What is an integrative doctor?

For a long time there was a perceived divide between modern or ‘western’ medicine and complementary or ‘alternative’ medicine. Both medical schools of thought trace their roots back to plant-based healing used in pre-Victorian societies, however the key difference between the two lies in the process behind the decision-making that informs their methods. Some might call this perspective.

With both western and complementary medicine the aim is the same – to bring an unwell person back to optimal health. The divergence comes in the best way to do this.

In the past practitioners of western medicine typically treated illnesses in isolation to the rest of the body. They used medicines that were highly refined and proven to be safe and effective in large scale, tightly controlled clinical trials.

Complementary medicine on the other hand treats illness as a symptom of an imbalance involving the whole of the body and the whole of the person – both physical and mental. Medicines used are commonly selected based on hundreds, if not thousands of years of anecdotal evidence.

However increasingly proponents of both healing paradigms are looking over the fence and seeing value in some aspects of what the other side is doing.

Western medicine practitioners are increasingly becoming aware of the growing body of evidence supporting the whole-of-mind-and-body approach. More and more peer-reviewed empirical trials are clearly demonstrating that no illness happens in isolation to the rest of the body and whole-of-body therapies like diet, exercise, and brain training can sometimes generate far better results than any drug regime.

In a similar fashion complementary medicine practitioners are increasingly becoming aware that their industry needs to keep step with community expectations around safety, consistency, and scientific evidence to back up certain health claims. They realise that a more professional, evidence-based approach will go a long way to win over new supporters.

The two philosophies are slowly, surely, starting to engage in dialogue and improve treatments from the teachings of the other. This growing mutual-respect is manifested in the increasing number of integrative doctors practicing medicine in our communities.

Integrative doctors take the best of both western and complementary medicine to provide their patients with the highest level of individualised health care. They adopt the whole-of-body-and-mind approach and use treatments that are evidence-based. Greater emphasis is also placed on preventative health care.

The National Institute of Integrative Medicine describes it this way:

“Integrative Medicine combines orthodox and complementary medicines and/or therapies with a holistic approach, towards whole person care. The aim is to use the most appropriate and safe evidence-based medical approach to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. We need to clarify that integrative medicine is not `alternative` medicine – but `complementary` to current medicine. It is about combining safe and effective complementary medicines & therapies into practice. It incorporates the philosophy of a preventive approach to healthcare and also involves the patient as an active participant in their own healing.”

Integrative doctors have the flexibility of mind to consider new ways of thinking about health care but do so against the backdrop of many years of medical and scientific training.

For more information on the work of integrative doctors or to find one near you visit the integrative medicine page on our website: https://www.customcompounding.com.au/doctor-locator/.