Integrative Health Overview

What is Integrative Health?

Integrative health is a healing-oriented approach to care that focuses on the whole person, and considers all factors that influence health, wellness and disease including mind, body, spirit and the environment. It reaffirms the importance of the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, and uses all evidence-based, safe and effective therapies to improve health and wellbeing and facilitate the body’s innate healing response, whether they originate in conventional or alternative medicine. It emphasizes the importance of prevention and healthy lifestyle practices, with a focus on teaching and empowering patients with the core principles of self-care and wellness.

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What are Integrative Health Practices and Approaches?

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Patient education on healthy lifestyle practices and self-care, including nutrition and healthy diet, activity and exercise, healthy sleep, and effective approaches to management of stress.

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Use of safe and effective herbals and supplements

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Mind-body therapies (mindfulness meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Hypnosis)

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Group medical visits for education, skill building and social support

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Acupuncture

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Body-based therapies such as Massage and Osteopathic Manipulation.

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Energy Medicine such as Healing Touch and Reiki

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Support of patient-centered, collaborative treatment decisions using Motivational interviewing

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Emphasis on wellness, balance, and the use of natural, less invasive interventions and minimizing excess pharmaceutical and invasive treatments when possible.

Why is Integrative Health Important?

Integrative Health Contributes to Disease Prevention
There is a growing body of evidence-based research looking at the benefits of various components of Integrative Health care for a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, obesity and chronic pain. For example, studies have shown that selective herbals, supplements, and nutritional therapies may improve diabetic control, weight and cholesterol levels, Acupuncture improves a wide spectrum of acute and chronic pain,  and mind-body therapies appear to have beneficial effects on a wide variety of health problems such as anxiety, irritable bowel, insomnia and pain.

Integrative Health Promotes Mental Health and Well-being
Integrative health, through patient empowerment, self-care, non-invasive treatments can positively contribute to improved social functioning, quality of life, stress reduction, improved mental health status and increased individual and family resilience.

Integrative Health Reduces Health Care Costs
In addition to the positive medical, emotional and social outcomes of Integrative Health, several studies have demonstrated the cost savings with the use of Integrative Health care practices.

  • Acupuncture can reduce the need for knee surgery with savings of $9,000 per patient. Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) can reduce days in hospital or nursing home following stroke at a savings of $26,000 per patient and postpone heart surgery due to clinical improvements, resulting in return to work at a total savings of $31,000. (Data from Acupuncture Center, Klampenborg, Denmark)
  • Manipulative therapies for neck pain were as effective as and less costly than physical therapy or care by a general practitioner.