Integrative medicine is a patient-centered medical practice of all persons using evidence-based and experience-based therapies. Integrative medicine combines a range of disciplines, including Western alternative and conventional medical therapies, to ensure safe and effective health care.
Integrative medicine practitioners see patients as partners and work closely with you to ensure you are getting the treatments you need. Integrative medicine addresses many factors, including the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.
In addition to providing treatments that address immediate health concerns, integrative medicine focuses on broader health concepts (including a healthy lifestyle) that promote a person’s overall health and well-being now and in the future.
What It Includes
Integrative medicine places an emphasis on the practitioner-patient relationship and is based on a model of focus on health and well-being, rather than on a model of disease. By personalizing care for each individual, integrative medicine treats more than the symptoms.
Together, you and your practitioner address the causes of an illness, including biological, psychosocial, environmental, and behavioral factors, as well as prevention. The integrative medicine approach addresses your immediate health needs as well as other factors that affect your health and long-term well-being.
Integrative medicine practitioners integrate the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in addition to conventional treatments. CAM therapies are used only if they are proven to be effective, safe and appropriate for a person’s individual health condition.
Evidence-based CAM therapies often used with conventional medical care include:
- Functional medicine
- Directed images
- Natural supplements
- Therapeutic massage
During your first visit with an integrative medicine practitioner, your health history will be reviewed and you will explore the root causes of your illness to better understand how emotional, physical, social, spiritual and environmental factors may contribute to your concerns. health Me
You will work closely with your practitioner to develop a personalized well-being plan based on your immediate health needs. You will also be encouraged to develop healthy behaviors and self-care skills that you can use throughout your life to meet and maintain your long-term health goals.
Integrative treatment does not replace the care you receive from your primary care physician. Instead, it complements existing treatments prescribed by your primary care and specialty providers. Once you meet with an integrative medicine practitioner, they will send your top provider a summary of your visit and a list of recommended therapies.
In some cases, an integrative practitioner may be the lead provider, depending on their professional training and the licensing requirements of the jurisdiction.
Any suggested natural remedies and complementary therapies included in your personalized welfare plan should not interfere with any of the traditional remedies you have been prescribed. They instead aim to maximize your body’s potential for healing along with every other treatment you are receiving.
Integrative medicine encourages people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being when working in partnership with their own healthcare professionals and on their own.
If you are interested in receiving integrated medical care, check with your insurance provider to determine what costs will be covered. Some insurance companies do not cover complementary and alternative therapies used in integrative medicine, while others cover certain treatments, such as acupuncture and some mental body therapies.
Training and Certification
In addition to being fully educated and accredited in their profession / specialty, physicians can be certified in integrative medicine. The American Board of Medical Specialties offers a certification of integrative medicine through the American Board of Integrative Medicine.
Completion of board certification indicates that the practitioner has proven knowledge and experience in integrating medical practices. It also reflects the physician’s commitment to adhere to the Code of Medical Ethics.
At this time, certification in integrative medicine is voluntary. The certification proves that the practitioners are knowledgeable in this field and gives them the recognition that they have met the required standards of achievement.
Types of Integrative Medicine Professionals
Integrative medicine practitioners include professionals from many disciplines — physicians, nurses, osteopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, mental health professionals, mental body specialists, massage therapists, and practitioners of complementary therapies such as reiki and acupuncture.
The educational and accreditation requirements for these professions vary greatly, as does the regulation of these specialties.
If you are looking for an integrative medicine practitioner, look for someone who is fully accredited in their specialty and transparent about their experiences and their belief system. For example, do they believe in the mind-body-soul connection that underlies integrative medicine?
Integrative medicine practitioners see their patients not only as partners, but are also willing to work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals responsible for your care.
Part of what makes integrative medicine so unique is the sharing of information among healthcare professionals who are meeting the needs of each patient. Research shows that interprofessional collaboration can improve patient outcomes.
Integrative medicine therapies are used to treat many health conditions and diseases, including:
- Chronic pain
- Headache / migraine
- Heart dissases
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
Integrative medicine is growing in popularity in health care settings across the United States as more people become interested in more holistic, individualized approaches to healing. Many hospitals have tried integrative medicine programs and investigated the impact that integrative medicine has on patient care.
A number of reviews and clinical trials have shown positive results for patients and providers participating in integrative medicine programs.
Researchers are exploring the benefits of integrative medicine for several conditions and situations, including pain management, symptom relief for cancer patients and survivors, and programs that promote healthy behaviors to maintain long-term health.
People have been practicing medicine all over the world for thousands of years. History tells us that new medical interventions have often been a mixture of old traditions with innovations in societies around the world. In that way, integrative medicine has been practiced informally by humans for many years.
Some practitioners more formally adopted integrative medicine in the early 1990s. In 1994, the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine was established, with a primary focus on physician education in integrative medicine.
The Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health was developed in 2004 to promote policies and actions to advance integrated health care throughout the United States. Today, integrative medicine is an internationally recognized movement in medicine.
A Word From Verywell
People turn to integrative medicine to treat their health conditions for a variety of reasons.
Some choose integrative medicine because they want to integrate complementary therapies with the traditional western medicine treatments they receive. Others prefer a holistic approach to caring for their own health, and consider integrative medicine to be more in line with their beliefs in treating the whole person rather than just one illness / medical condition. Still others prefer the personalized approach to care offered by integrative medicine.
As integrative medicine continues to grow in popularity, research shows promising evidence that integrative medicine can provide effective, safe, and cost-effective treatments and prevent future illness in patients by promoting overall well-being.
Patients who have participated in integrative medicine report that they have established positive, caring relationships with health care providers who have promoted their care and well-being. They also report high overall satisfaction with their experiences.