Integrative medicine is an approach to health care that addresses physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental wellness. It combines conventional care we are familiar with — known as Western medicine — with holistic aspects of Eastern medicine (think: acupuncture and meditation).
According to Dr. Gary Levinson, a board-certified internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, “integrative therapies are a great fit for many patients, particularly those with chronic pain, depression and other chronic illnesses.”
What are the benefits of integrative medicine?
Some patients are drawn to the more natural, less invasive treatments associated with integrative medicine. It promotes better tolerance of unpleasant symptoms and often uses less pharmaceutical medication than traditional treatment alone — without losing the positive benefits of modern medicine.
What are some common examples of alternative therapies used in an integrative approach?
You’ll want to speak with your doctor to find a treatment that’s right for you. Some common techniques include music, pet or art therapy, massage and meditation. Guided imagery, acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology and Healing Touch are also options.
How can mental and social wellness have a positive impact on our health?
People respond differently to illness and some have trouble coping with these challenges. The support of family, friends, practitioners and community help us maintain a positive outlook, which aids the healing process. Dr. Levinson says, “Integrative medicine allows patients to empower their mind to help their bodies heal.”
What are a few things we can do to promote our own mental and social wellness?
Practice a positive, self-help mentality and focus on maintaining wellness before illness strikes. “Regular physical exercise, deep breathing techniques, yoga and meditation are excellent practices to do routinely,” says Dr. Levinson.
Keep family and friends involved in your life. “This sense of community will help you heal and will allow you to focus your efforts on staying well,” he says.