Integrated medicine is a relatively new term for the combination of conventional and alternative healthcare practices. The principle behind integrated medicine is that by combining different aspects of healthcare, one may reach their optimum state of health and wellbeing.
Alternative medicine, when used alongside conventional drugs and surgery as in integrated medicine, is known as complementary medicine; i.e. it ‘complements’ the orthodox treatments being given.
For example, someone with IBS may take prescribed medication to help ease their physical symptoms, but they may also have regular aromatherapy massages to help to control the stress and anxiety that can often aggravate the condition. Similarly, a person who experiences unwanted side effects of long-term medication may see benefits from having reflexology treatments to help boost their wellbeing and restore balance in the body.
Another good example of integrated medicine, which is becoming more widely used in hospices, is the use of complementary therapies to aid relaxation and improve quality of life in cancer patients. Therapies may also be used to relieve side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Despite the growing evidence for various complementary therapies, many medical professionals still fear that they are potentially dangerous. Granted, if someone has a serious medical condition or illness and they were to forgo seeing their GP, instead choosing to use alternative medicine, then it may indeed be dangerous. Not because complementary and alternative medicine is dangerous in itself, but because the person did not seek conventional medical treatment. This is because - whilst complementary therapies may help to relieve specific symptoms and minor health complaints - they are not intended to cure major disease, but to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit, and aid the effects of drugs or surgery.
If you have never tried therapies such as holistic massage, aromatherapy or reflexology to complement your conventional healthcare, why not give them a try to see if integrated medicine can help you to build a bigger picture of health and wellbeing.