Western medicine, over the course of its development, has not only separated the mind from the body when considering treatment, but has further fragmented the body into organs, with a “specialist” appointed to take care of each.
Even as scientific knowledge about how our minds and bodies work — and how these different systems interact — has improved, the overall health of the population has declined, with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. At the same time the cost of care has skyrocketed and is now considered unsustainable.
Integrative medicine is an approach to care that takes into account the full range of physical, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health, and which leverages the full spectrum of therapeutic responses that have been shown to be effective in creating and maintaining good health.
Integrative medicine is not the same as “alternative medicine,” which refers to any approach to healing that is utilized in place of conventional therapies, nor is it “complementary medicine,” which refers to healing modalities that are used to complement allopathic approaches.
The defining principles of integrative medicine are:
• The patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
• All factors that influence health, wellness and disease are taken into consideration, including body, mind, spirit and community.
• Providers use all healing sciences to facilitate the body’s innate healing response.
• Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive are used whenever possible.
• Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry driven and open to new paradigms.
• Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
• The care is personalized to best address the individual’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances.