A holistic, integrative approach to internal medicine brings about a new dawn for the field of internal medicine where a patient’s overall health, including their emotional and psychological wellbeing, are taken into account as part of their diagnosis. For an internist to bring about the greatest good to a patient, whether to treat a symptom or prevent future issues from occurring, requires a deeper relationship between the doctor and patient. While medicine and medication can sometimes be part of the solution, they may not necessarily be, and are often not the entire solution. The emerging field of integrative medicine takes this into account and places greater importance on the relationship between physician and patient so that comprehensive, holistic solutions can be applied when appropriate.
The Difference Between Health and Medicine
Integrative healthcare encompasses a number of diagnostic fields that contribute to the overall wellbeing of a patient. Integrative medicine is but a part of healthcare that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. The importance of regular checkups with an integrative internist cannot be overstated. The regular inclusion of an internists diagnosis as part of a comprehensive healthcare plan provides not only the patient with a greater chance of leading a healthy lifestyle but of providing the doctor with a wider picture of the patient’s lifestyle and tendencies that might contribute to future health risks. Integrative medicine, as an extension of integrative healthcare, is able to utilize the bond formed between doctor and patient to provide comprehensive solutions that are minimal, holistic when appropriate, and sometimes may just be a change in lifestyle or activities.
A Holistic Approach to Internal Medicine
Holistic medicine takes into account the entire picture of a patient’s healthcare. Not just the physical but the patient’s mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health as well. As a patient is a whole person, they contain the systems that make up that person where the systems are always interconnected and interacting with each other. Holistic medicine is the approach of observing the whole system and applying what is necessary by the most non-invasive and natural means possible. This does not exclude surgery and medication when those are the appropriate and necessary steps, and no other safe alternative exists. It merely means that a myriad of options may exist and a holistic, integrative internist will want to look at all them before deciding on what might be best for their patient.
Conventional medicine has its place but may not always provide the full benefits a patient desires. Often included in addition to traditional medical techniques are Reiki, homeopathy, acupuncture, medical herbalism, and many others. These complementary techniques may enhance the comfort and healing times of more traditional medical practices.
Traditional medicine has its place. At times, it can indeed fulfill a need where more natural solutions wouldn’t be efficient or suitable. Even in these cases, holistic medicine can be used as a tool for recovery, increased comfort, and spiritual wellbeing.
The Complete Package
An integrative approach to internal medicine is an approach that looks at more than just the treatment. It takes into account the patient’s best interest including their lifestyles choices and thus their health as a whole. A holistic approach isn’t about abstaining from traditional medical techniques. It’s about using the appropriate techniques for each unique situation. Figuring out what methods would be the least harmful and still provide the necessary and most desirable patient outcome.
Internal Medicine has come a long way from a mere diagnosis and prescription. Today the compassionate internist should take into account the entire wellbeing of their patient.