What makes integrative medicine different from conventional medicine?
We’ve always been taught that one of the basic laws of nature is “survival of the fittest”. How this often works out is the process of an organism taking everything it has to work with and optimizing its potential for growth and strength. That is exactly what integrative medicine advocates; combining conventional medical treatments with programs focused on wellness, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness and a wide variety of other appropriate healing methods.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of integrative medicine is its basic premise of seeking to treat the whole person and not simply eliminate symptoms. Unfortunately, this is definitely at odds with our current state of healthcare that has employees of insurance companies making decisions about treatment plans. There is hope that this will change, if for no other reason than the fact that overall patient wellness, which is a natural result of integrative medical practices, will also be healthy for the insurer’s bottom line.
While there have always been those who turned to alternative methods of healthcare because of their individual values and belief systems, there has been a growing realization that having to choose between options is limiting. The recognition of the wisdom of a “whole person” approach has gained momentum and more and more people are seeking out practitioners who evaluate their patients individually and then make their recommendations based on a wide variety of methods.
Integrative Medicine Is Not Complementary or Alternative Medicine
Complementary medicine and alternative medicine, or CAM when talking about both of them, are not the same as integrative medicine. Rather, all of the different practices that make up these broader umbrella terms are components of integrative medicine. Along with the latest state-of-the-art, conventional medical treatments, integrative medical practitioners have a wide variety of healing practices to choose from, some dating back before recorded history. A partial list of these include:
- animal-assisted therapy
- biofield therapies, like reiki, healing touch, qigong, and polarity therapy
- dietary supplements
- music therapy
- nutritional counseling
- visualization or guided imagery
Conventional healthcare professionals have generally operated under the “disease model” of medicine. Most of the time, they would not see their patients until they were already sick or hurt. Integrative medicine practitioners treat illness and injury, also, but their primary focus is on wellness and the prevention of disease and injury. They do this by taking into account, not just physical stressors but also what may be affecting the patient mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
How to Choose an Integrative Medicine Practitioner
Unless you have a recommendation from someone who knows you and whose opinion you trust, it’s never easy choosing a new doctor. Or a new massage therapist or yoga instructor. The best advice is to start where you are with a current physician or practitioner and see if they will recommend someone.
Next, just do your homework. Ask questions and talk to those you are considering until you get a feel for whether they would be a good fit. If you are interviewing a conventional MD and they are dismissive about the possible benefits of massage or acupuncture, that’s a pretty good clue that “integrative” is not going to be a strong point. The same holds for someone who is an advocate of the healing properties of essential oils and believes that they are all you will ever need, no matter what the issue is.
Once you have narrowed down potential candidates, ask about their education, experience and credentialing. Anyone with a problem or attitude about providing that information will have just made it easy to cross them off of your list.
The process of finding the right integrative medicine practitioner may take some time and effort, but we’re talking about your health. Isn’t it worth it?
The Southern California Center for Anti-Aging focuses on the practice of advanced, preventive and regenerative medicine. We strongly believe correcting imbalances and deficiencies in nutrition, along with improving fitness and balancing and restoring hormones with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, can help with creating the foundation for a healthier and happier life. To learn more about our holistic approach or if you have questions about any of our services, take advantage of our Free Consultation by clicking here to use our convenient online form.