Integrative medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and all styles of acupuncture share the same basic approach to patient care. Each employs a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances. The idea is always to go beyond the treatment of symptoms in order to address all the causes of an illness.
Acupuncturists, like myself, specialize in chronic pain relief, specifically low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. We frequently collaborate with the integrative physician community. It comes as no surprise that doctors are abandoning conventional practices for integrative medicine. A recent study offers a definition of integrative medicine, based on five factors. Take one look at the conditions I treat and you may just see some overlap.
- Integrative medicine treats root causes instead of symptoms.
- Integrative medicine treats the patient as a whole being.
- Integrative medicine focus on optimal health, rather than disease management.
- Integrative medicine emphasizes the physician-patient relationship.
- Integrative medicine accounts for patient lifestyle and environment.
Key findings from this study have extreme relevance to my practice. The responses come from cutting-edge doctors at the forefront of a paradigm shift in medicine. They represent a growing community that is disturbed by the state of healthcare in America.
One finding that grabbed my attention is that integrative doctors spend at least twice as much time with their patients as conventional doctors. This has always been true of my appointments. If you think about it, integrative doctors not only spend more time with their patient, they often recommend acupuncture treatment. Your time with me is a continuation of that level of attention.
Integrative medicine, like traditional Chinese medicine, is a philosophy. It is not taught in medical school. According to the study, 55% of integrative doctors adopted an integrative philosophy post-schooling.
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Integrative physicians use dietary supplements, much like acupuncturists are known to use herbal supplements. These nutritional protocols represent a significant similarity in approach. An overwhelming 84% of integrative doctors utilize them to support their patients’ health.
One last detail I found interesting is the significance of spiritual life. While it is by no means a requirement, it is still a topic that comes up when I get to know my clients. Apparently, this study found that 83% of integrative doctors felt that their patients’ spiritual lives were a critical factor when addressing their health. It is impossible to separate mind, body and spirit. These three aspects of life are all integrated and have a direct relationship to our health.
Perhaps the real question is why do I feel that doctors are abandoning conventional practices for integrative medicine? My own passion for acupuncture has certainly led me down a path that is anything but conventional. While I have always been convinced of acupuncture’s place in legitimate healthcare, I am also aware that you may have just discovered it. This study only proves that a movement exists, consisting of Western doctors inspired by the principles of Eastern philosophy that inspired me. This is my favorite topic of discussion so please feel free to contact me here and continue this discussion in person.