According to the Australian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA), Integrative medicine is a philosophy of healthcare with a focus on individual patient care and combining the best of conventional western medicine and evidence-based complementary medicine and therapies within current mainstream medical practice.
Integrative Medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, health care professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing. It takes into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of the person with the aim of using the most appropriate, safe and evidence-based treatments available. IM is more advanced and popular in the United States, and is its own specialist area.
The Principles of Integrative Medicine:
- A partnership between patient/client and practitioner in the healing process
- Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response
- Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body
- A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically
- Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms
- Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible
- Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease
- Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development
I came across Integrative Medicine (IM) a number of years ago and its philosophy of an integrative, holistic approach greatly appealed to me. This appeal was on two levels, one as a health care practitioner, and the other as a patient, or consumer. Doctors and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners fundamentally approach human health and disease from different angles, and utilise different tools and treatments. As a patient, seeing both of these separately had its drawbacks. Mostly in that both were trying to help, but either didn’t regard the other in a positive light or their approaches seemed contradictory. Who was I meant to listen to? Which advice should I follow?
So when Integrative Medicine came into my awareness I had hope that this approach would cut out the contradictions and feeling of separateness, and instead be far more holistic. What I discovered over a journey that’s been over several years, is that while IM is definitely an advancement on the standard Western Medicine approach, it still had its limitations. In Australia, IM is progressing but is still in its formative years (particularly in comparison to the United States, for example). Those who identifying themselves as Integrative Medicine practitioners are usually GPs who have also studied CAM (such as nutritional medicine, naturopathy, herbal medicine, etc) and work within the principles of IM. While these practitioners may acknowledge the impacts of psychological, emotional, spiritual and social factors on health, few specifically address them in the context of their treatment. Some refer to other practitioners for mental health support, however this can be an area that can go without sufficient care or attention.
What Mainspring offers Integrative Medicine
This is where the Mainspring Method can offer Integrative Medicine a handy solution for the mind-body space. In my opinion, it’s not enough to “consider” all factors that influence health, but to take the time and effort to really understand the depth that the mind and its associated functions has on health and recovery from illness. Mainspring provides the structure needed for a practitioner to facilitate a client’s self-healing capabilities (through the mind), whether this is the IM practitioner/doctor, or a complementary referral partner.
Fundamentally, IM and Mainspring share many common philosophies and I have designed Mainspring to fit within an Integrative Medicine model, accounting for two important areas within The Integrative Medicine Wheel (see above image) not always sufficiently addressed by IM practitioners and centres:
- Mind-Body Medicine
- Lifestyle & Behaviour
This is where it gets exciting, because as a complementary health option it covers two of the most important areas related to the recovery of illness. To learn more about how mind-body medicine helps those with chronic health conditions to reduce symptoms or, in many cases, fully recover from their conditions, read about mainspring, and my soon-to-be-published book, Deep Connection, which will be available in early 2017.