Medicine is cultural and time sensitive – look how it has changed over the millenniums. So called, “gold standard” treatments have evolved through the ages and even over the last 20 years. Modern technology and science has only temporarily shadowed traditional therapies. With the renewed interest in our grandmother’s remedies and our global access to the wisdom of different cultures, an integrative view of medicine is on the rise. I would love to live long enough to become fluent in all of them, or to even know something about each of them, but that is not possible. But it IS possible to incorporate some of the key principles into my practice. Thus is the definition of integrative medicine.
During my doctoral training and my recent research, I have discovered that integrative medicine involves:
A focus on the whole person: the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological states.
Individualized treatment plans tailored to meet the needs of each person.
The understanding that good healing medicine is a partnership between patient and practitioner; with the patient being the chief decision maker.
A primary focus is on preventing illness, improving health, and minimizing disease.
Integration of the best available evidence-based, safe, and ethical therapies from different traditions.
Integrative medicine can improve patient outcomes, by providing effective and compassionate care and healing on multiple levels.
The real challenge with integrative medicine is that it requires being prepared for new ways of thinking. It involves recognizing the advantages AND limitations of both complementary and conventional medicine; along with the potential benefits of combining them. The biggest challenge (mostly to our egos) is adopting a collaborative approach with patients – of course – and other healthcare professionals. One beautiful thing about integrative medicine, is that it fosters the development of intuition, empathy, and compassion for patients, AND practitioners themselves, to: “own your health”; and for all to become role models for the wider community. This takes time…time to establish a relationship with and a holistic understanding of each patient.