What is Integrative Medicine

If you’re like me, you keep hearing the term integrative health a lot lately. So just what is integrative medicine?

What if you are seriously ill or injured, would you want to take advantage of any alternative therapies that might help you to get better (as long as they were science-based)? In essence, that is what Integrative Medicine or Integrative Healthcare (IH) does. It looks to integrate the best of Western scientific medicine with a broader understanding of the nature of the illness, healing, and wellness according to Duke Integrative Medicine. It’s far from a one-size-fits-all approach.

Benefits of Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine is more personalized, in my opinion. Let’s say you are having issues with arthritis. An integrative health doctor may look at the foods you are eating to see if there could be food allergies. He may look to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies that could be addressed through supplementation. He may also ask about your hobbies and activities to see if those may play a role. It goes beyond the scope of just treating the disease but treating the whole person.

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The University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine says integrative medicine takes into account the whole person, “covering all aspects of their lifestyle, including mind, body, spirit and the community.” It also emphasizes the relationship between the patient and practitioner, who become partners in the treatment process.

In a nutshell, integrative medicine is a mix of conventional medicine and alternative solutions.  It not only concentrates on treating diseases but also on promoting overall health and the prevention of disease. Integrative health can help prevent and treat a whole host of chronic health problems, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, diabetes and more. This to me is SO important. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to prevent disease instead of treating it?

How is Integrative Health Different

Integrative healthcare makes use of alternative medicines such as acupuncture, yoga therapy, massage, Reiki, chiropractic as well as nutrition and weight management classes. Now that most medical insurance will cover alternative treatments like acupuncture, it is available to more people. Did you know that about one-third of adults made use of some type of alternative medicine between 2002 and 2012?

As with alternative medicine, Integrative Healthcare is now a medical specialty practiced by board-certified practitioners, according to WebMD. Most medical schools and hospitals are incorporating integrative health into their course requirements. In addition, more patients are demanding integrative health-based treatments. But don’t just look at integrative health doctors but look at health coaches as well.

Integrative Health Coach

So, where does a health coach fit in? I think a coach is crucial if you need guidance in making healthy changes so that you don’t become diseased. I also think a coach is beneficial if you have a disease issue as they can work to ensure you are following doctor recommendations.

Integrative health coaching considers the client’s life, values, and goals holistically and empowers clients to make lasting behavioral health changes. Integrative health coaches work 1 on 1 or in groups to help clients successfully implement changes that benefit their health and well-being. Think of a coach as a personal trainer who will work with you to improve your overall health. They can get you started down a path if you are unsure about what you need and will be there alongside you to encourage you along the way.

Amy Hoogervorst is a national-board certified health and wellness coach (NBC-HWC) who connects with most of her clients by telephone, so distance is not a barrier. She offers a complimentary 20-minute call so you both can asses if coaching may be right for you. If you are interested in connecting with Amy, she can be reached through her website.

Integrative health is really about building a good foundation for overall health. So, if you are simply looking for a lifestyle change, a health coach may be a good option. If you are under the care of a physician for a medical reason, speak to your doctor about some integrative therapies or ask to be referred to an integrative health doctor.  It’s more about being preventative instead of reactive.

Integrative health is blending conventional and alternative medicine together. It’s no longer a case of “take two pills and call me in the morning.” You’ll still get your pills (if you need them) but with a side of yoga and maybe some supplements.


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Note, this article is for informational purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor do I make any claims to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. If you found this article helpful, please pin it and follow me on Pinterest or Facebook. You may also enjoy reading about Naturopathy and the benefits of Natural Health as well as Herbal Medicine.