What is Integrative Medicine?

Definition of Integrative medicine


According to the RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners), the term “Integrative Medicine” is defined as:


 “the blending of conventional and natural/complementary medicines and/or therapies along with lifestyle interventions and a holistic approach – taking into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of the person – with the aim of using the most appropriate, safe and evidence-based modality(ies) available”



Within modern medicine, Integrative Medicine can be described as a movement which emphasizes wellness and healing of the entire person (bio-psycho-socio-spiritual dimensions) as primary goals, drawing on both conventional and CAM approaches in the context of a supportive and effective physician-patient relationship. From the context of Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners, there is a recognition of the primacy of Modern Evidence Based Medicine in saving and preserving life, following which more comprehensive healing and quality of life might be achieved through further involvement of both conventional as well as unconventional means. The wishes of the patient are considered an integral part of the healing process.



The NCCAM (National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) describes Complementary and Alternative Medicine as:


“a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine”.



It further describes these therapies as being comprised of five different categories:



Alternative Medical Systems– Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice such as homeopathic and naturopathic medicinetraditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

Mind-Body Interventions – These interventions include patient support groups, meditation, prayer, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

Biologically Based Therapies– These therapies include the use of herbs, foods, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements.

Manipulative and Body-Based Methods– These methods include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

Energy Therapies– Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields such as reiki or biofield therapies.



The drive for opening up medicine to dialogue with Complementary and Alternative Medicine stems in part from the fact that an increasing percentage of the population is consulting complementary medicine practitioners. Some medical professionals feel a need to learn more about complementary medicine so they can better advise their patients, while both they and their patients are becoming increasingly unsatisfied with what they perceive as a focus on using pharmaceuticals to treat or suppress a specific disease rather than on helping a patient to become healthy. They take the view that it’s important to go beyond the specific complaint and draw upon a combination of conventional and alternative approaches to help create a state of health that is more than the absence of disease or symptoms.




In the 1990s physicians in the United States became increasingly interested in integrating alternative approaches into their medical practice, as shown by a 1995 survey in which 80% of family practice physicians expressed an interest in receiving training in acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and massage therapy. In the mid-1990s hospitals in the United States began opening integrative medicine clinics, which numbered 27 by 2001.The term “integrative medicine” was increasingly popularized by, among others, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, and Prince Charles. The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine was founded in 1999 and by 2013 included 56 members, such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Mayo Clinic. The goal of the Consortium is to advance the practice of integrative medicine by bringing together medical colleges that include integrative medicine in their medical education. The American Board of Physician Specialties, which awards board certification to medical doctors in the U.S., announced in June 2013 that in 2014 it will begin accrediting doctors in integrative medicine.




At Synergy Health and Wellbeing Centre for Integrative Medicine we hold the following position:

  • Modern, evidence based medicine should always take precedence over Complementary and alternative therapies for the saving and preservation of life.
  • Complementary and alternative therapies may be of assistance in improving health and the quality of life in many people, particularly those who have not had success with conventional medical approaches.
  • Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners should practice according to the highest ethical and professional standards.
  • A co-operative approach and open dialogue between health care providers in which self-care is emphasised and the wishes of the patient are respected will always be in the best long term interest of the public.



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