While the practice of integrative medicine has been around for centuries, the term "integrative medicine" is relatively recent. For years, allopathic doctors have incorporated other complementary and alternative modalities into their practices such as Chinese herbal medicine, yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture, to name a few. In 1994, Dr. Andrew Weil popularized the term and the practice through the establishment of programs and fellowships for students out of the University of Arizona.
Integrative Medicine is a comprehensive practice that brings traditional western medicine MDs together with the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Practitioners acquire expertise in other modalities based on their interests, ranging from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to ayurveda, chiropractic, or even yoga.
Doctors employ Complementary and Alternative (CAM) techniques in conjunction with traditional western medicine to treat patients. This is a patient centered approach that believes in the body's ability to heal itself. Using medicinal herbs, nutriceuticals and other CAM disciplines this practice incorporates the best of both worlds, modern medical science along with herbs, body mind spirit, etc.
Practitioners holding an MD or DO can apply for a fellowship in integrative medicine through the University of Arizona or other elective rotations in holistic medicine. These courses are taught either on-site or online. See University of Arizona for more details.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
The American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) is the boarding agency and is training, credentialing, and building legitimacy for the field.
The main association for Integrative Medicine is the American Holistic Medicine Association (AHMA). It works in conjunction with the American Board Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABHIM).
Integrative Medicine is usually integrated with other modalities of treatment. Pricing may vary according to the main modality offered. Treatment by an Integrative Medicine practitioner may be covered by insurance. Inquire with your insurance provider to understand your scope of coverage.
To learn more about integrative medicine, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the AHMA.