Integrative medicine is considered healing-oriented medicine which takes into account the whole person (body, mind and spirit) and all aspects of the person's lifestyle. It is based on the understanding that our bodies are a communication system and our symptoms are the body’s attempt at communicating what is out of balance, and what is needed for effective healing.
Integrative medicine does not shun conventional medicine; it actually combines, or integrates, the best of conventional and alternative methods while embracing all forms of healing which are safe and effective. For example, while a patient is suffering from a chronic condition and taking medication to control its symptoms, throughout treatment, integrative practitioners will maintain contact with the patient's family doctor or specialist and at the same time encourage the patient to take part in his/her own healing process. By incorporating simple lifestyle changes, dietary modifications and natural supplements into current conventional treatment, patients take an active role in their healing and as such, experience positive outcomes. This integrative approach basically engages both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership.
This form of medicine is indeed becoming the way of the future. Only 20 years ago, natural therapies were disregarded by the medical community. Today, more and more MD's are implementing natural therapies into their practices and referring to it as "integrative healthcare". They find that their patients are achieving sustainable and long-term health when conventional treatment is complemented with various natural therapies.
Although there is no magic prescription which guarantees that we will live a disease-free life, at least now we have the option of taking an integrative approach to healing. Should disease hit, we can now choose to assume an empowering active role, have a positive perspective, which may ultimately help with dealing with the disease more efficiently while on the road to health and well-being.