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Integrative Medical Care

Integrative medical care combines the best of western medicine and alternative care in using a holistic approach. Western medical care is very useful in acute and life-threatening conditions. There are also many drugs which are useful and very beneficial when treating health conditions that are far advanced. Surgery when used judiciously can be miraculous. On the other hand, many chronic functional conditions are not even detectable by standard diagnostic medical testing, and treatment is either non-existent, very ineffective or potentially dangerous. There are chronic medical conditions where the drug treatments often cause more problems than they cure. Patients with these conditions often find themselves taking medicines to counteract the side-effects of other drugs. Many drugs are designed only to counteract the disease process and do not rectify the underlying cause of the condition or stimulate the body's healing response.

Many of the "alternative or complementary medical treatments" are more sensitive to diagnosing imbalances in the body before lab tests become abnormal. These complementary practices are often more effective in healing these imbalances and identifying their underlying cause, and side-effects are in general much less. Complementary medicine will try to find patterns and relationships between the various symptoms a patient might be experiencing - thus avoiding having to go to several different specialists for diagnosis and treatment. By emphasizing treatment that promotes the body's self-healing mechanisms, the complementary practitioner promotes the rectification of the disease process and initiates a remission or cure.

Some of the weaknesses of complementary practices are the lack of rigorous testing and research. Much of what is promoted to the public is more profit-motivated than factual and beneficial. Consequently, having an expert to consult with to sort out the hype from substance can be very helpful.

An Integrative medical practitioner knows that the state of the body, the emotions and the spirit all contribute to how well we heal disease by determining the strength of our healing response. Therefore, lifestyle, relationships, personal attitudes and the greater meaning of life - Our Spirit - are all subjects that are essential to holistic health care. The Integrative practitioner appreciates the need for other forms of healing and refers patients for massage, biofeedback, emotional and spiritual counseling, and will encourage patients to take classes in meditation, health education, nutrition and exercise.

Teaching people how to live healthy lives and keep themselves well is the supreme form of medicine. To achieve this goal, an integrative medical practitioner will often associate with a group of other like-minded practitioners to provide this health education.

Larry Freeman, M.D.



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