Dr. Mark LaBeau - Integrative Medicine in Carmel Valley, California
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine is a patient-focused, whole-person medical practice that uses treatments that are both evidence based as well as experience based. Integrative medicine incorporates a range of disciplines, including alternative and conventional Western medical therapies, to provide safe, effective healthcare.
Practitioners of integrative medicine see patients as partners and work closely with you to ensure you're getting the treatments you need. Integrative medicine addresses many factors, including the physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that impact an individual's health status.
In addition to offering treatments that attend to immediate health problems, integrative medicine focuses on the broader concepts of health (including living a healthy lifestyle) that promote an individual's overall health and well-being presently and in the future.
What It Entails
Integrative medicine places an emphasis on the practitioner-patient relationship and is based upon a model of focusing on health and wellness, rather than a model of disease. By customizing care for each patient, integrative medicine treats more than just the symptoms.
Together, you and your practitioner address the causes of an illness, including biological, psychosocial, environmental, and behavioral aspects, in addition to prevention. The integrative medicine approach addresses your immediate health needs along with the other variables that influence your long-term health and well-being.
Practitioners of integrative medicine integrate the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in addition to conventional treatments. CAM therapies are only used if shown to be effective, safe, and appropriate for an individual's specific health status.
Evidence-based CAM treatments often used with conventional medical care include:
- Functional medicine
- Guided imagery
- Natural supplements
- Therapeutic massage
During your initial visit with an integrative medicine practitioner, your health history will be evaluated, and you'll examine the origin of your illness to better understand how psychological, physical, social, spiritual, and environmental elements might be contributing to your health concerns.
You will work closely with the practitioner to establish a personalized wellness plan based on your immediate health needs. You will also be encouraged to develop healthy behaviors and self-care skills you can use throughout your life to fulfill and sustain your long-term health objectives.
Integrative medicine doesn't replace the care you receive from your primary doctor. Instead, it complements existing treatments prescribed by your primary care and specialty providers. When you've consulted with an integrative medicine practitioner, they will send your primary provider a summary of your visit and a list of therapies recommended.
In many cases, an integrative specialist may be a primary provider, depending on their professional training and the licensing requirements of the jurisdiction.
Any recommended natural remedies and complementary therapies included in your personalized wellness plan should not interfere with any traditional medications you've been prescribed. They instead are meant to maximize your body's capacity for healing along with any other treatments you are receiving.
Integrative medicine encourages people to take responsibility for their health and well-being when working in collaboration with their healthcare professionals and on their own.
If you are interested in receiving integrated medical care, check with your insurance carrier to determine which costs will be covered. Some insurance providers do not cover the complementary and alternative treatments that are used in integrative medicine, while others cover some treatments, such as acupuncture and some mind-body therapies.
Types of Integrative Medicine Professionals
Integrative medicine specialists include professionals of many disciplines-- medical doctors, nurse practitioners, doctors of osteopathic medicine, naturopaths, chiropractors, mental health professionals, mind-body specialists, massage therapists, and practitioners of complementary treatments such as reiki and acupuncture.
The academic and accreditation requirements for these occupations vary extensively, as does the regulation of these specialties.
If you are trying to find an integrative medicine specialist, look for someone who is fully accredited in their specialty and transparent about their experiences and belief system. For instance, do they believe in the mind-body-spirit connection that underlies the base of integrative medicine?
Good integrative medicine practitioners see their patients not only as partners, but are also ready to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals responsible for your care.
Part of what makes integrative medicine so special is the sharing of information amongst healthcare professionals that are attending to the needs of each individual. Research shows that interprofessional collaboration can improve patient results.
Integrative medicine therapies are used to treat a number of health conditions and diseases, including:
- Chronic pain
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
Integrative medicine is increasing in popularity in healthcare settings throughout the United States, as more people are interested in more holistic, personalized approaches to recovery. Many hospitals have been trialing integrative medicine programs and investigating the effect integrative medicine has on patient care.
A number of reviews and clinical studies have shown favorable results for individuals as well as providers that participate in integrative medicine programs.5.
Researchers are exploring the benefits of integrative medicine for several disorders and situations, including pain management, symptom relief for cancer patients and survivors, and programs that promote healthy behaviors to sustain long-term health.
People have practiced medicine throughout the world for thousands of years. History shows us that new medical treatments have often been a blend of old traditions with advancements in societies worldwide. In that way, integrative medicine has informally been practiced by people for many years.
Some professionals more formally adopted integrative medicine in the early 1990s. In 1994, the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine was founded, with a primary focus on educating physicians in integrative medicine.
The Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health was developed in 2004 to promote policies and action to advance integrated healthcare throughout the United States. Today, integrative medicine is a globally recognized movement in medicine.