What is Integrative Medicine?

DEFINITIONS

“Integrative Medicine recognises the holistic and unique nature of human-beings, which encompasses physio-energetic information systems. It investigates the multi-factoral causes of dis-ease. In this approach the practitioner and the sick individual form a team working towards an integrated protocol of management best suited for that person.
The priority is to support health using the least invasive and most natural approach; this does not exclude symptomatic treatment of disease, where appropriate.”

SASIM mission statement, April 2006

“Integrated or Integrative Medicine is practising medicine in a way that selectively incorporates elements of Complementary and Alternative medicine into comprehensive treatment plans alongside solidly orthodox methods of diagnosis and treatment.”
British Medical Journal 2001;322:119-120

Integrative Medicine:

  • Is based on a partnership of patient and practitioner, within which conventional and alternative modalities may be used to stimulate the body’s healing response;
  • Shifts the orientation of medicine from one of disease to one of healing;
  • Engages the mind, spirit, and community as well as the body;
  • Neither rejects conventional medicine nor uncritically accepts alternative practices;
  • Is committed to good science that is driven by inquiry and open to new paradigms;
  • Is grounded in the philosophy that prevention is a primary responsibility of medicine and that healing is possible even when curing is not;
  • Works to activate innate, natural healing mechanisms
  • Uses natural, less invasive interventions before costly, invasive ones whenever possible; and
  • Asks that practitioners seek to model health and healing and commit to the process of self-exploration.
  • New terminology of Integrative Medicine includes the following:

Art of medicine

  • Systems
  • Webs
  • Non-linear dynamics
  • Informational systems
  • Patterns
  • Probability dynamics
  • Relationships
  • Complexity
  • Meaning and medicine
  • Order and chaos
  • Intuition and experience

As the philosophy develops and become more sophisticated a newer medicine will emerge which will naturally integrate many aspects of traditional medicine, newer developments in physics and quantum theory and recent advances in nutritional medicine.

THE 3 PILLARS OF INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE

Integrative medicine is not Alternative Medicine or Complementary Medicine. It is really an expansion of the limited conventional medicine as practised today. Conventional medicine has become focused on ‘the disease’ to the exclusion of the person and the dysfunction within the system. This would be equivalent to fixing the part that is broken in a motor car without doing a tune-up or speaking to the driver.

First pillar: Lifestyle Management
Deficiencies in the following aspects of lifestyle comprise the underlying causes of ill-health:

  • Healthy food choices
  • Appropriate and sufficient exercise
  • Appropriate weight-to-height ratio [Body Mass Index]
  • Ability to process and remove toxins from the body
  • Stress management
  • Psycho-spiritual balance

Second pillar: Management of the Underlying Dysfunctions
The dysfunction is not quite the disease yet. Dysfunction precedes the disease just as the motor car getting out of tune precedes the breakdown.
The dysfunction takes on many forms such as insulin resistance, nutrient deficiencies, under- or over-functioning of glands, sympathetic or parasympathetic imbalance, stomach acid too high or too low, immune system imbalance, hormonal dysregulation, pH abnormalities, metabolic disturbances of many kinds, etc.
Integrative Medical doctors will detect and diagnose the dysfunctions and will correct these problems before they manifest as breakdown/disease. Natural products that work well with [rather than against] the body’s own systems, are usually employed to correct the imbalances.

Third pillar: Treatment of Disease
This is often not necessary, as correcting the body’s deficiencies and dysfunctions, allows the body’s own innate healing processes to deal with the ‘disease’. Herbal or homeopathic medicines may be needed at this point to complete the healing. Integrative Medical doctors are also able to use drugs and surgery, to relieve symptoms when appropriate. When these are required the body still needs the support of natural remedies to improve health.

Information provided by Dr B Brom www.creatinghealth.co.za