Integrative medicine [IM] is a form of alternative medicine in which conventional medicine and CAM treatments are used together to treat the same condition. Integrative medicine was founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, who said that he began practicing integrative medicine when he became frustrated with the way that contemporary medical doctors were too quick to prescribe drugs and perform surgery without taking enough time to treat their patients and understand the wider determinants of health and wellness. Integrative medicine advocates for a broader definition of health and wellness; it recognizes that good mental, emotional, social, spiritual and environmental states are all important determinants of health along with physical factors such as diet and exercise. Integrative medicine also differs from conventional medicine because it does not reject eastern medical practices such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture.
Integrative medicine has found a way to integrate these therapies into conventional western medicine through strategies like guided imagery, which encourages people to think about their bodies healing themselves by imagining scenes in which they are healthy and whole once again. Integrative health is intended to be holistic; it’s about finding ways to treat the whole person rather than just their symptoms. Integrative therapies range from conventional medical practices that have been shown to include more patient education and support, to new treatments that are still being tested through randomized clinical trials. Integrative medicine is also used as a teaching tool in medical schools, where doctors learn how to properly integrate the best of conventional medicine with other treatment options. Integrative medicine has shown promise in helping people cope with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. It may consist of or include a wide range of practices, products and therapies – both existing and newly invented. Alternative medicine or fringe medicine are not part of biomedicine because they do not adhere to the scientific method. Integrative medicine is an alternative medicine but it does adhere to the scientific method. Integrative medicine uses conventional treatments together with alternative medical treatment methods that are not part of biomedicine. Integrative medicine asserts that good health is achieved and maintained by putting the patient first in all decisions made about their care. Integrative medicine also shares many practices with conventional forms of alternative medicine, but it’s believed to be different because integrative medicine also includes some aspects of conventional medicine.
Holistic medicine is the combination of conventional and alternative medicine. Integrative therapy is a form of holistic therapy. Integrative therapy allows patients to choose the type of treatment that they feel most comfortable with, and combines conventional and complementary therapies for treating an individual’s whole person; spirit, mind and body. Integrative therapies are used to treat many different conditions such as allergies, thyroid issues, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases and mood disorders. Integrative medicine is used in all four of the major sectors of health care in the United States: private practice, hospitals, nursing homes and preventive care centers.
Learn more on Madison Integrative Medicine’s website.