The Role Integrated Medicine Plays in Natural Health and Living

Integrative medicine is an increasingly popular method for treating people with a variety of medical conditions, and many of these approaches are utilized in a complementary manner with traditional techniques such as prescription medication and surgery.

In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicates that almost 40 percent of U.S. adults have turned to integrative medicine at least once.[1] Studies have also found that 83 percent of cancer patients use a mixture of integrative medicine and a standard treatment plan.[2] With this in mind, it is no wonder that so many people are turning to integrative medicine to help them be healthier and live a more natural life.

What Exactly is Integrated Medicine?

Anything that is used to treat a medical condition that does not involve pharmaceuticals, surgical options or other standard Western treatments falls under the heading of integrative medicine. For example, many people are now turning to massage therapy or acupuncture to treat everything from chronic pain to insomnia, and even yoga and meditation can become part of a complementary integrative plan.

The most commonly used alternative to prescription medication is natural products such as fish oil and echinacea. As of 2007, 17.7 percent of adults in the U.S. had used a natural product that was not a mineral or vitamin, and the popularity of these options is steadily increasing.[3]

The Importance of Staying Informed about Your Patients’ Integrative Medicine Plans

Many doctors are now recommending integrative options such as massage, but even if this is not the case in your situation, it is still necessary to encourage each of your patients to keep you fully in the loop. After all, dietary supplements and herbal medications can have negative interactions with each other, and it is also possible for them to interact in a negative way with prescriptions. Additionally, you can utilize electronic health records (EHR) to ensure that everything is properly tracked so that each of your patients is able to receive the best results from a complementary integrative approach.

According to healthcare.net, there are now several ways that patients can be involved in their care and communicate with their doctors that are using integrated healthcare.[4] We now see these options open for traditional healthcare along with alternative therapies. Chief among these ways are contact centers, patient portals through websites, mobile apps, secure notifications (E-mails and text messages, etc.) and social media. These options provide a wide variety of ways for patients to communicate their health records instantaneously for their provider to access and allows both healthcare provider and patient to manage their care in a real-time scenario that has never been available until recently.

Working with Patients Who Utilize Integrative Medicine

It is vital to recognize the fact that integrative medicine is an essential component of treating the entire person instead of just their disease. Using nonconventional complementary treatments such as yoga, massage therapy and herbal medicine can help reduce the patient’s level of stress, and this alone will be extremely beneficial for most people. After all, being diagnosed with a serious medical condition is highly stressful, but staying in a stressed out state will only compromise their immune system even further. Therefore, using outside the box techniques to treat the individual’s body, mind and spirit at the same time can have a big impact on their quality of life.

Why is Integrative Medicine so Popular?

Many people have grown weary of undergoing extensive medical treatments and using prescription medications on a daily basis. Additionally, the cost of traditional treatment methods can be astronomical, even with high-quality insurance. There is also a growing movement toward developing a more natural lifestyle, and this makes some people highly attracted to alternative options. Although a regular treatment plan is often the best course of action, this does not mean that integrative medicine cannot serve an important complementary function.

In fact, embracing new methods can be beneficial for you and your patients. For example, the Veterans Administration has recently started reducing the amount of prescription pain pills that they prescribe in favor of yoga, massage therapy and acupuncture. Although this has caused some complaints from veterans, it is reducing the amount of people who are addicted to prescription medication.

Ultimately, it is healthier to remove any unnecessary medications from each patient’s life. Therefore, if someone has a condition that can be at least partially treated with integrative medicine, it makes sense to take advantage of this option.

[1] http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nalini-chilkov/cancer-complimentary-medicine-_b_838191.html

[3] http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam

[4] http://healthcareoutsourcing.net/5-ways-to-improve-patient-access-support/

[5] http://wavy.com/2014/07/21/va-makes-changes-to-prescription-pain-killer-policy/

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