Integrative, Complementary Alternative and Functional Medicine
Integrative Medicine (IM) is a new discipline with its own specialty centers, fellowship programs , and certification processes¹ . This approach augments traditional medicine by integrating a blend of traditional and non-traditional approaches to help a person obtain optimal health. A holistic and preventive framework guide both the practitioner and client toward a greater sense of health, freedom and joy in every aspect of life. IM includes complementary alternative medicine (CAM) as well as functional medicine (FM) within it's scope. Mariano² defines CAM as a broad set of healthcare practices, therapies, and modalities that address the whole person-body, mind emotion, spiritual, and environmental, not just signs and symptoms-and CAM may replace or be used as complements to conventional Western medical, surgial and pharmacologist treatments. Many approaches may be needed to help a person heal. There are no "bullet drugs" or treatments to fix us. Each indivdual has a particular need, and no one practitioner, physician, drug or discipline can solve everyone's ailments.
Functional Medicine is an emerging field in medicine with a special emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle interventions. Maintaining a balance of cognitive/emotional and physical processes, wellness is achieved³. Nurses have a particular role in promoting functional medicine. The art and science of nursing moves beyond understanding a client's chemistry, diagnosis and ailments from a medical point of view. Nurses and especially Integrative Nurse Coaches consider with a client, their health, energy and balance through an expanded, holistic and integrative perspective.
Our health care system is ailing. The only way to improve it is to stop using it in the way it has been used. With the advent of Integrative Medicine, we have more choices than ever. Prevention is a key to allay problems, but know that chronic disease patterns may also be stopped after years of being told "nothing can be done". In my experience, this statement from a person in authority is one of the most devastating to our health.
Another devastating problem is our over use of medication. Prescribed well, a medications is best used as a temporary stabilizer to get the body back on track. Getting back on track may mean behavior and lifestyle changes (dietary changes or more movement for example). Medication works, but the side effects that come along with them cause great damage to our bodies, as well as take over processes that the body has difficulty regaining when the medication is stopped. This cycle of dependence on a drug can be devastating when financial means changes, and/or complications continue. Read or listen to tween the discovery of psychotropic medication and the rising numbers of those afflicted with mental illness. Research proves that these medications may actually make the problem worse, not better.
As we further define what is the optimal health of a human, our findings lead us back to our natural beginnings. We need to eat well. move frequently and enjoy our surroundings as well as our relationships. The concept of simplicity plays an important role. Please consider your options.
1.Explore, The Journal of Science and Healing, Nov/Dec 2012 , Patients Seek Integrative Medicine for Preventive Approach to Optimize Health, Original Research, Abrams, et al, pg. 348
2. Holistic Nursing A Handbook for Practice, Mariano, C., p. 59
3. Holistic Nursing A Handbook for Practice, 2012, Luck, S., p. 265