What is integrative medicine?
The short answer is that it’s the future of medicine.
The long answer is that integrative medicine (IM) is a diverse web of healing practices and treatments that complement traditional forms of therapy. It integrates medical, clinical, holistic and extended care practices into a single, organic form of treatment. Embraced by institutions such as The Mayo Clinic and Duke University Medical Center, IM is an evidence-based practice that works with the whole of a patient’s being: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual.
Let’s unpack what that means.
Integrative medicine is not a substitute for traditional medicine. It augments traditional medical practices to deepen the patient’s healing process. Moreover, it views a patient’s condition as the intersection of various factors. For instance, a depressed person with a substance abuse disorder cannot simply be treated for the substance abuse disorder. They must be treated for the depression, too, for a treatment to be fully effective.
Thus, every course of IM requires a bespoke system of treatment. For example, in a rehabilitation setting, a patient may undergo traditional talk therapy treatments every morning. For lunch, a patient would eat a balanced and vitamin rich meal that maximizes whole body health. In the afternoons, the same patient may spend hours cultivating an institution’s healing garden as part of horticultural therapy. In the evening, they might attend a meditation class before breaking out into another round of small-group talk therapies.
Of course, the various components of the day would be tailored to the patient’s needs as assessed by medical professionals. Instead of horticultural therapy in the afternoons, a patient may have a session of NAD+ or a ketamine-based therapy. IM treats the patient and practitioner as partners in the healing process. It seeks to cultivate the patient’s natural healing ability by taking a larger view of the issues at hand.
Essentially, IM hinges on the synergy between different forms of healing. It is always evidence-based. This means that the cutting edge, holisitc therapeutics involved in the process have proven effective in rigorous scientific tests. There is no snake-oil in the process. IM providers are eager to expand the current paradigm of therapy in service of patient healing.