Integrative medicine can best be defined as the combination of alternative medicine such as holistic medicine with treatments and healthy lifestyle options that are proven to work. The goal is to optimize the overall health of the patient instead of just managing their diseases or illnesses as needed. Instead of treating conditions by symptom or dealing problems as they occur, this form of medicine focuses more on prevention and treating the entire body. With traditional conventional medicine, individuals have become used to only going to the doctor when they are ill and only being treated based on whatever their current problem may be. Integrative medicine attempts to prevent these conditions from occurring in the future by analyzing the overall risk factor for the individual and minimizing those risks based on healthy behavior.
Treatment from a conventional medicine method would put the doctor in complete control of treatment, telling the patient what they should do and how it should be handled. In contrast, the use of integrative medicine means that individuals are working within more of a partnership with their doctor. There may be a team of other doctors or healthcare professionals involved. Treatments used may be herbal or focus more on changing specific lifestyle behaviors in order to encourage the most positive and healthy result for the patient. The patient and the doctor work together to achieve healthier goals which will have a lasting effect in treating the condition or preventing it within the long run.
Many individuals view integrative medicine as a way to treat the mind, body, and soul all at once. Sometimes it requires for the individual to make changes to their personality or their schedule to encourage the better lifestyle for themselves. As time has progressed, this option has increased greatly in use within hospitals. Some insurance plans even offer certain aspects of integrative medicine to be covered by their insurance. The goal is also to improve the relationship between doctors and their patients. In the typical setting, patients feel like they are not important to their doctor because their diagnosis is rushed and they are simply put on medication until it is no longer necessary. In contrast, integrative medicine seeks doctors that will provide patients with genuine interest and insight, creating a plan together for the overall success and recovery of the patient. These options are often now viewed as complementary therapies within many hospitals.