A rather twisted perspective that was held by health practitioners for a long time was: “you’re broken-now we will fix you.” This has gradually changed to an emphasis on lifestyle change as a means of prevention and cure for some diseases. In this light, alternative sources of medication have emerged. Names used to refer to these practices include; complimentary, homeopath, holistic, integrated medicine, among others. Whatever the name, they all refer to the alternative processes and products used for medicinal purposes.
One description of integrated medicine that has been advanced by the National Center for Integrative and Complementary Health is a practice “that combines conventional and complementary approaches in a coordinated way.” Here, conventional refers to mainstream, or more broadly Western medicine, while complementary describes the alternative techniques. Below are some aspects of integrated medicine you should know while seeking treatment.
1- Know your doctor.
Doing some research on the doctor or hospital where you intend to seek treatment applies to both conventional and alternative treatment processes. Naturally, patients feel more attached to doctors with a good track record and a good reputation. In integrated medicine, this is equally important as it gives you the confidence that the products administered and the processes performed on a patient are not mere show tricks.
Before seeking the services of a doctor, try to find out whether he can attract positive reviews from other clients. Such information can also be accessed from professional bodies.
2- Source of medicine and treatment processes.
Integrated medicine advocates for use of nontraditional practices such as acupuncture, mind, body and soul approaches, proper nutrition, massage etc. Whereas some of them have outright benefits and are flatly harmless, some require that a little more information is provided to support their usefulness and efficacy. Reports of banned substances in alternative supplements have been significantly reported. The first step in ascertaining the credibility of such products would be reading in the label to find out the ingredients used in its preparation.
3- Combine conventional and Integrative medicine
Integrative doctors at both primary health care levels and more advanced levels apply Western approaches when necessary. Application of I.M methods does not necessarily belittle the use of conventional medicine, but a combination of both may yield better results. A cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, for instance, could also be doing yoga or be engaged in meditation to reduce stress.
4- Longer periods of the patient
One characteristic that sets I.M doctors apart from their Western-trained doctors is that they spend more time with their patients. A diagnosis meeting that could take under ten minutes with a conventional doctor might extend to an hour or more with an I.M doctor. I.M. doctors look at a patient’s historical background about lifestyle, diet as well as other medications and supplements you might be taking. It is also common for them to ask questions relating to other social aspects of your life such as your connection with friends family and community and even spirituality.
5- They also do tests.
I.M. doctors also perform tests done by conventional doctors. These include blood tests, pap smear, cholesterol screening among others. Nevertheless, this is largely determined by the opinion of the I.M doctor you visit.
6- Emphasis on nutrition and physical activity.
Perhaps acknowledging the shortfalls of conventional medicine, integrated medicine emphasizes on nutrition and physical activity. This has been outstandingly used in the treatment of diabetes after a 2001 prevention trial found that nutrition and diet can reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent. On the contrary, drug therapy was only 31 percent effective. It is such findings that have given I.M practice a milestone in regards to confidence.
7- I.M Doctors are trained.
Presently, the practice of I.M. is boosted by the existence of institutions that acknowledge its role in the field of medicine. In fact, some conventional doctors are combining their Western education with I.M knowledge in delivering better healthcare services to their patients.
There is growing evidence that integrated medicine plays a vital role in supporting conventional medicine. Patients are advised to gather the appropriate knowledge regarding the mode of treatment preferred. In fact, I.M is expected to play a pivotal role in the future of medication process going into the future.