Integrative medicine is an umbrella term which describes different forms of medicine often referred to as complementary, alternative or holistic. Integrative physicians may utilize ancient forms of medicine such as acupuncture (Chinese Medicine), herbal medicine, Ayurvedic medicine (Indian medicine), as well as incorporate newer forms of healing such as Homeopathy or Anthroposophic Medicine. In addition, there are many other forms of healing which would fit under the umbrella of Integrative Medicine. Conventional medicine is disease-centered, while integrative medicine emphasizes health promotion and facilitation of the body's innate healing abilities. Integrative physicians recommend less-invasive and less-harmful interventions when appropriate. In addition, a special importance is placed on the partnership between the doctor and patient.
We often hear the term ‘individualized medicine.’ What does that mean? There are many tendencies or qualities that are unique to each individual. In Chinese Medicine, five element theory describes qualities associated with the elements metal, wood, water, fire and earth, viewed as the building blocks of the Universe. These five elements should be in mutual balance with each other. If one is too abundant, there will be disharmony. For example, a person may have too much ‘fire,’ leading to a fiery temper.
A homeopathic practitioner strives to understand the ‘constitution’ of their patient. The individual qualities that make each person unique (and out of balance) often influence the treatment plan just as much (or more) than treating the symptoms. Another important element is lifestyle. Is your lifestyle health promoting? Are you living in harmony with your environment and the people in your life? Viewing each patient as a unique individual with specific needs sharply contrasts with conventional medicine's "one pill for one ill" strategy.