Integrative Medicine: Seeking to Treat the Whole Person

by | Nov 6, 2012 | Health And Fitness

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In many medical communicates, integrative medicine gets a bad rap. Doctors trained in Western conventional schools have little patience for modalities that appear to them to be based on anecdotal evidence that resembles little more than folklore, and prefer the solid rock of what they consider to be a more objective and staid methodology.


Practitioners of integrative medicine, however, believe that traditional Western medicine has truncated the diagnostic process to treat specific systems isolated from the organic whole of which they are a part. Therefore, while not always disavowing the uses of traditional medicine, many genuine medical doctors who practice integrative medicine seek to treat the whole person and not just isolated or fragmented symptomatic aspects of the person. A more holistic method means addressing underlying causes on the primary level, which means treating the real issue rather than just dealing with symptoms and results.


One of the problems with using medication to address symptomology rather than seeking to view the person in a more full and complete context is that it does not bring final resolution to the disease of pathology. A metaphor that illustrates the problem of conventional medicine is that it is like a gardener who merely cuts off the tops of weeds rather than pulling them out by the roots. The metaphor, however, doesn’t completely hold because specific symptoms may be treated by conventional medicine in such a way as to prevent recurrence, while the underlying pathology remains intact, and may be expressed in other kinds of symptoms.


Conventional Western medical doctors often criticize alternative medicine due to a perceived lack of scientific rigor and investigation, particularly when it comes to prayer and spiritual dimensions of human personality. On the one hand, they may have a point in regard to the proliferation of products sold by con artists out to make a buck. On the other hand, it is never a good idea to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water, either. A denial of the soulful or spiritual aspects of human personality may be a truncation of a mature anthropological understanding that by its very nature makes true and full diagnosis of unhealthy conditions a virtual impossibility.


Integrative medicine provides support and comfort while determining the biochemistry unique to each individual. This biochemical information allows a course of treatment to be developed that will position the body to heal itself. Though prescription medication may, at times, be necessary, limiting the use of them whenever possible and instead employing nutrients and natural detoxifiers can often promote natural healing. Integrative medicine treats the body, mind, and spirit (i.e., the whole patient) which addresses areas of personal weakness .