What Is Integrative Medicine?Integrative medicine incorporates a holistic-care approach that focuses on the whole, unique individual. It addresses a full range of mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental stimuli that influence our overall health. Integrative medicine is based on the definition of the word health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Integrative medicine goes past merely treating symptoms by providing personalized care and addressing all causes of an illness. Rather than focus on “the absence of disease,” this approach focuses on feeling your best and optimizing your overall health. The process of integrative medicine accounts for your imminent health needs, long-term effects of treatment, and complex interplay between behavioral, biological, environmental, and psychosocial influences. Using a personalized approach that incorporates the patient’s needs, conditions, and circumstances, integrative medicine allows healthcare providers to offer the most appropriate healing techniques. Drawing from various scientific disciplines, our experts at Chicago Rehab Center utilize integrative medicine in order to treat disease and illness and help you maintain optimal health. Our evidence-based and personalized approach to addiction and mental health involves passionate doctors, clinicians, and holistic practitioners who focus on health optimization that facilitates whole-person healing.
The Defining Principles of Integrative MedicineHere are some of the leading principles that make up the concept of integrative medicine:
- All elements that affect disease, health, and wellness are considered, including body, mind, spirit, and community.
- Both practitioner and patient are partners in the recovery process.
- Integrative medicine neither accepts alternative therapies nor rejects conventional medicine uncritically.
- Effective and productive interventions that are natural and less invasive (or non-invasive entirely) are utilized whenever possible.
- Proper use of both alternative and conventional methods enables the body’s innate healing response.
- Effective medication is grounded in sound science. It is investigation-driven and open to new paradigms.
- Integrative medicine practitioners must embody its principles and commit themselves to self-development and self-exploration.
- Besides the notion of treatment, the more significant concepts of preventing illness and health promotion are paramount in integrative medicine.
Benefits of Integrative MedicineHere are a few of the many health benefits of integrative medicine:
- It is healing-oriented like the ancient healing systems of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine rather than illness/disease-focused.
- Integrative medicine focuses on all facets of a patient’s life – from body, mind, and spirit to the surrounding environment.
- Integrative medicine provides personalized care rather than following a routine or standard approach.
- Integrative medicine utilizes all appropriate therapies that are least invasive and cost-effective.
What is the Difference Between Integrative Medicine, Complementary Medicine, and Alternative Medicine?People often use integrative medicine, complementary medicine, and alternative medicine interchangeably, but these three concepts are vastly different.
- Integrative medicine refers to incorporating complementary medicine approaches into traditional healthcare practices.
- Complementary medicine uses a non-mainstream practice combined with traditional medicine.
- Alternative medicine uses a non-mainstream practice in place of conventional treatment.
What Alternative or Complementary Treatments Fall Under Integrative Medicine?While there are a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that can be utilized in combination with traditional medicinal treatments, the key to getting the most out of integrative health is to pursue therapies proven to be the most effective, safe, and appropriate for you. There are a variety of therapies and treatments that fall under the umbrella of being considered “integrated medicine.” Some of the most commonly used ones include: Conventional Alternative Medicine – This field comprises the more accepted and mainstream forms of treatment, such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and Chinese practices. For centuries these treatments have been practiced worldwide due to their effective results. Conventional alternative medicine can involve:
- Chinese medicine
- Electromagnetic therapy
- Osteopathic and chiropractic medicine
- Tai Chi
- Body movement therapies
- Herbal medicine
- Dietary supplements
- Visualization and guided imagery
- Art, dance, and music
- Reduced cravings
- Repaired cells throughout the body
- Improved brain function
- Reduced withdrawal symptoms
- Boosted mood
- Increased ability to focus
- Improved memory
Specific Medical Conditions Treated Through Integrative MedicineHere are a few of the many medical and clinical conditions that can be treated with the help of integrative medicine:
- Chronic pain – integrative medicine can relieve medical conditions (neck and back pain, regional pain, headaches, nerve injury pain, etc.) that have not responded well to traditional treatments.
- Gastrointestinal issues – these can range from gastrointestinal disorders and diseases to digestive problems such as gas and heartburn.
- Headaches – this can involve cluster headaches, tension-type headaches, and migraines.
- Anxiety – one of the most common reactions to stress and can be mildly unsettling or severely debilitating.
- Depression – a persistent and sometimes severe psychological condition that adversely affects how individuals think, feel, and behave.
- Women’s health issues – this can include infertility, urinary problems, menopause, nausea, and vomiting during pregnancy.
- Infertility – a reproductive disorder or disease that fundamentally prevents a man or woman from conceiving, impregnating, or carrying a child.
