as described by Dr. Andrew Weil, a leading Integrative Medicine physician and teacher:
- Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
- Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body
- A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
- Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
- Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible
- Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease
- Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development.
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