What is Integrative Medicine?
"The Medicine of the Future"
WHAT IS IT?
Integrative Medicine is a medical sub-speciality, in the same way that a doctor would have to study further to specialise in internal medicine, surgery or oncology, but not commonly available as a speciality or sub-speciality, in most medical schools, but only certain universities internationally. Integrative Medicine is the study and practice of conventional medicine (orthodox, allopathic, biomedicine) together with complementary and alternative and advanced cutting-edge medicine.
WHO CAN PRACTICE IT?
Any doctor who has already qualified with a MD or MBChB degree, who then studies further for a number of years part time or full time, in additional medical or health subjects or disciplines, such as clinical nutrition, naturopathy, chiropractic, homotoxicology, homeopathy, osteopathy, herbology, acupuncture, ethnomedicine, orthomolecular medicine, epigenetics, nutrigenomics, neurolinguistic programming, psychoneuroimmunology and endocrinology, energy medicine, mind-body therapy, oxygen based therapies and light, sound and frequency based medicine and therapies.
CAN A NON-MEDICAL DOCTOR PRACTICE INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE?
Yes, but he or she can only practice in the disciplines that they have qualified or trained in, for example, a Clinical Nutritionist or Chiropractor or Homeopath cannot call themselves an Integrative Medicine Doctor or Physician if they do not have a medical degree. They can however practice integrative health care, which involves the combination of many different types of treatments, but not for example surgery, prescribing pharmaceutical medication or administering intravenous drips, as a doctor does.
IS INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE SUPERIOR TO CONVENTIONAL OR COMPLEMENTARY OR ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE?
Generally, yes, except for emergency medicine or highly specialised medicine, for example technically complicated surgical procedures or interventions. Integrative Medicine takes a holistic approach to health care which includes diet, lifestyle, exercise, mind-body balance, pharmaceutical medicine, natural medicine, food supplements, surgery, multiple diagnostics, investigations and treatment modalities.
WHY ARE THERE SO FEW INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE DOCTORS / PHYSICIANS?
This is because it is not a medical speciality degree offered at South African medical schools, as the medical authorities are very conservative. Very few doctors in South Africa have had the opportunity to study, or want to study Integrative Medicine, as it requires a considerable amount of additional academic studying and practical experience. Integrative Medicine is also not fully covered by Medical Aid schemes; therefore, they do not pay for all Integrative Medicine services and products. Most of the top medical universities in the world include Integrative Medicine in their training courses or clinics and hospitals, and it is the fastest growing discipline in medicine globally and will become the new “medicine of the future”.