Seeking the Optimal Combination of Mainstream and Complementary Medicine
The intent of the Integrative Medical Practitioner is to use an evidence based blend of treatments for the best available outcome according to your individual needs. Rather than focusing on either Mainstream or Complementary Medicine, Integrative Practitioners may suggest a regime that uses various modalities simultaneously and from multiples aspects and professionals from the medical spectrum. Therefore your integrated care may involve doctors, physical therapists, naturopaths, herbalists, yoga instructors, psychotherapists and so forth, depending on your own medical and personal goals.
The FIRST RULE of MEDICINE: DO NO HARM!
The keystone to Integrative Medicine is to begin, first and foremost, with conservative measures, and, in particular, the Lifestyle Medicine approaches of Diet and Nutrition, Exercise, Smoking Cessation, Sleep and Psychological Health. Where necessary, components of Nutritional and Herbal Supplementation, Pharmaceutical and other Therapies are considered according to need, yet always taking into account their relative risk as much as benefit.
Seek Wellness with Minimal Risk
With an integrated approach there is no bias towards any particular treatment with management being decided upon in accordance with the best available evidence, and personalized to patient-centred care. When necessary, high powered therapies (pharmaceutical medicine, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) often work effectively but it must be respected that they often also come with risks and side effects. Less invasive therapies may therefore be used to reduce the dosage of higher risk interventions and/or to minimize possible side effects.
For What Conditions is Integrated Medicine Appropriate?
ALL conditions are amenable to treatment with an integrated approach. The key, however, is open communication between all people contributing to your health plan with mutual respect for the value of each therapy and profession involved. Each therapist must be willing to admit to the limitations of their own approach and work as a team to deliver optimal outcomes.
Who is in Control of Your Care?
Ultimately YOU are, for personal growth and development is as much a part of holistic care as dealing with illness. You are the master of your own illness, treatment, and ultimately, wellness. As a consumer you need to be the leader in a pro-active team orientated towards your care and make responsible decisions based on the information you are provided by committed practitioners. However, if your condition is complicated, it is often helpful and sometimes necessary to work through a primary practitioner who can help coordinate your care across a wider team of therapists.
What Part Will Your Medical Doctor Play?
Whilst a medical doctor does not necessarily need to be in a dominant position within this network, they will be critic if an individual is using pharmaceutical medication(s) or invasive therapies (radiotherapy, surgery etc). It is important to discuss other interventions you may be using or considering using, as these interventions may risk negative interactions with other treatments. Optimistically you will have a medical practitioner who is accepting of the integrated medical approach.
Understanding Integrative Medicine
Integrative Medicine is the combined use of both Mainstream and Complementary Medicine by doctors networking with other health practitioners in order to achieve optimal Health and Well-Being for YOU.
Many people may also see Integrative Medicine as being synonymous with Holistic Medicine.
Why Do You Need an Integrative Medical Doctor?
Many people have an interest in or already take a range of complementart medicines. Unfortunately, however, they may also be uncomfortable with dicussing this with their mainstream doctor.
If you do not feel comfortable disclosing all information to your doctor then perhaps you should consider seeking a doctor who is more open to your personal decisions regarding your health care.
A growing number of doctors are now trained in the direct use of complementary therapies as integrated into a holistic medical programme.
Others have widened their knowledge enough such that they are willing to be part of an integrated health team in which naturopaths, herbalists, nutritionists, physical therapists etc provide the treatment input that the doctor may case manage.
This said, there are definite instances in which your medical doctor needs to be in charge. These include but are not limited to:
1. When you have multiple serious signs and symptoms for which you have no obvious answer.
2. When you require pathology testing and interpretation for your signs and symptoms.
3. When you are already undergoing complex medical procedures (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgical procedures.)
4. When you are taking prescription medication that may interact with any change in lifestyle including dietary modification and nutritional/herbal supplementation.
5. When you have a condition that involves an irreversible disease state (e.g. post Myocardial Infarct, emphysema, renal failure).
6. For complex genetic, autoimmune, cancer or other such conditions.
7. When your overall medical condition is made complex by the involvement of two or more symptoms.
8. For psychological states that you cannot control, and in particular, when you are at risk of harming yourself or others.
9. When you have been previously hospitalised for a currently active disease state that you are seeking help with.
10. When the set of signs and symptoms that concern you, however minor, are resistant to simple lifestyle change and self-administered interventions after a three-month period.
To coordinate your mainstream and complementary medical needs so as to maximise your Health and Happiness