Integrative Medicine

When most people talk about holistic medicinal practices, they are thinking of baseless superstitious nonsense with no real health benefits. Decades of charlatans and snake oil salesmen using the term ‘holistic medicine’, have turned it into a punchline instead of a way of life. However, the actual definition of the term can be expressed as an approach to medicine involving a focus on not just physical health, but also mental and spiritual health as well. When viewed under this rather vague bit of semantic pedantry, the terms holistic and integrative medicine are all but indistinguishable.

When most people talk about holistic medicinal practices, they are thinking of baseless superstitious nonsense with no real health benefits. Decades of charlatans and snake oil salesmen using the term ‘holistic medicine’, have turned it into a punchline instead of a way of life. However, the actual definition of the term can be expressed as an approach to medicine involving a focus on not just physical health, but also mental and spiritual health as well. When viewed under this rather vague bit of semantic pedantry, the terms holistic and integrative medicine are all but indistinguishable.

When the care that each patient receives is meticulously designed for their individual needs, their health is bound to improve over the long term. Integrative medicine is not the same as holistic medicine however it is distinguished by several defining characteristics. Without these principles, the course of treatment cannot be considered integrative medicine. The first principal of integrative medicine is that the patient and doctor are partners in the healing process. They must work together in order to achieve a balanced, healthy method of living one’s life.

The second principal of integrative medicine is that while when possible, less invasive procedures are preferable to invasive ones, scientific principles are crucial in the process of diagnoses and treatment. This principal is essentially a repudiation of unreliable medical practices such as aromatherapy or acupuncture, among other unproven treatments often recommended by holistic doctors. So even though natural,  organic cures with minimal medication and surgery are ideal, users of integrative medicine must utilize the scientific method.

The third and final principal of integrative medicine is that the medical practitioner must take into account all environmental, emotional, and spiritual factors when diagnosing and treating illnesses and infirmities. A traditional doctor is unlikely to take your social life and mental health into account with any degree of significance when diagnosing you with or treating you for whatever physical symptoms are affecting you. A doctor of
integrative medicine, however, takes all of the variety of influences that make up your life into account when treating you. This method encourages you to take preventative measures, helping you stay healthier than ever in the long term.