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What is integrative medicine?

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Quick Answer

Integrative medicine is defined as a medical approach that emphasizes a combination of conventional and alternative techniques to treat biological, psychological, social and spiritual health and illness, according to the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. This approach focuses on the whole person and the patient's relationship with his doctor.

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Full Answer

Integrative medicine strives to optimize health; recognize the connections between mind, body, spirit and community; identify risks and minimize them; use whole-person approaches; and promote prevention by preparing for possible health issues, states Duke Integrative Medicine. Doctors make plans for patients' life spans, not just interventions for problems as they arise. Health care practitioners practicing integrative medicine also aim to support their patients' health goals.

Integrative health care programs in cancer treatment centers may provide acupuncture and meditation for symptom management for patients receiving conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy, notes the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The name CAM, or complementary and alternative medicine, is used to describe integrative medicine services that conventional medicine does not commonly use, states the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Although various definitions for integrative medicine exist, this type of non-mainstream health care is a growing trend among providers and health care systems, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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