Integrative Medicine is becoming something of great interest to baby boomers. It offers a wide variety of treatments and options that are based on health, healing and prevention. What exactly is Integrative Medicine?

Most people think that Integrative Medicine is simply the combination of complementary and traditional medical therapies. However, it is much more than that. Integrative medicine focuses on healing and wellness with the knowledge that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. The patient-provider relationship is extremely important in the integrative model, and it is considered a partnership. The approach focuses on the whole patient with the goal of overall wellness rather than a disease centered approach. Within the context of this type of medicine, complementary therapies such as massage, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy, nutritional treatments, yoga and meditation (to name a few) may be utilized.

Let me give you an example of how it works. In an Integrative medicine visit, the provider will spend at least an hour to an hour and a half with a new patient. At that time, the patient\’s history, which includes present and past concerns, is discussed at length. In addition to medical concerns, nutritional, psychological and spiritual concerns may also be addressed. This visit will also typically include a physical exam, and diagnostic studies may be ordered. An Integrative medical program is designed based on the needs of the individual patient. Therefore, no two programs are alike.

Some patients may need minimal changes to their medical regimen. It could be as simple as adding fish oil to their medicines to reduce joint inflammation, or adding ground flax to improve their fiber intake. Others such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may be prescribed acupuncture to reduce nausea while undergoing chemotherapy. They may also receive guided imagery or hypnotherapy, both of which have been found to improve outcomes in cancer patients, and they may get a nutrition consult for advice on how to stay well nourished during their treatments. The beauty of this approach is that they have the benefit of someone who understands both the traditional medicines as well as the complementary herbs and supplements guiding them. This helps to avoid drug interactions, which can have serious consequences.

Integrative medicine is a patient centered approach that focuses on the health and well-being of patients and looks at the whole person; mind, body and spirit. It is an approach that has been adopted by a consortium of medical schools around the country that include: University of Arizona, UCLA, UCSF, Columbia University, Duke, Albert Einstein University and George Washington University and is quickly approaching the forefront of emerging medical systems. In my opinion, Integrative medicine is simply good medicine!

To learn more, go to: http://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/

Dr. Robin Miller's career as a physician has been quite varied. She currently serves as the medical director of Triune Integrative Medicine, a highly innovative Integrative Medicine clinic in Medford, Oregon. She is also a medical reporter for KOBI Channel 5, the NBC affiliate in Medford. She has produced the award-winning health series, “Is there a Doctor in the House,” which is shown on the GE-sponsored Patient Channel nationwide. She is a medical columnist for The Daily Courier in Grant's Pass, Oregon, and the host of a teen health podcast. Robin has written the book Kids Ask the Doctor and the book Confessions of the Soul Straight from the Heart.