- Musculoskeletal and joint pain – typically caused by an injury or overuse of the bones, muscles, joints, nerves, tendons, or ligaments.
- Stress management – integrative medicine is highly effective in dealing with stress caused by illnesses, work, or any other facet of life.
- Fatigue – this can include lethargy and tiredness caused by a medication, disease, or even for unknown reasons.
- Smoking habit or substance use treatment – numerous integrative therapies can help fight nicotine and other cravings.
- Stress-related neurological problems – integrative treatments such as meditation classes, yoga, and art therapies can do wonders to treat stress-related neurological disorders.
Why Do Many Patients Prefer Integrative Medicine Care?According to research, many people turn to alternative healthcare because they believe it to be more aligned with their values, philosophies, and beliefs regarding life and health. Many patients prefer the personal, customized care that comes with integrated medicine’s holistic perspective. Additionally, some people think that it is only logical to integrate health strategies into their lives from the broadest range of proven treatments and approaches. They believe that an integrative approach to treatment will help them achieve and maintain the best health possible. Some studies show that people who participate in integrative health programs gain more profound health benefits than people who do not. Such programs can be an immersion into an overall healthy lifestyle. Also, if participating in substance use treatment, many people find that an integrative approach is the most successful in the long term.
Integrative Medicine vs. Conventional HealthcareIn the United States, about 40% of adults and 12% of children have used integrative medicine. Traditional or standard healthcare has become highly dependent on expensive technological health solutions, even when they may not be effective or able to provide desired results. In its zeal for technology, the conventional healthcare system has turned its back on simple intervention and holistic approaches, such as relaxation training and dietary adjustment, which are significant in numerous alternative treatment systems. People often want assistance to help navigate the perplexing maze of therapeutic options, especially when traditional approaches may be ineffective. Moreover, many often turn to integrative medicine due to frustration and helplessness from not finding relief in standard treatments. Studies show that the holistic approach and consultation process adopted by integrative medicine specialists make patients feel more in control of their disease, illness, addiction, and overall health. Unfortunately, this opportunity is not typically available in conventional healthcare settings because doctors with the desired knowledge, training, and attitudes are not as prevalent. Nonetheless, the multiple integrative therapies range from the practical and worthwhile to the outrageous and even risky. Therefore, you should find a physician that has biomedical knowledge to ensure that you are on the right holistic path. Regardless, conventional healthcare can no longer ignore integrative therapies. Integrative medicine has brought a paradigm shift in how traditional healthcare providers deliver care to patients in the United States and other countries. Integrative medicine offers people a self-empowered partnership with their healthcare consultants and a broader range of scientific, evidence-based therapies that are highly complementary to traditional medicine.
CRC Institute: Center for Integrative Medicine in ChicagoIntegrative medicine provides care for the entire being: body, mind, and spirit. It does so by combining the best of physical, nutritional, mental, lifestyle, and acupuncture therapies with conventional modern psychotherapy and medication. If you are interested in exploring this holistic approach to treatment, Chicago Rehab Center, a center for integrative medicine in Chicago, can help you. CRC Institute is committed to evidence-based practices. Our expert and highly qualified integrated health practitioners are here to help you live a full life by providing you with the option to control your symptoms, better cope with your medical conditions, and participate fully in your own, individualized medical care.
Integrative Medicine in Chicago TakeawayDue to its holistic approach, integrative medicine identifies all of the probable influences on an individual’s overall health. It explores the human ecology that comprises the physical and non-physical elements of how people interact with their surroundings. Additionally, care is provided through relationships that offer understanding and meaningful insights into every individual’s unique needs and circumstances. Research and evidence continue to help healthcare providers worldwide understand which treatments (acupuncture, pharmaceuticals, meditation, etc.) will help the body achieve ultimate healing. The partnership that we have with our patients helps us to empower them to seek and understand how they can be equal and active participants in their own care. This results in more effective treatment outcomes and improved quality of life for everyone involved. Our approach is evidence-based and personalized, focusing on helping you to achieve optimal health. To learn more about the benefits of holistic and integrative medicine throughout your recovery treatment at our integrated center for healing in Chicago, contact Chicago Rehab Center.
Reviewed by Dr. Beth Dunlap
Dr. Beth Dunlap, a board-certified addiction medicine and family medicine physician, is the medical director at CRC Institute, where she is responsible for overseeing all the integrated medical services at the Institute. Beth completed medical school, residency, and fellowship at Northwestern University, where she continues to serve on the faculty as a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She has extensive experience in addiction medicine at all levels of care, and her clinical interests include integrated primary care and addiction medicine, harm reduction, and medication-assisted treatment.