The Promise of Integrative Medicine

Disillusioned by decades of illness-focused medicine, more docs and sufferers are actually shifting their focus to whole-person health. Ancient practices (yoga), various therapies (acupuncture), and commonsense strategies (dietary counseling) are complementing typical therapies, expanding our notions of therapeutic — and leading the way in which to larger effectively-being and vitality.

Barbara Wick always had a intestine feeling she’d get cancer – and when her younger sister died of breast cancer in 1996, Wick’s considerations turned even more concrete. So when she started feeling bloated and experiencing belly discomfort a couple of summers ago, she felt certain she oknew the diagnosis. When she went to the physician, her internist told her the symptoms had been in all probability nothing. Wick, 63, insisted on more testing.

Her gynecologist found ovarian cancer. “He told me it didn’t look very good,” says the Chicago-area resident. “I underwent a full hysterectomy and debulking (the removal of as a lot cancerous tissue as doable), and they removed cancer cells from my abdomen, too.”

After the surgery, Wick’s oncologist started her on the standard routine of chemotherapy. After which he did something that is a relatively new growth in typical medicine: He referred her to an integrative medicine (IM) program. Below the care of Karen Koffler, MD, director of the IM program at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare (ENH) in Glenview, Ill., Wick began to meditate and apply yoga. On Koffler’s advice she made major adjustments to her diet, chopping sugar because it exacerbates inflammation, and growing cruciferous vegetables identified to assist battle cancer. She additionally sought therapeutic massage remedy, which decreases stress and eases pain.

Almost three years later, and 10 months after chemotherapy, Wick believes this integrative method – blending typical medical therapies with unconventional therapies – has been essential to her healing.

Wick isn’t alone: Thirty-six p.c of Americans used some type of complementary and different therapies in 2002, according to a nationwide government survey. Rising healthcare costs – combined with frustration and disappointment concerning the limitations of conventional medicine – are driving many to discover complementary, alternative and integrative solutions they could have previously overlooked.

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Complementary? Different? It’s tempting to lump everything outside of mainstream medical care into one big heap, however the phrases describing these new options for healthcare aren’t interchangeable. The National Center for Complementary and Different Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the Nationwide Institutes of Health, offers these definitions:

Complementary and Different Medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and healthcare programs, practices, and merchandise that are not presently considered to be a part of typical medicine. Therapies encompassed by CAM include things like acupuncture, vitamin, chiropractic, herbs, bodywork, yoga, qigong and aromatherapy.