Integrative medicine

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Integrative Medicine is the practice of combining alternative, complementary and conventional therapies to take advantage of the strengths of each system and to offset their weaknesses. [1] It is an innovative approach to medicine and medical education. It involves the understanding of the interaction of the mind, body and spirit and how to interpret this relationship in the dynamics of health and disease. Integrative medicine shifts the orientation of the medical practice from disease based approach to a healing based approach. It does not reject conventional medicine nor uncritically accepts unconventional practices. Integrative medicine is an effective, more fulfilling human approach to medicine based on the benefit of the patient by following good medicine practices in a scientific manner. [2]


Blending The System of Medicines

The success of Integrative Medicine is the ability of selecting and blending the appropriate systems of medicine, without compromising on the authenticity of each individual system. Apart from having a full fledged knowledge of each system, it is crucial for the holistic physician to have the wisdom and experience in implementing such an integration of systems. When done appropriately, this combination enhances the healing powers of the various approaches. But if in the hands of the less capable, the introduction of another system of medicine could interfere with the efficacy of the main system of medicine decided. [3] Likewise, the selection and incorporation of appropriate Complementary Therapies that will not interfere with the systems of medicines that have been selected, is of utmost importance. The efficacy of treatment is strengthened when an additional emphasis is given to customized lifestyle management.

Philosophical Foundation for Integrative Medicine

The philosophical foundation for the integrative medicine comes from a multitude of different medical and human science traditions. For example, the idea that a person should be treated in his or her wholeness—mind, body and spirit—is a fundamental premise within integrative medicine that has been informed by the patient-centered care movement, holistic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, and the medicine of the ancient Greeks as well as modern humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Prevention, an important aspect of integrative medicine, is grounded in medical science but it also draws from the fields of nutrition, stress management, physical fitness, and environmental health. This "gathering" of human wisdom in an effort to care for individuals in the best way possible is a key factor in why integrative medicine is both effective and desirable. Each person has a significant, innate capacity for healing that can be supported and enhanced, and the primary goal of integrative medicine is to maximize this capacity so that each individual experiences optimal vitality and wellness. [4]

Key Aspects of Integrated Medicine

It is the blending of family practice diagnosis and treatment with health supportive care such as counseling, acupuncture, and bodywork.

It is a multi-disciplinary approach. It uses a variety of services, such as Western and Eastern medicines, as well as natural and pharmaceutical remedies.

It involves lifestyle and the many aspects of our being – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual along with other habits – all important components in your individual health care.

It is the awareness and understanding that how you live, think and act contributes to the person you are and the state of health you are in. The key to Integrated Medicine is to ask,” Why is this problem present in my life, and what is needed for healing to happen?” Not, “What can I take to make it go away?” This moves from the aggressive ‘attack and conquer’ approach to the re-integration and healing of issues, tissues, conflicts, and emotions within us. [5]


  1. Glossary of Medical Philosophy Terms
  2. Integrative medicine: a paradigm shift in medical education and practice$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed
  3. Integrative Medicine & Complementary Therapies
  4. Philosophical Foundation for Integrative Medicine
  5. Four Key Aspects of Integrated Medicine
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