Integrated or Integrative Medicine
Integrated or Integrative medicine is practising medicine in a way that selectively incorporates elements of Complementary and Alternative medicine into comprehensive treatment plans alongside solidly orthodox methods of diagnosis and treatment.
Integrative medicine is not simply a synonym for Complementary medicine. It has a larger meaning and mission with it s focus being on health and healing, rather than only on disease and treatment. It views patients as whole people with minds and spirits as well as bodies, and includes these dimensions into diagnosis and treatment.
It also involves patient and doctor working together to restore and maintain health by paying attention to lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, quality of rest, stresses and the nature of relationships. Conventional medicine has become ever more dependent on high-tech solutions, and turned its back on holism and holistic therapy treatments, and on simple and effective methods of intervention.
The Chinese model for the levels of intervention provides an excellent example, which can be modified to suit many other modalities:
Diet - Exercise - Massage - Herbs - Acupuncture - Poisons - Knife
Conventional medicine relies heavily on the last 2 modalities: Drugs and Surgery. An Integrative approach should start at the left with dietary correction.
A state of dis-ease
Chronic disease is often complex, and usually several modalities have to be employed to achieve good results. Apart from the well-documented chronic diseases, there exists a grey area between defined disease and complete wellness. This so-called state of dis-ease is often a cause of great frustration to both the conventional medical doctor and the patient. This is because the patient persists in feeling unwell in spite of normal results from all the traditionally available tests.
The drugs used to combat the symptoms are often ineffective or cause more problems. This is a very common scenario in which the patient may endure many months of harsh treatments, suffering and frustration. Consequently, the poor patient is finally referred, in desperation, for a psychiatric assessment and treatment . An integrative approach in these situations can provide much needed relief.
Healing vs Suppression
It is important to make the distinction between suppression of symptoms and true healing of a condition. In an acute bronchitis, for example, the antibiotic will suppress the infection by killing the bacteria, thus allowing the Life Force to bring about healing of the condition. In chronic disease, though, the drugs usually just suppress the symptoms.
This may continue for as long as the drugs are administered, but as soon as the drugs are stopped the symptoms usually return. This is because healing has not been allowed to take place. Many patients are happy to continue with chronic medication, as it allows them reasonable quality of life, without the effort of having to make changes to their lifestyle.
The symptoms of the disease are in reality the signals that the Life Force is emitting, in an attempt to get correct interpretation and healing. If these vital signals are suppressed each time they appear, the disease process is driven to a deeper level in the body. Let us take the example of a child with eczema, who presents with symptoms of an itchy, scaly rash.
The conventional treatment would be to apply cortisone creams to suppress the rash. This eventually drives the pathology to a deeper level and the child may develop asthma. Although the eczema may have disappeared, it has not been cured but merely re-appeared as asthma. If the asthma is suppressed for years with a cortisone inhaler, it too can appear to recede, only to be replaced by hay fever.
Chronic diseases can NOT be cured by suppressing the symptoms. Only treatments that recognise the clues that the Life Force is emitting, and work with them with natural, energetic tools, have any chance of assisting the body back to true health. Examples of such treatments include constitutional Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Acupuncture , Functional medicine and others, which all form part of an Integrative approach.
True healing is when the person has regained a sense of health and vitality, without the continued need of any kind of medicine but rather holistic remedies to support the vital force in the early stages of the dis ease.
The Germ vs the Terrain
Louis Pasteur, who died 100 years ago, was responsible for the promotion of the germ theory of infection and disease. He discovered pasteurisation and disinfection, which have become so important to modern surgical aseptic procedures. Another Frenchman and colleague, Claude Bechamp, developed a contrasting theory that the integrity of the terrain of the organism or body is far more important in warding off infections. He proclaimed that if one maintains a healthy lifestyle, one’s immune system would be stronger, which means that one will not be susceptible to all the germs in your environment i.e. the terrain is strong.
Pasteur, on the other hand, advocated killing all the germs in order to prevent disease. Pasteur and Bechamp were vociferous adversaries throughout their lives, but it is interesting to note that on his death bed Pasteur finally acknowledged that he was wrong and Bechamp was right: “le terrain est tout” [the terrain is everything]. Conventional medicine to this day follows the Pasteur theory, while practitioners of Natural medicine advocate the truth of the terrain theory put forward by Bechamp and remedy to it with natural therapy and even better, with holistic therapy treatments.