Integrative Medicine
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine combines mainstream medical therapies and Complementary and Alternative therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.1

Integrative medicine is a phrase coined by Andrew Weil, MD, to signify the blending of conventional biomedicine with complementary and alternative medicine practices to return wholeness, balance, and support to the self-healing process. Integrative medicine recognizes both the wisdom traditions of diverse healing systems and the advancements in clinical practice, research, public hygiene, and technology of modern biomedicine and allopathic care.2 Dr. Andrew Weil goes on to clarify that integrative medicine as a "healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and...

Components of Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) categorizes the different modalities of integrative medicine in the following categories:

  • Domains – whole medical systems (homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional chinese medicine, ayurveda)
  • Mind-body medicine (meditation, yoga, acupuncture, deep-breathing exercises, hypnosis, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, qi gong, tai chi)
  • Biologically-based practices (dietary supplements, herbal supplements)
  • Manipulative and body-based practices (chiropractic, osteopathy, massage)
  • Energy medicine (qi gong, reiki, therapeutic touch, electromagnetic therapy)

NCCAM acknowledges that "rigorous, well-designed clinical trials for many CAM therapies are often lacking; therefore, the safety and effectiveness of many CAM therapies are uncertain. NCCAM is sponsoring research designed to fill this knowledge gap by building a scientific evidence base about CAM therapies—whether they are safe; and whether they work for the conditions for which people use them and, if so, how they work".1

With any medical therapy, there may be risks. Potential integrative medicine clients may mitigate their risk by

  • Researching and selecting their CAM provider with care. Ask questions of the provider - what is their training? How long have they been in practice? Do they have experience treating the condition? What will be treatment be?
  • Tell all of your...