Integrative Medicine: Three Things You Need to Know

Integrative Medicine

Many people have heard about integrative medicine, but are unfamiliar with what it means. If you are interested in learning more, here are three important things you need to know: 

Integrative medicine is a healing-oriented medicine.

Integrative medicine considers the whole person – body, mind, spirit and lifestyle. It focuses on the needs, values and well-being of the person, rather than the disease alone. It is a philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically, and employs the use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible. It uses all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative, while paying close attention to research findings and safety. Integrative medicine recognizes that good medicine should be based in good science and be open to new models of care. Additionally, integrative medicine trains practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development. Integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine, which refers to an approach to healing that is utilized in place of conventional therapies, or complementary medicine, which refers to healing modalities that are used to complement allopathic approaches.

Integrative medicine enhances conventional medical care. 

Conventional medical care gives us options in treating a disease and its symptoms. Disease is understood to be the result of physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental imbalance. Healing takes place naturally when these aspects of life are brought into proper balance. Integrative medicine emphasizes the healing which can occur whether or not the disease is cured, giving people the ability to achieve high levels of health and wellness. The role of the provider is as guide, mentor and role model. The patient must do the work – changing lifestyle, beliefs and old habits in order to facilitate healing. All appropriate methods may be used, from medication to meditation.

Integrative medicine gives patients additional resources for: 

  • The management of chronic diseases such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, while reducing the use of medications
  • The management of chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue
  • Evidence-based information on nutritional supplements and herbs, while avoiding harmful interactions with conventional therapies
  • Mind-body techniques to ease stress and alleviate pain
  • Referrals to holistic practitioners in the community
  • And much more...

Srivani Sridhar, MD, is a family & integrative holistic medicine physician at SwedishAmerican's Woodside clinic in Rockford.