The term “Integrative Medicine” defines an approach to healing that utilizes conventional practices taught in traditional medical schools as well as practices taught outside of this conventional model. The term Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) may be used to define the latter, whereas Integrative Medicine “refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness.” It is a patient-centered approach to care that not only seeks to eradicate disease or illness but also promotes optimal health and wellness.
A major focus of Integrative Medicine (IM) is on lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise, discussed in a level of detail not commonly explored in conventional medicine. Integrative Medicine also places a strong emphasis on the importance of sleep, stress, environment, social support, spirituality, and the effects that they may have on wellness. Many CAM disciplines also emphasize these holistic factors in their evaluation of the patient or client; it is this focus on holism that encourages many IM practitioners to frequently incorporate CAM modalities into their array of treatment options. Although many CAM modalities are utilized in the practice of IM, it is important to recognize that IM and CAM are not interchangeable terms. Integrative Medicine practitioners may call upon CAM modalities as part of their treatment plan, but they also utilize conventional medical practices and lifestyle modifications when deemed beneficial for the patient. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a center within the National Institutes of Health, has classified five domains of CAM listed in Table 33-1.
Table 33-1.NCCAM classification of CAM. ||Download (.pdf) Table 33-1. NCCAM classification of CAM.
|Domain ||Examples |
|Alternative medicine systems ||Traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; ayurveda; naturopathy; homeopathy |
|Mind–body interventions ||Meditation; hypnosis; guided imagery; dance, art, and music therapy; spiritual healing |
|Biological-based therapies ||Herbal medicines and dietary supplements; special diets |
|Manipulative and body-based methods ||Chiropractic; osteopathic manual medicine; massage; other “body-work” systems |
|Energy therapies ||Reiki; therapeutic touch; magnets; methods that affect the body’s “bioelectric” field |
To practice IM, most clinicians seek formal training by way of university-based fellowship training and/or board certification through the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. A new board certification, the American Board of Integrative Medicine, has been developed through the American Board of Physician Specialties. Some IM practitioners are trained in conventional practices and seek additional training and certification in one of the specific CAM modalities listed above. For example, some conventionally trained practitioners are also trained in acupuncture, naturopathy, or manual medicine, broadening their skill set. Self-guided study is also available via conferences or training seminars focused on particular areas of research or practice.
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