What is integrative health and medicine (IHM)?
“Conventional” (also known as “allopathic” or “Western”) medicine is often thought of as "mainstream" medicine. Health practitioners outside of mainstream medicine are often referred to as natural, holistic, or complementary, alternative, integrative. These practitioners come from a variety of disciplines such as acupuncture and Oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine direct-entry midwifery, homeopathy, yoga therapy, and ayurvedic medicine.
I think of integrative health and medicine (IHM) as a philosophy of practice provided by both mainstream and non-mainstream providers which includes looking at the person receiving care as a whole person, considering their mind, body, mind, spirit, and emotions, using the least invasive appropriate treatment, and working in collaboration with the patient and other practitioners.
Considering your integrative options
People usually consider integrative because they are seeking optimal health and wellness or because they have exhausted their conventional medicine options and are willing to look at other possibilities for feeling better. Practitioners of integrative/whole person care emphasize natural approaches and typically spend more time with the patient to understand the root causes of the presenting symptoms.
If you decide to explore integrative health care options, you may choose an individual practitioner or you may choose an integrative health care facility, and let them recommend practitioners for you.
Ask your friends for referrals, and what their experiences have been with individual practitioners and/or healing centers. You might begin by choosing the kinds of approaches that sound the best to you, write down any questions you have (i.e. how much an initial visit is, if they take your insurance, what you can expect in the initial visit), and then call and ask your questions. You may also want to ask them for references from other clients. If you have a good feeling about the practitioner (or healing center), and like the way you’ve been treated so far, call and schedule an appointment. Expect to be an active participant in your care, and begin preparing for your visit.
The resources section below provides information about choosing a practice and/or practitioner that's right for you and finding out if the practitioner you are interested in is appropriately credentialed.
General information about integrative health
The Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) has put together a basic "at-a-glance" table [link here] describing the essentials of each of the five licensed integrative health and medicine professions (acupuncture and Oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, and direct-entry midwifery). Information for this table comes from the Clinicians' and Educators' Desk Reference on the licensed Complementary & Alternative Healthcare Professions. Links to national organizations for each of the licensed integrative health and medicine disciplines can also be found on ACCAHC web site (www.accahc.org).
Data presented in easy to understand format! I am very excited to post this resource. “Integrative Health and Medicine: Today’s Answer to Affordable Healthcare” Published by the Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium March 2015. www.ihpc.org/wp-content/uploads/IHPC-CE-Booklet-March2015.pdf
Here are some links to general information about integrative health:
The Integrator Blog...Everything happening in the business and policy of integrative health and medicine world!
Everything about the business and policy of integrative health and medicine!
Mindbody Exchange has a weekly e-newsletter and descriptions of different disciplines.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducts and supports research and provides information about complementary health products and practices.
Human Kind Special Project: The Search for Well-Being is a special report about integrative medicine as a new model of healthcare.
Here are some websites that give good suggestions for choosing a practice and/or practitioner that's right for you.
Here are some webistes that are good resources for finding out about licensure and/or certification requirements for integrative practitioners:
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine - http://www.nccaom.org/consumers and http://www.nccaom.org/find-an-acupuncture-practitioner-directory
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine publishes contact information of practitioners who are nationally certified in Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology,and Asian Bodywork Therapy.
Chiropractic - http://www.nbce.org/links/state-boards.html and http://www.nbce.org/links/
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners provides links to State (Licensing) Boards.
Massage Therapy - http://www.amtamassage.org/findamassage/credential.html
The American Massage Therapy Association gives a thorough explanation of certification, licensure, accreditation with links.
Naturopathic Medicine - http://www.aanmc.org/careers/naturopathic-doctor-licensure.php and https://www.nabne.org/home/state-and-provincial-contacts/
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges explains what to look for on their website and provides relevant links.
Check these websites to see if your practitioner went to a school accredited by a department of education recognized accrediting agency:
How do I prepare for an appointment?
These tips apply to preparation for any kind of health care visit.
1. Think about what you want out of the visit. Make a list of what you are concerned about – and prioritize it so you get to your top priority items first.
2. Make a list of any medications and supplements you are taking.
3. Keep good notes about what’s going on – be specific about what you’re feeling (physically and emotionally), when you feel it, what you think might be affecting you, anything you think might be relevant.
4. Be prepared to tell the truth (even if it’s something you would rather weren’t true – the more information your practitioner has, the better!). Are you engaging in unsafe behaviors? Eating foods that you know aren’t good for you? Not taking your medications as prescribed?
What do I ask during the appointment?
1. Ask what will happen during the visit, and let your practitioner know that you’ve come with some questions.
2. Take notes, or bring a voice recorder and ask if it’s ok if you record the conversation.
3. Make sure you understand everything your practitioner is saying – if something is unclear, stop them right there and ask for clarification.
4. If you’re not comfortable during the session, let your practitioner know, and together you can both figure out what you need to be more comfortable.
More About HCU
Healing Centers United (HCU) is here to help you find holistic, integrative, whole person care provided by healthcare practitioners working together. Healthcare practitioners can work together under the same roof, in physical 'healing centers' (like offices, clinics, hospitals) or they can work together via close collaboration and referrals. Integration is not as much a place as it is a philosophy, a way of practicing care. Healing Centers United is a resource about healing centers, whether physical or virtual, where practitioners collaborate with others in the care of their patients.
HCU is supported entirely by contributions and staffed by volunteers, and we do not have the resources to respond to individual inquiries. The best way to be in contact with us and this community is to post on our Facebook page. Financial support is tax deductible and always welcome, in any amount! If you are able to make a contribution, please let us know on the Facebook page or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
This web space is being donated by Loving Living Life. Many thanks to Barbara Findlay Reece RN, BSN and her associates for sharing expertise and experiences.