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What is Integrative Medicine?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

The health care crisis in the US continues to challenge our most visionary leaders to come up with effective solutions. In his inaugural speech as well as on other occasions, President Obama made mention of his view of the best solution—prevention. It costs far less to prevent a heart attack with nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle interventions, than it does to treat a patient for a heart attack in the emergency room. One study shows that focusing on ‘prevention’ will save more than $9,000 per patient per year in health care costs.
The question then becomes, how do we create a culture of wellness and vitality in our communities? For five years, Sacred Tree’s answer has been ‘Integrative Medicine.’ But what exactly is integrative medicine? What exactly are we integrating?
These are fantastic questions, and the answers are still being discovered. The short answer is, we are integrating the skills, philosophy, tools, and modes of practice of many distinct disciplines of medicine, blending them into one seamless whole for the benefit of our clients and community.
Some synonyms for the word ‘integrative’ might be synergistic, holistic, collaborative, cooperative, community. One of my recent favorites is ‘expressive,’ as in Expressive Medicine, vis-à-vis ‘suppressive medicine,’ meaning that we honor the myriad human expressions of all nature. Expressive medicine might mean allowing a patient to be feverish, as long as the fever is below a certain temperature range, instead of recommending herbs or drugs that suppress the fever. This philosophy respects the body’s infinite wisdom, recognizing that the fever is the body’s metabolic response to a pathogenic invasion, and represents an evolutionary adaptation over millions of years. It has a purpose, a goal, and an innate wisdom that would be arrogant or hubristic to believe we know enough about to completely suppress.
The same is true of the range of human emotions and internal experience. Suppressive medical culture seeks to medicalize experiences that may have deeply adaptive reasons for existing. Suppressive medicine may attempt to suppress an emotion such as sadness due to loss of a loved one, through the use of drugs, herbs, or any other method. Yet the expression of that emotion may allow a more full and dynamic experience of life by catalyzing internal processes and recognition of the loss on a deep level. To suppress that ‘negative’ emotion would be to diminish the life and shared experience of the loved one who passed on. The suppression of emotion, sadness or any other, may and likely does have negative effects on health. Therefore, expressing and addressing these emotions directly, in the light of day, will likely benefit health, wellness, and vitality, and prevent disease.
Through this expressive lens, Integrative medicine represents the ability to weave together and integrate a diverse array of human experiences and processes, from biological to emotional, financial, physical, nutritional, and even cultural.
We believe that this integration of diverse aspects of life in a movement characterized by a strong focus on wholeness, vitality, and honor of our body’s innate and natural healing power, vis medicatrix naturae, represents the future of medicine.
We invite anyone interested in a deeper and more personal discussion of what Integrative medicine means and how it serves our clients, families, and community, to attend our roundtable discussion with area medical practitioners.
This roundtable disussion will be held Tuesday March 10, 2009, at 6 PM in the conference room at Blue Sky Breckenridge, 42 Snowflake Drive. It is free for all to attend, and light refreshments will be served.
For more information, call (970) 453-8558, or email Luke@SacredTree.com.