Choosing Integrative Healthcare

Integrative healthcare utilizes the best therapeutic options from conventional Western medicine, as well as holistic practices, also known as complementary therapies and healing practices.  Examples of holistic practices include herbal medicineacupuncturemassage, biofeedback, yogameditation, and stress reduction techniques. It offers a broad approach to healing that is patient-centered and focuses on the whole person-mind, body, and spirit.

While integrative healthcare offers great benefits, you do need to take an active role in educating yourself about the full spectrum of conventional and holistic practices. In this section, we make some general recommendations for choosing an integrated approach to your healthcare. 

Recommendations for an Integrated Approach

Almost anyone can benefit from an integrated approach that uses both conventional healthcare and holistic practices, but you need to be informed.

Holistic practices may provide options that optimize the healing capacities of your body, minimize unpleasant side effects, help prevent further complications, or otherwise help you cope with illness, particularly chronic illness.

Adopt a holistic perspective

While you may be dealing with a specific health challenge, don't forget about your whole body, mind, and spirit; as well as your values and passions in life. Health challenges can impact our understanding of who we are and guide us to prioritize decisions in our lives.

Many holistic practices can help your overall health and wellbeing, in addition to helping you deal with your specific health issue.

For example, yoga can provide specific, measurable benefits, such as increasing strength and flexibility and improving sleep habits. It can also provide more general benefits, such as an internal sense of mastery and a more accepting, less reactive approach to life. Practicing yoga can lead to reflection and understanding of what guides our choices in life.

Because many holistic practices arise from systems with different views of health, they can offer helpful new perspectives on health and even life. In addition, many healing practices explicitly consider the emotional and spiritual aspects of health, which often helps bring healing in the form of emotional peace or a renewed sense of meaning and purpose.