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					The Power of Integrative Medicine
INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE

As a medical biochemist I have been working for many years side by side with
medical doctors toward the same goal – to protect and heal patients from
diseases. During my professional training program I got very basic knowledge
of medicine, but I never understood why highly trained medical professionals
were never taught anything about self-healing and the natural healing
capacity of human beings. I asked myself why they were so uncomfortable
with alternative (traditional) therapies and spirituality. Where are all the free
thinkers in modern medicine that have the power to bring attention to
alternative therapies?
My next question was; is modern medicine neglecting our natural mind-body
connection? I hope, not. Although integrative medicine is gaining recognition
by the medical establishment, the pace is much too slow. By the end of their
training, many doctors feel that the compassion and spirit which drew them to
medicine has been lost. Why is that?

To better understand the terms used in this article, I would like to give you a
few definitions:

Modern medicine, also known as western, regular or conventional medicine,
is focused mainly on the physical aspect of the body for treatment. Another
name for modern medicine is allopathic medicine.

Alternative medicine, known as traditional or natural medicine, is a general
term given to wide range of therapies, most of which are more than 100 years
old. Alternative medicine takes a holistic approach, meaning that it does not
involve only the physical body, but also considers the mind and spirit. It
defines health as a state of complete balance between the mind, body, and
spirit.

Integrative Medicine combines western and alternative approaches and
supplements, but does not replace conventional therapy. Integrative medicine
neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative medicine
uncritically.

At the very beginning of the Integrative medicine era, many
physicians were faced with a huge dilemma: either they learn and incorporate
alternative therapies into their practice or they ignore them. But to incorporate
them was to take a risk, the risk of losing the trust and confidence of their
patients who were accustomed to other therapies. Also, physicians didn’t want
to violate the sacrosanct principle they were taught: “First, Do Not Harm”.
They were afraid of trying something new or different because conventional
science tells us that “alternative treatment can’t work because we don’t know
how it works “!

The dilemma is understandable from a medical point of view.
Modern medicine wants everything to be explained scientifically and logically.
That’s OK, but, on the other hand, there is a demand for alternative medicine,
which people have tried and benefited from. How should one respond to huge
demands for alternative methods? If alternative therapies work, and we know
they do, then physicians need to consider them. Happily, they finally are doing
so.

The medical profession is finally learning the ancient theory
that we cannot understand disease unless we understand the person who has
the disease and accept the fact that the mind and body are bound together.
Our minds and bodies are designed to stay in balance. The great majority of
diseases for which patients seek medical help are in part psychosomatic,
meaning that bodily symptoms are caused by mental or emotional
disturbance.
Therefore, we need the help of science to deal with our health, but we also
need to provide the patient with hope and faith in the treatment. Today’s MD’s
should be emotionally and
scientifically competent to treat psychosomatic illness; if not
the patient will return with another problem! Do you know why?
Because no one looked into why he developed the illness in the first place!

Future generations of physicians need time to become familiar
with integrative medicine. Hopefully they will find the time to
better understand not only illness but also their patients.
Integrative medicine is one step closer to a better relationship
between patient and doctor.

We are glad that we now have Integrative medicine: a combination of
alternative and western medicine, healing-oriented medicine. Integrative
medicine considers the body, mind, and spirit, including lifestyle. This
medicine uses conventional and alternative methods, bringing together the
best of both worlds.

In many cases traditional healing methods were introduced to
western medicine by patients! They brought their own healing
traditions to their MD’s . Actually, they knew their tradition
had been effective for them in the past and they wanted to use them now!

Fortunately, they have found very gifted, open-minded doctors, who let them
use their own healing traditions, but kept a watchful eye on the treatment to
make sure they didn’t hurt their patients. And that’s how modern western
medicine learned about traditional, alternative therapies. Bit by bit, modern
medicine accepted the reality that western medicine can not offer all the
solutions, yet it remains confident in modern science while accepting
alternative treatments.

Integrative medicine use mind-body therapies such as meditation, spiritual
healing, acupuncture, self-hypnosis, mindfulness, stress reduction,
visualization, yoga, Tai Chi, body energy fields, reflexology, massage, guided
imagery, prayer and many other alternative methods. Although we know for
sure that our mind plays a positive role in the healing process, how it does so
remains a mystery!

Yes, integrative medicine brought the patient’s attitude, spirit,
hope, faith, meaning and beliefs into medical offices, definitely
changing the western approach to healing. Integrative medicine is still
surrounded with skepticism and controversy. In the near future, it needs to be
implemented in medical schools and residencies, with more certificate
courses for practicing physicians and other health professionals. The
challenges are many, and the opportunities are great.

Integrative medicine is not only for the ill, but for those who
wish to increase their self-awareness, enhance their well-being, and help
prevent health-related problems. In bringing meditation and other spiritual and
alternative therapies into western medicine, medical professionals have
changed the face of modern medicine.

Thankfully, after many years of denying alternative therapies,
modern western medicine is ready to accept mind/energy oriented therapies
and other alternative treatments as powerful tools in their battle for people’s
health. In this way patients and practitioners are partners in the healing
process.

Today, physicians are more educated about alternative methods yet remain
uncomfortable while practicing it. A new approach to medicine requires a new
approach to medical education. However, this is changing because of newly
introduced training programs in Integrative Medicine. The world of modern
western medicine is changing every day for better, and that is good for
patients.

It is my wish that alternative therapies will gradually play more important role
in our current medical system.

Jahiel – Yasha- Kamhi
jasakamhi@hotmail.com


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posted:12/31/2010
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