Seems like this is the latest buzzword in medicine. And everybody is claiming to be an expert. But what does it really mean? What do we need to integrate? Well…….everything! This is precisely what is lacking in contemporary medical care. Think of it. You are one person, not a set of different diagnostic codes. And you deserve to be treated as one person with the best of modern medicine and the best of all the medical traditions that have gone before. Don’t you think so?
Actually integrative medicine is a radical departure from the standard medical model. Traditional medicine separates. That’s the opposite of integrates. There’s a pill for each ill and a specialist for each pill. You become an ever expanding set of diagnoses, each of which generates an always enlarging set of procedures and treatments. Your pap smear is done by the gynecologist, your asthma is dually treated by the allergist and the pulmonologist, your palpitations send you to the cardiologist, and your low back pain is a push/pull between the orthopedist, the physical therapist, and the pain management specialist. And you thought that you were relatively healthy. After all, aren’t your problems interrelated? Of course they are! So why don’t your specialists realize this and talk to each other?
Traditional medicine separates. True integrated medicine treats you as a whole being. True integrated medicine is both very simple and amazingly complex. So are you.
Traditional medicine not only fails to integrate within itself, it ignores all of its own rich past. At worst it dismisses and belittles alternative treatment. At best it is just ignorant. Integrated Medicine tries to bring the best of the world’s past medical disciplines together with contemporary medical traditions to help you. There are many fine complimentary medical fields. The naturopaths, the herbalists, the chiropractors, the acupuncturists all can contribute to our well being. Then there are the paleo, the functional, and the restorative medicine doctors. Don’t forget the osteopaths, the homeopaths, the antiaging, the aryuvedic… wait a second! Aren’t we separating once again? Of course. It’s a fundamental flaw on both sides of the fence.
Integrating these disciplines is a monumental task. And it is a very important one. It takes much more than a few weekend courses for someone to claim proficiency. Yet many do. And poorly trained practitioners exist on both sides of the integrated medicine fence. Some have excellent credentials and skills in their discipline but woefully lack understanding of better alternatives outside of their area of expertise. To a chiropractor, it’s a spine alignment, to a homeopath it’s a tincture, to a psychic it’s your mother. And your busy nurse practitioner doesn’t care but wants you to take Effexor.
Somebody’s got to see the big picture. That’s what I try to do. I strive to understand different traditions, their strengths and weaknesses and to bring the best disciplines to the forefront for you. Together we can navigate the waters. The medical world is awash in a sea of information that is changing rapidly. I hope that it will integrate, educate and personalize for each of us because that truly is the best medicine can be. And it is beginning to be taught as such. So that’s the direction I’m going, you are welcome to come along. Bring your best from the community – an acupuncturist, a tincture, a website, a prayer, a friend or another curious MD. All have their place.