Integrative Medicine

According to the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine (IM) is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.” The Integrative approach to health and wellbeing integrates complementary therapies with conventional medicine. Therefore it will be the focus of our discussion here.

Integrative Medicine

Four Approaches

Integrative Medicine is not the same as “alternative” or even “complementary” medicine. Therefore each of these has its own definition and purpose. There is a lot of information on the internet about each of these types of medical practices. For that reason we will share just a few links that we think are noteworthy. We’ll add along with a brief definition of each type of practice below.

Alternative Medicine 

Alternative Medicine is just that, it is alternate. The patient chooses to forgo conventional medical treatment in favor of an alternative. In contrast to Integrative medicine, alternative doesn’t integrate, rather it isolates and rejects conventional practices. There are many different types for many different ailments. Dr. Skyler Johnson of Yale School of Medicine led a study published in Journal of the National Carncer Institute, that found Alternative Medicine use was associated with 95% greater risk of death compared with conventional cancer treatment. Therefore this approach is not recommended by Cancer Smarter. 

Complimentary Medicine

Complimentary Medicine is when a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine. Complementary practices are used in addition to conventional medicine as a “complement” to established practices. Breastcancer.org has a page titled What Is Complementary Medicine?  This approach isn’t isolated to just breast cancer. Many illness are also treated using complementary medicines.

Conventional Medicine

Conventional Medicine refers to western medicine as we know it today. It is the care you get from medical doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and health care professionals. It is also referred to as Standard Medical care.

Homeopathic Medicine enjoys a large following among the lay community but hasn’t yet become popular with health care professionals. In their paper: Homeopathy and Integrative medicine: keeping an open mind the authors stress that homeopathy “is not acknowledged by academia or included in medical guidelines.” Consequently his approach could be thought of as fitting into both complementary and integrative medicines.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is healing oriented medical practice.  It takes into account the whole patient. This approach “integrates” conventional with complementary medicines. The University of Arizona is leading the way in this approach to wellness and medicine.

Dr. Andrew Weil has a very strong internet presence regarding integrative medicine. His site is expansive, with blogs, recipes, and links to You Tube videos explaining various aspects of his practice. Consequently their page Treating Cancer: Integrative Medicine is probably a great place to begin.

Homeopathic Medicine enjoys a large following among the lay community but hasn’t yet become popular with health care professionals. In their paper: Homeopathy and Integrative medicine: keeping an open mind the authors stress that homeopathy “is not acknowledged by academia or included in medical guidelines.” Consequently this approach maybe thought of as fitting into complementary and integrative medicines.

In contrast, Innovative Medicine has a bit different take on these approaches. They explain the different types of care on their page titled Redefining The meaning Integrative Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health has published a page comparing all three approaches to cancer care. There is a wealth of information here.

Integrative Medicine more widely recognized and utilized across the country and outside the US. The OMICS International has compiled a long list of Global Alternative Health Care Conferences. As a result the conclusion can be drawn that integrating medical treatments from a wide variety of  practices can be beneficial.