Integrative Medicine (IM) is the practice of medicine that focuses on the whole person and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
Integrative medicine is based upon a model of health and wellness, as opposed to a model of disease. It combines state-of-the-art, conventional medical treatments and additional therapies that are shown to be effective and safe. The goal is to unite the best that conventional medicine has to offer with other healing and therapy derived from cultures and ideas both old and new.
Many people mistakenly use the term integrative medicine interchangeably with the terms complementary medicine and alternative medicine, also known collectively as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. While integrative medicine is not synonymous with CAM, CAM therapies do make up an important part of integrative medicine.
For example, CAM therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery are increasingly integrated into today’s conventional treatment of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Scientific evidence also supports this approach to health and healing and is used by many doctors around the world.
An integrative medicine doctor, or IMM Doctor, is a primary care physician who has completed advanced training in the field of complementary and alternative therapies. He/she might also hold additional degrees such as an M.D., D.O., NMD (naturopathic medical degree), Psy.D., etc…
Other types of doctors who practice integrative medicine include:
• Oncologist: Treats cancer.
• Cardiologist: Heart disease.
Integrative medicine is a form of healthcare that takes the best aspects from traditional methods and modern alternative practices. It involves utilizing many different types of therapies, including natural ones in preference to more conventional treatments. IM encourages healthy behaviors and skills that will be necessary for the patient as they follow through with the self-care techniques needed to remain disease-free for the rest of their lives.
While functional medicine focuses on creating individualized therapies tailored to treat underlying causes of illness, integrative medicine seeks to understand the individual as a whole and applies many forms of therapy to improve wellness. This may include everything from acupuncture to homeopathy.
Holistic medicine is an approach to healthcare that seeks to address the bigger picture. It’s characterized by believing in a body’s interconnectedness and not just its individual parts or systems. It also focuses on how they work together with other aspects of your life, mind, spirit, emotions all have some bearing on physical wellbeing too!
Integrative medicine focuses on treating specific conditions while holistic medicine adheres to a more general philosophy of health. Integrative doctors are concerned with diagnosing disease, whereas holistic practitioners focus on wellness and prevention rather than treatment.
IM doctors treat a wide range of health problems including autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders, digestive disorders (such as irritable bowel syndrome), mental health issues, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more.
IM doctors frequently work in conjunction with conventional physicians or other medical specialists to provide the best possible care for each patient. This may mean that you would see your IM doctor only occasionally (for acute conditions) while seeing another specialist on a regular basis (for conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
Integrative medicine is not more expensive than conventional medical care. In fact, many healthcare plans cover integrative therapies or will reimburse patients for the cost of these treatments on a regular basis.
A wide range of complementary and alternative medical treatments are used by IM doctors. Integrative medicine can help people with cancer, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and many other conditions better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life by reducing fatigue, pain, and anxiety. Examples of common practices include:
While IM doctors are not listed in the same way that conventional physicians are, it is still possible to find one. Our office in Clarendon Hills, IL is located in DuPage County. If you do not live locally, look through listings for complementary and alternative medical practitioners such as naturopaths or chiropractors in your area to see if any specialize in integrative medicine. If you have Medicare, Medicaid, or an HMO insurance plan that offers reimbursement for IM therapies, there are also organizations that can help you locate a doctor in your area. Another good place to start is the American Association of Integrative Medicine.
One of the best ways to learn about IM is by visiting our website or talking with your physician. If they aren’t open to it already, be sure to let them know just how much alternative treatments mean to you and ask if they would consider having some sort of dual-therapy sessions with complementary medical professionals if available. If this isn’t possible then consider getting a referral from another healthcare provider who specializes in natural healing techniques like massage therapists or acupuncturists. Integrative medicine is a natural and non-invasive form of treatment that can help people with many different conditions to heal, feel better and maintain their health by adopting healthier lifestyles for the long term.
You should always consult your doctor before starting any new course of treatment, especially if you have an existing medical condition. Integrative medicine isn’t right for everyone so it’s important to keep this in mind when talking about alternative therapies with your physician so they are aware of all options available to you.