Alternative Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Do you get confused by the following terms: “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, and “integrative medicine”? Would it be nice to know what the difference is between these three terms? Well, here is a simplified definition and illustration of each of these terms for your benefit.

For you to understand alternate medicine, complementary medicine and integrated medicine, one should first understand what comprises alternative medicine and conventional medicine. Medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy and other allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, RNs, and psychologists all practice conventional medicine. You may have heard or read other terms for conventional medicine including “Western medicine”, “mainstream medicine”, “orthodox medicine”, “regular medicine” or “allopathic medicine”.

Alternative medicine applies to a practice that is used by those who are completely substituting conventional ways of dealing with symptoms and sickness. These individuals employ the practices and processes associated with healing through natural therapies and methods. Methods that may not have anything to do with conventional medicine ways. These conventional ways normally include practices such as pharmaceutical drugs, and surgery. Conventional medicine generally tends to address illnesses by the symptoms exhibited. In room #5 is a broken arm, in room #8 is a nosebleed, in room #2 is preterm labor. Each patient is defined by the presenting symptoms and the treatment is symptom-oriented. Subsequently, drugs are prescribed to get rid of or block out the symptom typically without treating the cause of the symptom. But, alternative medicine centers the whole individual, not the presenting symptom.

Alternative medicine is founded on a 5000+ year history and is strongly rooted in ancient Chinese medicine and Indian (Ayuryedic medicine), along with other civilisations. There is a common belief, irrespective of which culture we examine, that says the energy of the body is required to be in harmony with the mind and spirit to facilitate healing.

For alternative medicine healing to come about, a practitioner or doctor simply identifies and then takes away obstacles that would prevent healing from taking place. Over the course of the healing the individual is schooled on lifestyle changes, self-care and preventative measures that can be taken to facilitate healing of his/her body, mind and spirit.

By using the art of healing using alternative medicine the body may be massaged, manipulated or relaxed and brought into harmony with the mind and spirit. Massage therapy, chiropractic care and reflexology are all methods and therapies that embody the beliefs revolving around the body healing itself.

A part of alternative medicine is energy medicine. This involves energy fields that are used to help the body parts heal that have gotten out of harmony. Examples of energy medicine are Tai Chi, Raiki, and therapeutic touch.

Complementary medicine, on the other hand, is using the practices of alternative medicine in harmony with conventional medicine. This way, the patient receives the benefit of the healing powers of a particular practice of alternative medicine such as aromatherapy or acupuncture along with a procedure that is conventional medicine such as surgery.

A “complete approach to patient care” is integrative medicine. Those that apply it are centered the whole patient including the body, mind and spirit of the individual presenting with an illness.

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