January 23rd is International Integrative Health Day, whose goal is to ‘inspire worldwide dialog, education, collaboration, research initiatives, and programming about medicine (i.e. healthcare) that is patient-centered, holistic, economically and environmentally sustainable, and open to integrating a wide variety of care options.’
Let’s explore the meaning behind integrative health.
What Is Integrative Health/Medicine?
Integrative health blends conventional Western medicine with traditional Eastern practices, e.g. acupuncture, herbal treatment, massage, and other mind-body approaches. It also includes lifestyle modalities such as nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and stress management.
The focus of integrative health is to promote wellness of mind, body, and spirit.
Conventional medicine tends to be disease-focused with the emphasis on ‘fixing a problem’ while integrative medicine is more ‘healing-focused’ with an emphasis on looking at the whole picture, understanding how various symptoms might be connected, and identifying root causes.
By shifting the focus from ‘treating the symptoms’ to ‘treating the whole person,’ integrative medicine solutions are often more effective because they tackle the lifestyle issues that have created the problem in the first place.
Integrative health and integrative medicine are terms often used interchangeably. The distinction lies on the fact that integrative health tends to be a multidisciplinary and multi-professional way of delivering care while integrative medicine relies primarily on a conventional medicine setting.
Importantly, integrative health is a patient-centric approach; the patient is no longer a mere ‘recipient’ of a practitioner’s advice or medication but becomes an active partner in the healing process and the behavior modification necessary to create healthful lifestyle choices.
The integrative health movement has been evolving over the last few decades to the point where it is used in some way by more than 50 percent of the general population in the US and is becoming increasingly accepted by mainstream medicine.
The 5 Key Principles Behind Integrative Health/Medicine
Integrative medicine embraces:
- A close partnership between the patient and physician.
- A blend of conventional, traditional, and lifestyle-related methods.
- An emphasis on natural, non-invasive treatments, whenever possible.
- A thorough consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness, and disease including body, mind, spirit, and community.
- The idea of promoting health and preventing illness by adopting a health-promoting lifestyle.
Methods Used In an Integrative Health Approach
The top three most popular integrative health methods are:
- Nutritional Counseling (coupled with physical activity): Diet is one of the most powerful ways to heal our bodies and to prevent chronic illnesses. To give an example, according to a large diabetes prevention trial study, lifestyle intervention such as diet and exercise can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes for those at high risk by 60 percent (versus traditional drug therapy which reduces risk by only 31 percent).
- Acupuncture is a well-known method to treat a variety of conditions including nausea, fibromyalgia pain, arthritis, PMS, and menopausal symptoms.
- Mind-Body Therapies are also prominent forms of integrative medicine treatment and include meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, and hypnosis.
Other methods used in integrative health include chiropractic treatment, osteopathy, tai chi, qigong, Reiki, electromagnetic therapy, and biofeedback.
Integrative Health recognizes the importance of nutrition in promoting health and preventing disease.
This is precisely why creating a healthful meal is the perfect way to celebrate this special day!
Here is a recipe for Eat-the-Rainbow Spring Rolls With Ginger Peanut Sauce.