Integrative Medicine focuses on patients’ overall health, not only the physical health. Many times when physical health is improved, mental health is also improved.
Integrative Medicine focuses on health and healing and away from disease symptom management. It emphasizes whole person medicine meaning targeting mind, body, spirit and brain. It looks at all aspects of life style.
It’s a combination of evidence-based therapy choosing the best interventions that works best for that individual with minimum invasiveness and harm. Integrative Medicine provides your clinician with many tools to address your mental health needs. It includes life style changes like exercise, improving diet/nutrition, and adding supplements. It is not the exclusion of western medicine rather it is an add on. The Integrative Medicine strives to understand the “why of the diagnosis as well as the what?”. For instance if you have a diagnosis of depression, your clinician looks at why you have depression. Is there inflammation in your body that prevents the production of serotonin? Is there nutritional deficiency that prevents the production of certain neurotransmitters? Are you too toxic? Are you too stressed out?
The Integrative medicine doctor approaches your health from an expanded view of connectivity. Your doctor looks at whether or not you are exercising, are stressed, your nutrition, quality of your relationships, spirituality, etc.
The Difference between Alternative Medicine and Integrative Medicine
The two are complimentary. Alternative medicine implies an alternative treatment to conventional pharmaceutical treatment. For example, an alternative treatment for migraine could be meditation or biofeedback which means that you do not need to take the medication because there are other ways of treating migraine. Whether it’s migraine headaches or stress or sometimes indigestion, insomnia, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, there are many alternative medicine approached to treat these conditions instead of just taking medication.
Integrative Medicine on the other hand mean that you are using conventional treatment but integrating it with the lifestyle and mind-body approaches so you can have integrated treatment. For instance, a cancer patient who is incorporating chemotherapy ad integrative techniques including mind-body interaction, meditation, message, music therapy etc,. These approaches are being used to mitigate the side effects of the chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine includes lifestyle approaches such as diet, nutritional assessment, stress management, exercise and often herbs that act as adaptogen. Adaptogens means that these herbs mitigate the effects of stress at a cellular level. There are many other things that are used like acupuncture, acupressure, hypnotherapy and transracial therapy, etc. All of these can alleviate in many cases the side effects of pharmaceuticals and drugs and also expedite recovery.