Integrative medicine: uses, benefits and risks

Integrative medicine continues to attract the attention of those struggling with chronic diseases. What does it consist of? We tell you about its benefits.

Last update: January 10, 2022

At present, integrative medicine is in high demand due to its benefits. In particular, it brings together the treatments of conventional medicine together with those offered by natural medicine, in order to provide a more comprehensive approach to chronic diseases. Their role in increasing the quality of life and favorable prognoses is even recognized.

In other words, it is a therapeutic modality that does not ignore the beneficial effects of many natural treatments, without neglecting the relevant role played by Western medicine. In other words, both complement each other and promote the success of the applied approaches. Do you want to know more about it?

Uses and benefits of integrative medicine

Integrative medicine is considered a wellness approach due to its exciting effects. Specific, covers multiple factors that affect the health of patients, as their physiological, psychological, nutritional and even social state.

Therefore, it is about implementing natural and minimally invasive alternatives, such as spiritual, emotional, environmental and nutritional therapies, but without diminishing the importance of medical treatment. Let’s see in detail its main uses and benefits.

Chronic diseases

Without a doubt, the people who benefit most from integrative medicine practices are those who suffer from chronic diseases. As stated in a publication in Frontiers of Medicine, It is an appropriate modality for human health, since regards the body as a holistic entity.

Consequently, it involves a global analysis of the causes of diseases, which allows the choice of more effective therapies. That said, it can be applied in the following boxes:

  • Asthma.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Diabetes.
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle pains.
  • Infertility
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Joint pain
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Sciatica.

It is also used in mental disorders, such as the following:

  • Addiction.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The therapies included in integrative medicine come from ancestral knowledge and practices that are traditionally extended in different communities.

Quality of life

Of course, one of the main purposes of integrative medicine is to promote the quality of life of patients, beyond causing improvements on a physical level. In relation to this, a study released through Cancer Management and Research concluded that this modality of medicine can improve health-related quality of life in cancer patients.

This is explained, to a great extent, from its fundamental bases:

  • Treat the patient as a whole being.
  • Focus on addressing the root causes, beyond the symptoms.
  • Do not neglect the psychological and nutritional aspect.
  • Take a personalized approach.
  • Strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Consider the environment in which the patient lives.

Prevention of diseases and complications

Beyond being applied in diagnosed diseases, integrative medicine has gained importance as an ally for prevention. An investigation in American Journal of Preventive Medicine highlights the potential of comprehensive care to increase the chances of success in the pre-pathology stages.

According to the publication, at the primary prevention level, this modality contributes to health promotion through dietary advice, lifestyle changes, stress reduction techniques and the use of natural products.

For secondary prevention, approaches such as stress management and lifestyle changes are relevant. Finally, in relation to tertiary prevention, the simultaneous use of complementary and conventional therapies prevents complications, at the same time that it has a positive impact on the management of symptoms.

Types of therapies in integrative medicine

To talk about integrative medicine, you have to start with a consultation with a doctor or specialist. The professional will, in the first instance, be responsible for determining the best approach to the disease, based on conventional options.

Once this is done, you can evaluate complementary therapies that are suitable for alleviating symptoms, reducing complications, or side effects. Some of the most prominent are the following:

  • Diet or nutritional therapy.
  • Herbal supplements.
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Meditation.
  • Reiki (healing energy).
  • Yoga and Tai Chi.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Therapeutic massages.
  • Aromatherapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy.
  • Reflexology.
It will always be recommended that alternative therapies are prescribed by professionals and executed by experienced people.

Possible risks

In the first instance, it is essential to be clear that the therapies that are proposed with integrative medicine do not replace medical treatments. Instead, they are a complement. However, Although they tend to be of natural origin, they are not always the most suitable.

Therefore, before choosing one option or another, it is necessary to inquire about its contraindications or possible side effects. Some practices are not suitable for certain diseases, as they increase the risk of complications or drug interactions.

To clear up any doubts, it is good to consult the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Too it is ideal to comment to the doctor about the intention to use complementary methods. It is convenient to have supervision, not only for safety, but to ensure success.

What to remember about integrative medicine?

That the methods proposed by integrative medicine are a success is no coincidence. There is growing evidence of the benefits of comprehensive therapies in addressing various chronic conditions. However, this does not diminish the need to maintain a conventional treatment.

So that, first it is necessary to receive medical advice, especially if it is serious diseases, with a tendency to complicate over time. Once your approach is defined, it is possible to consider other options to complement it.

It might interest you …