Integrative Medicine is a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.
We are on the verge of an important and welcome shift in our health care paradigm. An opinion in the Wall Street Journal dated January 9, 2009 entitled “Alternative Medicine is Mainstream,” notes that we practice a “disease care system” in North America with at least 75% of costs spent on treating chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. These diseases can be preventable and may even be reversible through lower cost and lower technological interventions such as diet, exercise, and stress reduction techniques. This all leads to better health, increases patient empowerment, fosters disease prevention and most importantly contributes to the shift toward a health care system instead of one predicated on managing illness and disease.
Consumers are demanding more from their health care than just an expensive prescription. In 1990, 34% of patients were using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) (Eisenberg DM et al, NEJM, 1993), and by 2002, 62% of Americans were using remedies outside of their mainstream care (NIH, 2002). These statistics can be extrapolated to our Canadian population.