Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person

How Integrative Medicine Boosts Natural Healing

There was a time when doctors focused only on the physical. They treated things that they could see, quantify and measure, while ignoring everything else. The state of modern health care is a clear indication that a single-minded approach to medicine does not work.

In spite of near-miraculous advances in medicine over the decades as well as a deeper understanding of the mechanics of our bodies, we are seeing more cases of chronic diseases and lifestyle-related problems than ever before. Rushed lives, bad diet, stress and environmental factors mean that even with all those advances, we’re still not as healthy as we should be.

This is part of the reason why even traditional medical practitioners are turning to integrative medicine more frequently.

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is a holistic approach to health that incorporates traditional medicine and its focus on the mechanics of the body, but also includes mental health, spiritual wellness and even environment.

It is not strictly limited to natural cures, natural healing, complementary medicine or any other element of the medical spectrum, but aims to combine them all in a health care approach that is best for the patient.

Because integrative medicine encompasses so many different areas of medicine, it can also be a collaborative approach, with western doctors working with alternative health practitioners, acupuncture specialists and many other specialists to create and deliver a whole-body approach to health and wellness.

How Prevalent Is Integrative Medicine?

There was a time when natural cures were written off as irrelevant by the world of conventional medicine. But as their benefits are proved time and again in study after study, more and more medical professionals are incorporating nontraditional methods of natural healing into their health plans for their patients.

Patients with stress-related heart conditions, for instance, are being treated by their cardiologists but are also referred to yoga practitioners so they can learn stress management techniques that support their medical treatment. Patients with cancer might be referred to an acupuncturist to assist with pain, while simultaneously using traditional cancer treatments, dietary changes and counseling to manage other elements of their condition.

The fact is that integrative medicine is pervasive and becoming more so, because it has proven health benefits.

Whole Life Medical Solutions

Perhaps the best way to look at integrative medicine as a method of natural healing is to see it as a “whole life” approach to health, rather than limiting treatment to the body.

By incorporating acupuncture, biofield therapies, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, mindfulness and yoga with more traditional medical treatments, your medical team can address all elements of your overall health at the same time, and that means better, longer-lasting health results.

Ideally, your traditional medical team should be able to help you find the right combination of conventional, alternative and natural cures to treat every aspect of your body, not just the causes and symptoms of your main condition. If not, don’t be afraid to seek out an integrative medical practice that can supplement your treatments. It is your body and your life, and if you feel that you should be treating all aspects of it, there are solutions out there.



How Acupuncture for Stress Helps Patients Cope

Acupuncture has been used to treat depression and anxiety for years, so it makes sense that it would also work to help patients suffering from stress.

However, because “stress” is a much broader term than the either depression or anxiety and it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint triggers or causes, acupuncture for stress has not always been considered an effective method of reducing or relieving stress.

Recent studies and research show that not considering acupuncture as an effective treatment for stress might have been a mistake. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to support the use of acupuncture to help with stress – especially in the case of those who are also suffering from anxiety or other mood conditions that might interact or trigger episodes of stress.

The Science Behind It

In a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic stress. The study used electro-acupuncture (EA), a form of acupuncture where small electrical currents are sent through the needle into the body to help stimulate contact points. They found that EA is highly effective in reducing the release of stress hormones from the brain and into the nervous system.

The study—which was done in rats and not humans—found that certain acupuncture points directly affect the release of peptides and proteins, which in turn influence the production of hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone). This could be significant because people with stress often have elevated levels of cortisol that can cause side effects like insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and more. By using acupuncture to affect the production of cortisol, practitioners can help patients lower their stress levels.

Similar results where obtained in other studies, such as the one published in the CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics journal. Here, researchers looked at the effects of acupuncture to treat anxiety and found it just as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most common forms of treatment used to deal with anxiety and stress.

Other Benefits of Acupuncture on Stress Levels

Acupuncture can help not only to lower levels of stress, but it can also help patients deal with the physical effect of stress on the body. For example, a study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine looked at the effects of stress on immune system impairment and whether acupuncture could help fight those effects.

Researchers found that women who used acupuncture for stress experienced fewer physical effects on the body. When a blood test was performed after acupuncture treatment, researchers also found that these women had stronger immune systems, while those in the control group (who didn’t use acupuncture) had a diminished or impaired immune system. The results remained the same for a month after each session of acupuncture.

One last thing to consider: acupuncture has been studied for a number of conditions and symptoms that might be connected to stress. For example, research has shown that one of the effects of acupuncture treatment is to stabilize the production and release of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that regulate mood chemistry and can help ease the physical and mental effects of anxiety and stress.

Other studies have shown that acupuncture has a direct impact on the areas of the brain that control pain and stress. Because of this, acupuncture can be used to promote relaxation and to help ease feelings of worry or anxiety. When done regularly, this could help patients dealing with chronic stress.