Alternative Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Are you confused between the terms, “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, and “integrative medicine”? Would you like to know what the difference is between these three terms? Below is a simplified definition and illustration of each of these terms for your benefit.
In order to understand alternative medicine, complementary medicine and integrative medicine you must first understand what constitutes alternative medicine and conventional medicine.
Medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy and other allied health professionals such as physical therapists, registered nurses, and psychologists all practice conventional medicine. You may hear or read about other terms for conventional medicine including “Western medicine”, “mainstream medicine”, “orthodox medicine”, “regular medicine” or “allopathic medicine”.
Alternative medicine is what is used by those who are completely replacing conventional ways of dealing with symptoms and illness with the practices and procedures associated with healing through natural therapies and methods that have nothing to do with conventional medicine ways such as pharmaceutical drugs, and surgery.
Conventional medicine tends to treat illnesses by the symptoms presented. In cubicle #5 is a broken arm, in cubicle #8 is a nosebleed, in #2 is preterm labor. The patient is defined by the presenting symptoms and the treatment is symptom-oriented. Drugs are prescribed to get rid of or mask the symptom without usually addressing the cause of the symptom. Alternative medicine focuses on the whole person, not the presenting symptom.
Alternative medicine has a 5000+-year history and is strongly rooted in ancient Chinese medicine and Indian (Ayuryedic medicine), as well as other cultures. There is a common belief no matter which culture we examine that says that the energy of the body is required to be in harmony with the mind and spirit to facilitate healing.
In order for alternative medicine healing to take place a practitioner or doctor merely identifies and then takes away obstacles that would prevent healing from taking place. During the course of the healing the individual is instructed on lifestyle changes, self-care and preventative measures that can be taken to facilitate healing of his/her body, mind and spirit.
In the art of healing using alternative medicine the body may be massaged, manipulated or relaxed and brought into harmony with the mind and spirit. Massage therapy, chiropractic care and reflexology are all methods and therapies that embody the beliefs revolving around the body healing itself.
Energy medicine is a part of alternative medicine and involves energy fields that are used to help the body parts heal that have become out of harmony. Examples of energy medicine are Tai Chi, Raiki, and therapeutic touch.
Complementary medicine is using the practices of alternative medicine in harmony with conventional medicine so that the patient receives the benefit of the healing powers of a particular practice of alternative medicine such as aromatherapy or acupuncture along with a procedure that is conventional medicine such as surgery.
Integrative medicine is a “complete approach to patient care” and those that practice it are focused on the whole patient including the body, mind and spirit of the individual presenting with an illness.
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