Integrative medicine (IM) is a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.
The Defining Principles of Integrative Medicine are:
Patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.
Appropriate use of both conventional and alternative methods facilitates the body’s innate healing response.
Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.
Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically.
Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
Practitioners of integrative medicine should exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.
Much of conventional medical research focuses on subsystems of the body. Integrative medical research is interested in whole systems and uses complexity science and whole systems approaches to study complex packages of care.
Most research efforts nationwide apply reductionism to CAM research, an approach that may not answer broader questions regarding integrative models of care or the nature of healing. Researching a single intervention or an aspect of an intervention taken out of context may not provide an adequate test of the value of the intervention. Modalities that do not fit neatly into the current research paradigm are at risk for being marginalized without appropriate methods for studying them.