Integrative Medicine is also known as IM and it employs the holistic approach to healing a person’s body, mind and spirit as a whole entity through the close cooperation and complementary efforts of conventional or mainstream Western medicine, jointly with other diverse and high-quality medical and healing modalities. To spell this out in more thorough details; Integrative Medicine is the partnership between those practicing professionals who hold medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degrees along with their affiliated health care professionals such as physical therapists, psychologist, nurse practitioners and registered nurses and those who practice unconventional or alternative healing methods such as acupuncture and acupressure, the various techniques of massage therapy, yoga and meditation, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling, chiropractic, biofeedback, stress reduction techniques and so on. The two sides of this atypical partnership are bonded by the passion to heal the patient, body and mind, rather than only the disease.
Integrative Medicine and Its Rapid Growth
A nationwide study which was conducted and published in 1993 brought Integrative Medicine to the forefront with the findings which confirmed that as many as one in every three Americans have used an alternative therapy of one kind or another. The two out of three Americans who until then had not yet used alternative therapy finally became aware of its existence and many proceeded to give it a try. Hospitals, clinics and medical centers took these findings to heart and the last ten or so years have seen many medical institutions espousing the Integrative Medicine into their otherwise conservative practice. According to the American Hospital Association, the number of hospitals that offer complementary therapies in the United States is in an extraordinarily rapid growth pattern as only 8.6 percent of hospitals offered it in 1998 in comparison to over 50 percent of hospitals offering it in 2008.
In spite of the fact that most complementary treatments are not covered by insurance and some are not inexpensive, Integrative Medicine has tremendous appeal as it seems to provide patients and professionals more time, more attention, more focus and a broader and farther reaching approach to healing as wisdom is drawn from a variety of cultures. In addition, the professionals see better results reached quicker while patients feel like whole human beings with a complete identity rather than a mere ailment.
The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco takes a wide-ranging perspective on health and disease as its website states, “Integrative medicine seeks to incorporate treatment options from conventional and alternative approaches, taking into account not only physical symptoms, but also psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and illness.” In an effort to advance and promote Integrative Medicine throughout the nation, the Osher Center and thirty other university medical centers including Duke, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown and Penn formed the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.
Opponents Drive Research into More Action
Just as there are many proponents for Integrative Medicine, there are also many opponents who claim that there is simply not enough hard scientific evidence to prove that any of the alternative or complementary approaches indeed have any true or lasting effects on patients who are dealing with real medical issues. Opponents are concerned that too many resources are spent on a mere fad that has no more healing power than a placebo. The demands for more proof and the ever present quest to uncover mysteries propelled researchers into a frenzy of actions in search for more answers about alternative medicine — and the hunt is still ongoing.