Benefits of an Integrative Medical Approach to Health
The concept of Integrative medicine is not new, it’s been addressed for ages across many medical disciplines. Although, there is a recent shift toward recognizing the external, physical and technological successes of curing a patient, with the internal exploration of healing.
The integrative medical approach focuses on healing the whole person, mind and body, in relation to the context and the needs of the person. Integrative medicine makes use of available and indicated therapy approaches that help restore optimal health, striving to cure the disease and illness. One key component of integrative medicine is an informed and empowered patient, who in turn is able to make better choices.
This integrative medical approach sometimes is labeled as ‘hollistic’, and this might scare some people away from it. What it means is that integrative medicine makes use of alterative therapies to treat certain diseases that have their origin in the mind or spirit—but that affect the physical part of the body as well. It can be viewed as medicine that treats the person, not the disease.
The goal of the integrative medical approach is to treat the mind and the body as each of them is an essential component of the human being. Some of the therapies used might seem unconventional—but any therapy used by this type of medicine has evidence to support them. Some of these therapies include herbal medicine, acupuncture, yoga, massages, tai chi and other relaxation techniques such as meditation.
Practitioners of integrative medicine refer to alternative medicine as ‘complementary’, being that is administered in addition to medical treatment.
For the people choosing the integral medical approach, it seems to be more appealing than the traditional approach, where there seems to be a lot of dissatisfaction due to doctors being rushed, overwhelmed; having to fit more patients in a shorter period of time to make ends meet. They do not focus in the person, but in the particular condition to treat; a dermal eruption, chest pains or whatever the illness might be.
Integrative medicine promises more time, more attention and uses tools that are beyond traditional therapies used by medicine; which gives patients more choices and more opportunities to find solutions to their problems.
There is debate in regard to this kind of medicine, due to some therapies not being entirely researched to prove its efficacy in a scientific manner. As a result, some physicians are turned away from complementary medicine, and some patients are resistant to try new alternatives.
Some of these therapies are being tested for safety and effectiveness. One of these techniques, meditation, has been the subject of a number of studies; which try to prove its stress reduction, muscle relaxation and prevention of early child birth properties.
Acupuncture, one of the most popular alternatives used—and which many insurance companies have included in their list of approved therapies, is also the subject of research to find out if the claims of having effects in brain activity, muscle relaxation and pain are in fact true.
Other complementary therapies include administering herbs to patients. In current times, many people avoid taking medications that may have adverse secondary effects, and also doctors may feel the need to find a more natural substitute that may have a similar effect.
Many herbs like kava, ashwaganda (widely used in ayurvedic medicine), St. John’s wort, gotu kola, ginkgo biloba among others, are being used to treat a variety of conditions from depression to ADHD.
A recent study led by the University of California in San Francisco, found that palmetto did not live up to its claims to improve benign prostate hyperplasia. Many patients have used palmetto as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs to treat this condition. This is another question that must be addressed in regard to the integrative medical approach.
This type of medicine doesn’t and will never rely completely in complementary therapies to directly treat or cure any illness. There are many fake therapies in the market that simply mislead patients, the role of integrative medicine is to inform the patient of real therapies that might help their condition, but not to solve it by itself.
Most medical doctors believe that integrative medicine belongs somewhere else than traditional western medicine hospitals, even when the integrative medicine approach simply focuses on helping both body and spirit, which is something most doctors do or should do on a daily basis—the integrative medical approach simply gives them more tools.
The benefits of an integrative medical approach are many, what we think and how we feel inevitably has an effect in our health. Integrative medicine not only focuses on complementing a medical treatment, but there is also a focus in prevention, which is even more important these days—an approach toward prevention helps us to have a better quality of life.
The Integrative medical approach helps us support the body’s ability to heal itself by educating the patient about the benefits of a good nutrition, good supplementation and other activities such as exercise. Our body is rejuvenated and strong, this provides us with resistance against illness.
Stress plays an important role in illness, and many patients who end up in the emergency room have stress related conditions. The Integrative medical approach tries to find solutions that promote a state of relaxation, reducing stress and with it, all disorders that are stress related such as high blood pressure, anxiety, heart disease and depression.
Pain is also a medical condition suffered by many people, it can have its origin in many factors such as surgery, injuries, posture, repetitive movements or it might even have an emotional origin, such as depression. The integrative medical approach doesn’t just treat pain with painkillers, but finds the source of the pain and treats all causes.
Many people suffer from insomnia and the number seems to be increasing, as our world turns more and more chaotic. Integral medicine procures to treat the insomnia but also the many factors surrounding it, such as environment, stressors and nutrition.
In conclusion, the integrative medical approach focuses in treating a patient as a whole—mind and body, as both play a role in the many processes taking place inside our body and it results impossible to cure one without addressing the other.