Wellness Wednesdays

Today’s focus: Alternative Medicine vs Integrative Medicine

One of our many hot topics on the news is medical coverage. What a roller coaster ride has this been! The up side of all this is that we live in a country that affords us choices (for the most part). And with the changes in medical care we’ve seen an increase in holistic or natural medicine taking a more significant stance when deciding on both long term or short-term treatment. So, when we do our search you’ll see a list of Holistic, Alternative and/or Integrative Medicine. What does that all mean? How do I choose what is best for me?

Maybe I can shed some light on that matter. Let’s start by defining them. Merriam Webster dictionary defines Alternative medicine as: any of various systems of healing or treating disease (such as chiropractic, homeopathy, or faith healing) not included in the traditional medical curricula of the U.S. and Britain, and it defines Integrative Medicine to be medicine that integrates the therapies of alternative medicine with those practiced by mainstream medical practitioners. 

Given the health care coverage crisis in our country and the increase of chronic illnesses, it’s become much more critical for most families to take matters into their own hands.

 In Psychology Today’s article Why choose Complementary and Alternative Medicine? (CAM) the author states that research shows people choose this type of treatment over traditional medical treatment for various reasons. Some of those are that some see it as more affordable treatment options; some are looking for a cure without the side effects; people are disappointed with “orthodox medicine”; and others often see CAM as a restorative process that revitalizes the natural “health promoting forces”.

On the other hand, there are people that prefer the combination of both traditional orthodox medicine and alternative medicine (Integrative Medicine) because they believe “it is only logical to incorporate health strategies into their lives from the widest array of proven approaches possible. They think an integrative approach will allow them to achieve or maintain the best health possible.” (health.usnews.com/health-conditions/heart-health/integrative-medicine).

How do I decide what would be the best treatment option for me? 

 Your treatment of choice should be in alignment with your values and beliefs. For some (if not most) the cost may be the driving force behind your choice of medical treatment. The good news is more insurance companies are offering alternative medicine as an option, and therefore making it an affordable treatment choice.



Here’s a helpful chart in deciding which approach may be best for you: 

Conventional Medicine

+ Best option for surgeries, trauma care and acute life-threatening illness

+ Effective at quickly masking symptoms to provide immediate relief

+ Widely available and covered extensively by insurance

+ Treats symptoms effectively, not the underlying cause

+ Poor record on healing chronic diseases

+ Procedures are often invasive and have undesirable side effects

+ Treats the body in parts, not as a whole

+ Medical schools are structured into organ-specific departments, with little relationship with each other

Alternative Medicine

+ Focus on proactive measures

+ Treats the cause of illness and disease, not just the symptoms

+ More cost effective

+ Methods target whole body, as an interrelated system

+ Generally safe with minimal side effects when used according to directions

+ Best option for chronic diseases

+ Requires more personal education and self-direction because it is not taught to most doctors and most patients never hear about it

+ Can take longer to see results because addressing the root cause is more involved than simply masking symptoms

Be informed and choose what aligns with you.

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