Integrative Medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and healing,” The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine — endorsed definition.

In a 2 minute video, Dr. Andrew Weil explains how Integrative Medicine seeks to refocus medicine on health and healing, emphasizing the whole person.

Principles of Integrative Medicine
  • A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process
  • Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
  • Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body
  • A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
  • Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
  • Use of the broader concepts of promoting health and preventing illness as well as treating disease
  • Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development
Integrative Medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.”– Dr. Andrew Weil Founder of the University of Arizona Fellowship in Integrative Medicine

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Integrative medicine focuses on promoting health rather than merely managing disease or symptoms. This healing-oriented approach involves discovery of the core causes of imbalance or dis-ease, reveals the unique keys to unlock your own innate healing abilities, and taps into this healing capacity to enable the nurturing of your whole Being: spirit, mind, body, emotional and energetic systems, in order to achieve wellbeing and enhance your overall state of health and balance. It embraces the best of conventional medicine, discerns the safest most effective components in the spectrum of alternative and complementary therapies and integrates all safe and viable options for the highest benefit of each individual.

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It is important to understand that in this paradigm, healing is not equated to a cure for disease. Though many times healing can also be curative, often unexpected and miraculous results can be achieved through treating the individual as a Whole Being and addressing the intricacies of the entire system rather than via an alleviating-of-sickness approach that addresses only a fraction of the issue, possibly even eliminates a symptom, but never gets to the core imbalance to allow a higher state of sustainable health to be holistically achieved. My belief is that the difficulties in treating and controlling the epidemic of chronic lifestyle-related diseases in today’s Western Society are due to the current limited, disease-oriented approach. I believe that most of these imbalances can, in fact be not only controlled, but often cured by using the more holistic approach of Integrative Medicine. It’s also important to understand that as integrative providers, we do not uncritically embrace any or all alternative/complementary therapies, nor do we ignore the amazing advances and contributions of conventional Western medicine. We also do not blindly follow every conventional therapy just because it is labeled “standard of care.” We critically evaluate all possible avenues for healing and employ them as best suited in each individual situation. Most patients have used or routinely use alternative or complementary therapies.  (See table below).  I feel it is imperative that you have a trained healthcare provider with the education and experience to monitor everything you are taking and all forms of healing you currently use or desire to explore. One who can discern which options are beneficial vs those that may derail your healing. And one who has the discretion to find information to support what we are not familiar with.  This fine tuning of the healthcare experience is where integrative practitioners shine. The highest rule of medicine is still: “First, do no harm” and I hold this vow sacred.

In the clinical model of Integrative Medicine, each patient is seen as an indivisible whole of spirit-mind-emotions-body. The patient and practitioner agree to be accountable to one another — as partners and co-travelers on the healing journey — and to do their best to assist the patient in making and nurturing important changes in key areas of lifestyle. In this model each patient receives care in a manner that is not just based upon their physiologic needs but also upon their individual goals, beliefs and values.