How is Integrative Medicine Different from Western Medicine?

While you can’t deny that Western medicine has its benefits, do you ever get the feeling it takes a too compartmentalised approach to your wellbeing? It’s not hard to see that everything in wellness is connected; stress, for example, is an emotional response, but it can have an impact on your physical health in terms of inflammation, weight gain and more. But as complementary wellness therapies can seem a little airy-fairy, to whom do you turn? Fortunately, a movement has arisen which encapsulates the best of both worlds.


Integrative medicine shifts the focus of healthcare from solely treating your physical problems to taking a holistic approach. The key difference between integrative medicine and what you’re used to is that it integrates – hence the name – your mind, body, spirit and lifestyle issues. However, there are several other reasons why integrative medicine stands out from the crowd:


1. Relationship. While you usually go to your GP and passively receive his or her wealth of expert knowledge, in integrative medicine, you forge a partnership with your practitioner in which you work together on the process of healing. You don’t put your entire wellbeing in the hands of someone else; you play a central and active role in your own treatment.


2. Treatments. The focus of traditional Western medicine is almost exclusively on pharmaceutical and surgical interventions. While integrative medicine does use these treatments, it also emphasises the use of complimentary methods. This is because these treatments work to facilitate your body’s own healing response and are natural and often less invasive. However, though integrative medicine is open to non-traditional forms of therapy, it will only embrace methods whose effectiveness is supported by good science


3. Prevention. You only go to your GP once you have a health problem. In integrative medicine, on the other hand, practitioners highlight the importance of promoting good health and preventing illnesses before they arise, as well as treating your health problems as and when they occur.


4. Inspiration. Even though you respect your doctor’s opinion, you might feel like he or she is a little disconnected. This is a common complaint in Western medicine, but integrative medicine casts physicians as role models for health and wellness. Not only will your doctor be focused and connected to your process of personal development, he or she will also be dedicated to self-exploration.

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