Integrative medicine

Integrative medicine

Integrative medicine or integrative health is the combination of the practices and methods of alternative medicine with conventional medicine.[1][2][3] The term is relatively recent, and is mainly promoted by proponents of alternative therapies in the west. Some universities and hospitals have departments of integrative medicine.



Integrative medicine has arisen out of an historical appreciation of the limitations of the dominant medical paradigm. While pharamceutical and technological approaches to medicine rely on isolated testing scenarios, which often fail to translate successfully to bring about the healing of real people suffering from complex and multi-faceted conditions, integrative medicine pays attention to forms of medicine that have arisen in other cultural contexts, often appealing to the intuitive intelligence of the patient and practitioner, rather than the alleged expertise of a laboratory researcher.[4]


Because the nature of integrative medicine is to attempt to merge evidence based medicine with alternative medicine techniques, as well as partially focusing treatment on the "spiritual", it is not without controversy. Accordingly, it falls into the same category of criticisms as much of alternative medicine does.[5][6]

Dr. Arnold Relman, editor in chief emeritus of The New England Journal of Medicine wrote:

"There are not two kinds of medicine, one conventional and the other unconventional, that can be practiced jointly in a new kind of "integrative medicine." Nor, as Andrew Weil and his friends also would have us believe, are there two kinds of thinking, or two ways to find out which treatments work and which do not. In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. Can there be any reasonable "alternative"?"[7]

Speaking of government funding studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream, Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine wrote that it "is used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate." Dr. Marcia Angell, executive editor of The New England Journal of Medicine says, "It's a new name for snake oil."[6]

Organisations advocating integrative medicine in the UK have been criticised for promoting unproven complementary treatments.[1]

See also


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