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Integrative Medicine: What is It?

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Integrative Medicine: What is It?

Suppose you’re familiar with herbal remedies, oils, yoga, meditation, and other complementary medicines and healthcare interventions. In that case, you’re probably aware that conventional medical care doesn’t always utilize the full spectrum of treatments and medications available for a specific condition.

While these non-medicinal approaches have historically been referred to as “alternative medicine,” these complementary approaches can be very helpful in supporting treatment for a wide range of health concerns. Although these medicinal approaches and theories haven’t always been available through your regular doctor or provider, today’s healthcare organizations are more committed than ever to using these practices as part of a more holistic and successful approach to patient care.

This approach is known as integrative medicine.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Instead of forcing patients to choose between either conventional medicine or complementary practices, integrative medicine combines these two approaches to provide patients with the best healthcare services and care possible.

In many cases, doctors will use integrative medicines and treatments to support conventional medicine or provide care and support where traditional medicines aren’t an option for that patient. 

“Doctors still rely on evidence-based interventions when choosing which complementary approaches to integrate into their care. But as research backing up these integrative methods grows, doctors have more options when building treatment plans that offer the best care and support for their patients.” Says Dr. Mark Moon of Signature+ Concierge Care.

Although any patient may benefit from integrated medicine to complement traditional medicinal approaches, individuals with chronic or complex health conditions may be particularly well-positioned to benefit from this hybridized approach to healthcare and wellness.


Types of Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine can use several different types of complementary medicines and therapies in combination with traditional medicine and treatment. These integrative approaches may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Natural supplements and dietary changes. This can include herbal supplements, vitamins, and probiotics. It may also include specialized diets, such as those built around anti-inflammatory foods.

Mind-body therapies. These therapies can range from meditation to yoga and support mental health and the mind-body relationship, such as how a patient experiences and manages pain.

Bodywork. Acupuncture, massage, and other forms of bodywork may offer evidence-based interventions for various health issues, from musculoskeletal pain to mental health issues.

Animal-assisted therapy. Using animals within an integrated care framework can help patients cope with pain, loneliness, and other mental health complications resulting from their physical ailments.

Patient Benefits of Integrative Medicine

While individual experiences and benefits may vary, patients interested in an integrated approach to care may enjoy the following:

Evidence-based support for complex health conditions. Integrative medicine can open up your access to treatments and interventions that improve your physical comfort and your ability to manage and overcome certain health conditions. The oversight of a healthcare provider can help ensure that integrative approaches are properly incorporated into your existing care.

Greater choice in building a treatment plan. Complex health conditions may create certain restrictions about what treatments and interventions are available to a patient—mainly if more than one health concern is present. Advanced integrative medicine can create more opportunities to incorporate multiple interventions without raising the risk of new complications.

Relief for primary symptoms. Many integrated medicine treatments aim to address symptoms associated with several health conditions, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headaches, inflammation, and pain.

What to Consider Before Choosing Integrative Medicine

Conflicting guidance for medical interventions. While your primary healthcare provider can help you navigate potential conflicts in care recommendations, you may be forced to choose between conventional and complementary treatments with limited research and expert guidance to inform your decision.

The complexity of your existing treatment plan. Integrative medicine brings in new treatments and potential new providers, depending on the interventions you need. For individuals whose care plan is already complex and overwhelming, the mental health toll of further complications may not be worth the potential benefits.

The risk of potential complications. While uncommon for individuals receiving integrated care through a healthcare provider, there is always a risk that integrative treatments will bring unwanted and unexpected side effects.

● No guarantee of benefits. Even if an integrated approach doesn’t introduce new complications or health concerns, it’s also possible that a more complex treatment plan informed by complementary techniques may fail to deliver a different outcome than conventional treatments alone.

How to Find Providers for Integrative Medicine Near Me

As integrative medicine becomes a more broadly available sub-service of traditional medical care, you can find your concierge care doctor here at Flagler Health+ with Dr. Moon at Signature+.

Dr. Moon is board-certified in Internal Medicine, fellowship-trained in Integrative Medicine, and received a Master of Science in Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. Dr. Moon trained at both Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic and practiced at Mayo Clinic for 13 years, where he ranked among the top 5 physicians in patient satisfaction.

Before moving his practice to Flagler Health+, Dr. Moon served in the consultative and diagnostic medicine department where he became known by his peers as a master diagnostician. Following his tenure in Consultative and Diagnostic Medicine, Dr. Moon became the Chair of Executive and International Medicine at Mayo Clinic, where he spent nearly a decade. Dr. Moon understands the value of longer visits with each of his patients. Spending more time with patients has enhanced accurate diagnoses and allows for closer doctor-patient relationships, which improves all aspects of care.

Choosing a physician with fellowship training from an accredited program is essential. Dr. Moon completed a two-year fellowship at the University of Arizona, which is widely considered the premier Integrative Medicine program in the U.S.