What is Integrative Medicine?

1. Overview of the Topic – Summary:

Integrative Medicine (IM) is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.” [1] As defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Integrative Medicine “combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.”

From ScienceDirect: Integrative medicine is defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes into account the concept of “the whole person” (i.e., encompassing body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of one’s lifestyle.

2. What is the focus of this Topic?:

Integrative Medicine works with many different modalities, from Complementary Medicine to Allopathic Medicine to provide best treatments for good health and healing. As stated by Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the leaders and proponents of IM, “It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.”[2]

Integrative Medicine has become more common in the US in the past twenty years by providing the patient with a larger scope of health care solutions. As such, it has strived to include and empower the patient to utilize more options for better health, including more traditional therapies such as acupuncture, yet also includes a more active lifestyle including yoga and meditation.

A key facet of IM is that included in the defining principles of Integrative Medicine is the statement, “All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.” [3]

3. Why it’s listed here – What is the relevance to Architectural Medicine?

Integrative Medicine has a very important role related to the process of Architectural Medicine, in that a core principle of IM is to review one’s entire life and environment in terms of how your health is impacted.

By considering the many facets of health and of illness, including the built environment, the following statement by Dr. David Rakel summarizes the importance of considering the many facets of medicine for good health, “Integrative medicine recognizes all of the potential influences on one’s health. It is the study of the human ecology that includes the physical and nonphysical factors of how humans interact with their environment. Care is applied through relationships that provide insight into each individual’s unique situation and needs.”

It is this attention to recognize “the physical and nonphysical factors of how humans interact with their environment”, that connects IM to the core focus of Architectural Medicine, which is Health and Wellness in the Built Environment.

4. Common groups and individuals involved with this topic:

There have been many pioneers in the process of “integrating” different modalities of health and medicine, yet the most popular advocate is Dr. Andrew Weil. If you are not familiar with Dr. Weil and his clear explanations of Integrative Medicine, here is a short video (2:34 total time), with a great overview of why these approaches can be helpful, along with the premise of these choices:

The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine has been a common location for medical professionals, as well as the public, to find updated information and resources about Integrative Medicine.

Other advocates include Duke Integrative Medicine and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

5. Resources: