There are a wide variety of modalities within all forms of healthcare that have a place depending on the unique and varying components of each individual case.
Integrative health bridges the gap between the different sectors of healthcare to provide an all-inclusive form of care.
Here we will explore what integrative health is and why I believe it is the future of health management.
Integrative Health Definition
Integrative health or integrative medicine utilizes modalities found in both the conventional and natural healthcare arenas to provide a comprehensive form of healthcare.
This paradigm recognizes the truly unique nature of each individual and henceforth the need for a kaleidoscope of tools and resources to address each unique case.
Integrative health acknowledges the usefulness of all healthcare modalities so it does not limit the scope of care to one particular form of medicine.
Our bodies are an interconnected, interdependent collection of organs and systems, as each system has a direct or indirect influence on each other. Furthermore, our mental health effects our physical health and vice versa. Integrative medicine recognizes this interconnectivity.
An effective healthcare model must be able to address a very wide variety of possible imbalances, core underlying causes, and forms of illness including acute illness, chronic illness, mental & emotional health concerns, physical health concerns, and more. Integrative medicine is equipped to address all of these health factors due to its all-inclusive collection of healthcare methodologies.
Moreover, integrative healthcare recognizes that the human condition is comprised of the mental, emotional, social, and physical. This approach therefore seeks to provide Whole Person healthcare that addresses each of these equally significant aspects of the human condition.
Integrative healthcare also identifies and treats the core underlying cause of illness in order to grant lasting health and wellness.
In their practice, integrative health professionals will often utilize resources such as compounding pharmacies when using pharmaceutical medication as a healing tool. These are pharmacies that are able to personalize medications for each patient. They can also remove potentially aggravating ingredients such as fillers, preservatives, and dyes to reduce the likelihood of side effects.
Modalities of Integrative Healthcare
The following are some of the many forms of healthcare modalities and therapies that can be utilized as part of the practice of integrative medicine:
- Functional medicine
- Naturopathic medicine
- Chiropractic medicine
- Osteopathic medicine
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Natural healing agents such as herbal and nutritional supplements, light therapy, IV therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and more
- Epigenetics and nutrigenomics
- Holistic healing practices and mind/body therapies such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, pilates, aromatherapy, music therapy, art therapy, Qigong, breathwork, earth grounding, and more
- Pharmaceutical medications, often compounded as discussed above
- Surgical intervention
- Massage therapy
- Nutritional therapy
- Physical therapy
Integrative healthcare practitioners will often have a community of healthcare professionals that they refer their patients to depending on the unique needs of each individual patient and those who are involved in the treatment plan are often seen as a collaborative team.
More information on the modalities practiced within the natural healthcare arena specifically can be found here.
Integrative Healthcare and Chronic Illness
Globally, 1 in 3 adults currently suffer from multiple chronic health conditions, making chronic illness more ubiquitous and prevalent than ever before.
This calls for a new approach in healthcare that is designed to specifically address chronic illness and its many nuances and complexities.
Because of the tremendously varied nature of chronic illness and the unique and changing needs of each patient and case, integrative health can be seen as the most appropriate methodology to utilize for these circumstances because it takes into account any and all appropriate measures for treatment.
This is why I believe integrative healthcare is the future of health management, because it is able to address the growing need for chronic illness centered care which depends on custom-tailored, personalized treatment.
This approach also often provides the most efficacy in facilitating lasting health and wellness because the core underlying cause/s have been addressed and key health maintenance factors such as diet, lifestyle, and environment have been taken into full consideration.
Integrative Health Agencies
Some of the formal agencies that are currently in place within the integrative healthcare space include:
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: the U.S. federal government’s lead agency for integrative health
- The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine: a collaborative of researchers, doctors, health professionals, and academics within the integrative health community
Integrative health is an innovative healthcare paradigm that unifies all research and evidence-based healthcare modalities to provide an all-inclusive form of care.
It utilizes all appropriate means with the ultimate goal of providing complete and lasting health and wellness and recognizes the multifactorial nature of the human experience in mind, body, and spirit.