The conventional approach to medicine in the U.S. leaves a lot to be desired. It feels like insurance companies dictate care as much as health care providers do. Doctors sometimes focus more on the disease than the patient, prescribing medications with life-altering side effects. These are not examples of integrative medicine, which takes a different approach to health care.
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine is patient-centered care. Doctors who practice integrative medicine seek to treat the patient as a whole person, caring for their minds and spirit as well as their bodies. They use the best of conventional medicine as well as evidence-backed alternative practices, keeping in mind what will give each patient the best overall quality of life.
Examples of Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine doctors do use conventional treatments such as prescription medications or chemotherapy for cancer patients. They are open to alternative practices as well, though, as long as those practices are backed with evidence, such as peer-reviewed studies. Alternative practices include any treatment approaches that are not typically used in conventional medicine. Here are a few examples of integrative medicine:
Meditation is one of the most powerful “alternative” practices out there, and there is ample evidence to show its efficacy in several areas:
- Stress reduction. Stress is incredibly harmful to the body, and almost unavoidable in modern life. Stress increases cortisol levels, which can cause inflammation, disrupt sleep and increase blood pressure. Meditation helps reduce stress, which is helpful for your body and mind.
- Improved sleep. Insomnia is frustrating and hard on the body. Meditation has been shown to improve sleep quality.
- Lowered pain. Meditation has been shown to lower sensitivity to pain and improve chronic pain.
An integrative medicine practitioner may recommend meditation for these reasons and to improve your quality of life.
Acupuncture is a practice that originated in China, and it involves using very thin needles to stimulate the body. It has been shown to be effective for treating many conditions, including:
- Chronic pain.
Acupuncture does not hurt, and a session can be very relaxing.
Cannabis is an effective treatment for a number of health conditions, including:
- Chronic pain.
- Multiple sclerosis.
Integrative medicine practitioners may prescribe plant-based treatments to complement other treatments, including chemotherapy and prescription medications.
Finding an Integrative Medicine Practitioner
Many doctors practice integrative medicine. It’s essential to look for one who understands the alternative practices you’re interested in as well as your health conditions. For example, Dr. Daniel P. Stein is well-versed in many health conditions. He has 25 years of practice experience and extensive training in neurology. His expertise in neurology gives him unique insights into how the brain impacts a number of health conditions.
Curious about what an appointment with Dr. Stein would look like? Here’s what to expect.