What is Integrative Medicine?

For those interested in modern medicine and its varying approaches, integrative medicine provides some interesting subject matter to consider. What is this, so-called “integration” involving medicine all about? Here’s a quick look at the integrative approach in modern medicine.

Core Definition

Perhaps one of the best explanations of this particular approach in medicine comes to us courtesy of The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine: “The field of integrative health and medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and professions to achieve optimal health and healing. Simply put, integrative health and medicine offer best practices for optimal health and healing.”

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Another way to look at integrative medicine is in viewing it as an approach that utilizes the patient’s input much more than alternative methods. The integrative approach thus “integrates” the patient’s sentiments, questions, and concerns into all medical dealings as much as possible. Rather than a directed diagnostic session, the doctor-patient meeting here is more of a two-way, interactive consultation.


So, how does one know if a practice utilizes an integrative approach? One of the best ways to confirm a medical practice’s preferred method is by asking questions or even scheduling a time to meet with the doctor before starting a long-term relationship. Aside from simply asking though, you will likely see some of the following attributes in an integrative system:

-Plenty of doctor questions of the patient

-Ample time provided for thorough explanations from patients

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-Feedback is valuable to the doctor after any new treatment or approach

-Doctor shows concern for all of the patient activities and statuses as inter-related in health implications


There are many benefits cited as being a direct result of the integrative approach. One of the most overwhelmingly touted benefits is that of a more accurate diagnosis and treatment course. By communicating and considering all things thoroughly regarding the patient and their health, the idea is that much more keen insights can then be gleaned. This means more accurate conclusions are likely.

Trust and the harboring of the all-important doctor-patient relationship is also a said benefit to integrative policies. Additionally, costs in treatment and the seeking of ultimate health solutions are said to be much lower in contrast to alternate, non-integrative practice methods.

Contrasting Approaches

Contrasting approaches to integrative practice put the doctor in a more authoritarian position. Less input is sought from the patient while more emphasis is placed on the attending physician’s own technique, diagnostic methods, and treatment preferences. Proponents of non-integrative approaches tout the system’s ability to circumvent the at-home internet-diagnoser and additional, unnecessary pieces to the overall healthcare puzzle provided with each case and patient. The debate goes on as to which approach is the best, thus providing us all with a market of options and variance in approach to choose from when selecting a healthcare provider.

Modern medicine is certainly not a singular, unified system of approach. Of all approaches however, the integrative approach is certainly the most welcoming of patient involvement and the consideration whole-body, inter-related health. If you would like to get more information on integrative medicine and all of its various connotations, The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine is a top, authoritative source.