Chronic Illnes and Integrative Medicine: Is It for Me?

There is nothing more disheartening than visiting your doctor, getting a prescription that will supposedly help, yet finding little to no improvement in your condition after taking it.  When there is no improvement, many are tempted to just give up.  Managing chronic health issues can be a difficult and discouraging task.

But there are things we can try when traditional medicine seems to be running out of ideas.  It’s called Integrative Medicine, or Complementary and Alternative Medicine, often referred to as CAM.  You’ve probably heard of it many times, but perhaps never really gave it much consideration.  However, if you’re struggling with your health, what have you got to lose?

Studies are showing that more and more people are choosing an integrative approach to their own health and wellness, and with improved results.

But what exactly does Integrative Medicine or CAM mean?

Simply put, these are terms that describe alternatives therapies which are closer to nature, cheaper, and less expensive than conventional therapies, though there are some exceptions.  These can include:  acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, ayurveda (a combination of massage and breathing exercises), hypnosis, meditation, yoga, homeopathic remedies (plant or herb based remedies that help the body naturally fight diseases and conditions), and nutritional screenings that pinpoint food sensitivities that may be making you sick, or exacerbating your condition.   It is often thought of as a more complete approach to health care since it incorporates therapies for the body, mind and spirit—treating the whole person rather than isolating one particular area.

The word integrative implies an attempt to combine the best from both worlds—traditional medicine and alternative medicine, and utilizing remedies that have been proven to work over centuries  and centuries of time, and throughout multiple cultures around the world, essentially cherry picking the best of the best.

However, there are some who disagree with the effectiveness of CAM, and you should discuss with your doctor all the pros and cons before making a decision about alternative treatments.  But ultimately, the decision is up to you, so do your homework and learn all you can about your options.

Don’t give up!  Remember you are not the sum of your illness.   You are the sum of your experiences, and dealing with a major or chronic illness is only one part of your life experience.  It does not define who you are.

We are all bright and intelligent beings with the right to care for ourselves the best way we see fit.  Be your own advocate for wellness, and consider whether integrative medicine is right for you.


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