Q: Is integrated / functional medicine an Alternative Medicine approach?
A: Integrated or functional medicine is “alternative” in the sense that it will use any treatment that has been proven to work. It is not narrowly defined as a “medicine approach” - research indicates that lifestyle is the number one contributor to chronic dis-ease. As such integrative health focuses on lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, rational thinking, stress management, supplementation of micro- and macro nutrients, establishing harmonious relationships and ensuring that all physiological systems are in balance to not only move people away from dis-ease, but also to prevent dis-ease.
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine but is not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. Integrated healing in contrast is based exclusively on scientifically verifiable research – there are strict criteria to ensure that the research is of a very high quality (for instance – it must be a Double Blind Placebo Controlled study published in a reputable journal).
Q: What is integrative health’s approach to the practice of conventional medicine?
A: There are areas where modern medicine excels and where it is the number one choice of treatment; such as emergency medicine (heart attack), trauma (wounds sustained in an accident) and surgery. Integrative health also values the diagnostic capability of modern medicine whether it is NMR, MRI or modern laboratory analysis for identifying functional and structural changes in organs and physiological systems.
Where the discipline departs from the current practice of medicine is that there is research based evidence that shows that many natural products and lifestyle changes are as effective and in many cases more effective than medication. We further do not treat symptoms or organs – we treat people and thus strive to exam all relevant aspects that might contribute to dis-ease and to find the causes for dis-ease and to resolve these causes.
Research clearly shows that no two people react in the same fashion to health interventions. As such we treat every person as unique and we adapt our interventions to address the unique aspects that maintain dis-ease states in every individual person.
Lastly, we work with our patients in a collaborative relationship. This is not a one visit cure. Becoming healthy often takes weeks and months and therefore continuous contact between patient and healthcare professional is essential to enable changes in the treatment and to re-assess to ensure that the dis-ease has been resolved. Absence of symptoms does not equate with health.
Q: How will my consultation with my Integrative Healthcare Practitioner be different from that of visiting my doctor?
A: Your integrative healthcare practitioner will spend more time understanding your condition, lifestyle, work situation, relationships, your family history (dis-ease often run in families), your current diet and aspirations. You can expect to be supplied - at least – two questionnaires that you will need to complete, before your first consultation. While these take up some of your time it assures that there is a systematic appraisal of your dis-ease.
During your first consultation you can expect more probing questions to enable your healthcare professional to better understand your situation. At the end of this session your healthcare professional will inform you of his/her suspicions of what is going on with you, and discuss laboratory tests to be performed to specifically identify what is causing your dis-ease.
Once the laboratory results have been received you will be contacted for another appointment where the results will be discussed with you and suggestions made of how to rectify the causes of your dis-ease. Once you and your healthcare professional agree on a course of action he will provide you with a report that clearly illustrates how different aspects contribute to your dis-ease and he will include the program that had been agreed upon. A follow-up appointment will then be scheduled.