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Frustrated by a health problem? You may need more than medicine

Integrative medicine puts the focus on prevention.
Integrative medicine puts the focus on prevention.

Everybody wants a quick fix with a magic little pill. For whatever ails you, there must be a drug for it, right? Likely there is. But more physicians are now suggesting that medicine is not the only answer.

While used extensively in other parts of the world, a wide range of “new” therapies are gaining acceptance in the U.S. for providing great relief with no side effects. Practices such as tai chi, reiki, acupuncture and forms of energy medicine might be new to us, but have been in practice for thousands of years with great success. Physicians are now recognizing that when combined with traditional medicine, such therapies can be the extra something you need to get well.

This trend towards integrative medicine is the blending of both conventional medicine and natural therapies that have been proven to work. The goal is to treat the whole person – not just the illness, promoting health of body, mind and spirit. An integrated physician will prescribe medicine as necessary, and also suggest holistic therapies to assist the healing process and address issues that medicine alone cannot.

Gaining acceptance

American MDs are now recognizing the value of combining medicinal prescriptions with natural therapies to provide the healthiest outcome.

“Integrative medicine is the medicine of the 21st century,” says Lynn Klimo, MD, an integrative psychiatrist in Akron, Ohio. “It combines the best areas of conventional medicine and holistic therapies, individualizing treatment to the whole person, and shifting the focus to wellness and prevention by empowering people to take charge of their own health.”

Integrative medicine does not discount conventional western medicine or dismiss the need for drugs. It simply encourages a more well-rounded approach to health. While the teachings of western medicine tend to train doctors to be focused on symptoms, disease and illness, integrative medicine takes a more proactive approach to preventing the illness in the first place.

Growing significance

According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), $33.9 billion was spent on Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments and products. More than half the population – 62 percent of Americans sought holistic treatments.

“With obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression on the rise, now more than ever, we are faced with the limitations of conventional medicine,” says Klimo. “That, combined with growing dissatisfaction with the healthcare system has led patients to seek alternative treatments.”

Next time you see your doctor, you may walk out with more than a prescription for a pill. And it might just be what you need.



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