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Integrative Medicine

Combining treatments to heal the whole person

It’s a growing trend in healthcare. Yet some of the treatments have been in practice for thousands of years. According to the University of Chicago, the field of Integrative Medicine is becoming a growing movement, combining the most effective tested treatments in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In fact, 38.3 percent of US adults used some form of CAM in a 2007 study.
Many of us suffer from symptoms that don’t seem to be related but cause us concern and pain. Today, integrative medicine can be the answer to treating us with a combination of Eastern and Western medicine. Throughout the nation, integrative clinics and hospitals are now offering patients treatments and lifestyle recommendations that can benefit the patient and create changes in the whole person that can alleviate pain, depression and other conditions with meditation, biofeedback and hypnosis.
Fortunately, Chicago is on the forefront of these integrative centers. The Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits package has included acupuncture in six states and has included chiropractic services in nearly all states. Evidence-based practices are now considered an important element of healing to integrate both the traditional alternative medicine such as ayurveda, naturopathy, Oriental, homeopathy and acupuncture with healing covering chiropractic, tai chi, body movement, massage and yoga.
The importance of diet is also included in most CAM programs, including attention to herbal medicine and nutritional balance. The importance of diet with CAM cannot be overstated. In our modern age we have replaced a simple diet with one that  is full of sugar, salt and fat, and the nutritional excesses of our food choices have lead to nutritional imbalances. CAM can analyze excesses and deficiencies in our diets and help patients adjust their diets and supplement deficiencies with dietary supplements and herbs. The effects of food allergies can be an area where naturopathic medicine—offered by many integrative centers—can be very helpful too.
Some CAM approaches include meditation and hypnosis as well as behavioral stress management and relaxation response. Many wellness centers close the gap between conventional and integrative medicine with a holistic approach. Northwestern Integrative Medicine offers a full range of complementary and integrative therapies. These include managing stress through energy medicine, dietitians to help establish a nutritional plan, fitness, tobacco cessation, corporate wellness programs and chronic pain treatment, along with primary care, behavioral medicine, massage therapy and chronic pain therapy.
The Balancing Center unites integrated chiropractic treatments for patients, using advanced, non-invasive therapies and self-care practices that can alleviate pain and show patients different ways to carry their weight and how to move in ways other than those that trigger chronic pain. They investigate the underlying cause of the patient’s problem before beginning the relief process, which unites gentle, upper cervical chiropractic with advanced, non-invasive therapies. Pain relief can happen in even one treatment.

In a time when doctors of traditional medicine are expected to see and treat many patients every hour, the integrative approach stresses underlying problems. Practitioners take time to investigate many aspects of the whole person and treat patients with many therapies—such as vitamins, minerals, herbal medicine, dietary supplements and exercise—for sleep and psychological problems that impact patients.
The University of Chicago sponsors a course on Complementary and Alternative Medicine that combines conventional and alternative medicine. An affiliate with the hospital, NorthShore University, offers patients integrative medical services on the North Shore.

Treatments such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and psychotherapy can be enormously helpful when you are suffering from undiagnosed pain; finding a place where you can be treated as a whole person is a relief for many patients with vague symptoms. In an attempt to alleviate symptoms, integrative treatments investigate underlying problems often revealed in blood tests. These include cholesterol, thyroid, vitamin and mineral levels, glucose levels, kidney and liver tests to rule out many conditions before beginning CAM treatments.

Published: June 15, 2013
Issue: Summer 2013 Issue