What Is Integrative Medicine, and Why Do You Need It?

Traditional healthcare is good at one thing: making you feel better when you’re sick. There is no denying that modern medicine is excellent at treating disease; doctors are well trained to make most acute problems go away, at least in the short term.  The Integrative approach to medicine is different. Both you and your doctor work as a team to improve your overall health, as well as prevent or treat disease. Integrative practitioners believe that the mind, body, and spirit are all essential to a patient’s wellbeing and should be addressed to achieve lasting healing. The disease is just one small of the bigger picture.  

Happy after visiting an Integrative doc

Integrative vs. Conventional Medicine

Integrative health is gaining traction in the United States with each passing year, but many questions remain about the difference between integrative medicine and conventional medicine. Integrative practitioners believe that effectively treating the whole patient means incorporating elements from conventional medicine, functional medicine, and complementary medicine to design a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan for each patient. 

The integrative healthcare practice believes conventional treatments have their rightful place in a patient’s healthcare plan, with a focus on finding the underlying causes of symptoms or diseases. For example, let’s say you go in for lab work and find that your thyroid is not producing enough hormones. Integrative practitioners will begin searching for answers as to why the thyroid is not functioning properly. We may find that you have an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s but would then dig deeper to see why an autoimmune disease occurred in the first place, especially since having one autoimmune disorder increases your risk if being diagnosed with a second one. Digging deeper helps identify dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors that are predisposing you to disease; hence addressing the root cause. These elements play a key role in our overall health. By working on all of them, we both treat the disease and improve overall wellness.

A well-trained integrative medicine practitioner begins by searching for the root causes of illness. Then we fix them through lifestyle and complementary medicine. Sometimes a disease has progressed enough to where medication is necessary, or your symptoms are having a detrimental effect on your quality of life. When this happens, we incorporate pharmaceutical interventions. This is often enough to control your problematic symptoms. We then implement lifestyle changes to heal the underlying cause of your symptoms. There is a time and place for conventional therapies, but it is also vital to improve your overall health and wellness.


The Conventional Approach

On the other hand, conventional medicine often focuses primarily on eliminating symptoms and managing the disease. usually using only pharmaceuticals or other medical and technological interventions. The same patient whose lab results came back showing deficient thyroid hormones would likely be sent home with a prescription for a medication to help improve the production of thyroid hormones. This medication may help reduce symptoms but will not address or treat the underlying cause that is responsible for the underproduction of hormones in the first place.

A Family doing Yoga

Why You Need Integrative Medicine

When working with an integrative practitioner, you take an active role in your health care. It is essential that you understand the underlying causes of your issues and are educated on how to best manage them and prevent progression.


Treating the Whole Person

Integrative medicine focuses on complete healing and improving your overall health and wellbeing. We understand that there is usually more going on under the surface than your symptoms. No symptom exists on its own! For example, a patient with unexplained, chronic digestive issues may be suffering from chronic and unaddressed anxiety, therefore treating the digestive symptoms with medications won’t address the root cause of the digestive symptoms.

A conventional doctor might utilize medications in this case. An integrative medicine practitioner will address the emotional, physiological, and environmental causes of the digestive symptoms.


Customized Treatments

Regardless of the health condition, every single body is unique. As integrative medicine practitioners, we understand your individuality and create a customized treatment plan based on your unique needs. We will dig into factors that are often overlooked in conventional medicine, such as environmental factors, relationships, stressors, and diet and exercise. Not addressing these elements inhibits your ability to heal, as they play a crucial role in our health.


Complementary Therapies

Integrative medicine is holistic. We understand the value of complementary therapies to help you along your healing journey. These therapies may include:

  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Infrared saunas
  • Red light therapy

Priority is given to methods with the most data supporting them. 

Integrative Docs work with You

Patient-Driven Care

Doctors and patients seldom have a close relationship in a conventional practice. You are actively involved in your own health and healing with integrative medicine. In fact, we want to build a relationship with you! To help develop the best treatment for you, you are encouraged to ask questions and make suggestions. The more involved you are in your treatment, the more likely it will work for you. 

While conventional treatments have their rightful place in medicine, true wellness goes beyond just managing symptoms. With the right lifestyle changes and treatments, many patients can find remission or even a cure for diseases that have plagued them for many years. In the event that the illness cannot be fully cured, or if a patient’s symptoms are too detrimental to their quality of life, an integrative medicine practitioner understands the value of pharmaceuticals and other conventional therapies. To achieve optimal health, and to maximize your quality of life, consider meeting with a qualified integrative medicine practitioner to learn more about how it can work for you!


Are You Looking to Improve Your Health?

Do you want to work with an integrative doctor, dietitian or health coach? 

Look no further than Planted Forward. We offer Family Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Cardiology services, all provided by trained integrative physicians. We also have registered dietitians and health coaching services to further support your health. 

Do you need help managing your gastrointestinal symptoms? Or are you simply looking to be as healthy as possible? I’m here to help! If you want to maximize your gut health, you can purchase Doctor Méndez Introduction to Gut Health here or book an appointment with me today to get the support you deserve. 

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