Integrative medicine involves taking a holistic approach to patient care, treating patients as a whole entity rather than simply a condition. Combining established modern medicine with alternative therapies, it addresses the patient’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs to improve patient health. For patients, there are a number of benefits of integrative medicine that can help them with medical conditions, including chronic conditions, and to improve health overall.
Less invasive treatments
While established treatments including drugs and surgery are still used in integrative medicine, they are used alongside many less invasive treatments, such as reiki, acupuncture or massage, that are unlikely to have disastrous side effects. As a result, drugs and surgery may no longer be necessary or a shorter course of treatment or a milder form may be required instead. Overall, the emphasis is on encouraging the body to naturally heal itself.
Closer relationships with medical practitioners
In integrative medicine, patients are encouraged to be active participants in their treatments, involving them further in the treatment plans a doctor may suggest. Additionally, it requires the medical staff to treat the patent as a whole person rather than focusing on the condition.
For those entering a medical profession today, this new focus is something they should be aware of when training. It is well worth considering integrative medicine when choosing where to train, as while a course may be adept at delivering the academic curriculum, it may give minimal consideration for a more holistic approach. Those looking at online nursing programs in Pennsylvania should consider the Holy Family University. Their second-degree distance hybrid BSN program aims to develop their students as holistically trained nurses in as little as 14 months.
Improves general health
As integrative medicine looks at the patient as a whole, it delivers benefits for general health, rather than a single condition. This focus is not merely on physical health but also mental well-being as well as spiritual and emotional needs. Treatments such as culinary therapy can help patients adopt a healthier diet that reduces the need for medical treatments. Through understanding the links between physical health and emotional, spiritual and mental health, holistic psychotherapy such as hypnosis, hypnotherapy and CBT can prevent psychological problems taking a physical toll. By improving health as a whole, patients are less likely to become ill and when they are ill, they are in a better shape for a swift recovery.
By involving patients as active participants in their treatments, the patients can become increasingly skilled in managing their own conditions and less reliant on a physician. Becoming more self-reliant is very empowering for a patient and can spur them on to make the necessary changes to improve their health. In busy lifestyles full of social, professional and family commitments, many adults forget about self-care but through a holistic approach patients can improve their diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation, understanding that it is right to make time to prioritize oneself.
Making use of alternative therapies
Eastern herbal medicine, acupuncture, reiki, yoga, and tai chi are now considered alternative therapies. But these have a long history with the benefits discovered and honed throughout the centuries. Today, they are emerging from being considered unimportant or fit only for the more eccentric. Instead, they are taking their rightful place alongside modern medicine with their benefits becoming increasingly well understood.
Are there any downsides?
The short answer is that there are no real downsides for patients in taking an integrative approach to medicine. Some might cite horror stories of patients suffering or even dying through relying solely on alternative therapies, but this is not what integrative medicine is about. It never seeks to ignore the vast advances modern medicine has made and encourages appropriate use. Used alongside other therapies and improvements for general health, modern treatments can become even more effective.
Another question that might be raised is the cost of the different treatments. But integrative medicine is not more expensive. In fact, it is likely that the opposite is true. When alternative therapies are effectively used, they can reduce the need for more costly drug or surgery options. With the emphasis of integrative medicine on treating the patient as a whole, improving their general physical and mental health, the patient often finds they are ill less often and have much less need for expensive treatments of any kind. Prevention is, after all, always better than a cure. It is also far cheaper.