Why Integrative Medicine?
Lots of patients, and even more doctors, ask me "Why Integrative Medicine? What is that?" First, the "what" of Integrative Medicine. To "integrate" is to seamlessly bring together things that are different, or even perceived as "opposed". In the case of Integrative Medicine, two “opposing” ideas are Western and Eastern or “Oriental” Medicine. These are often thought of as “opposing” because they approach the patient from entirely different perspectives. Western medicine is more about the physical or material body, and almost completely ignores the spiritual and pays scant attention to the emotional health or community needs of the human-being. Eastern medicine, in contrast, is almost entirely focused on restoring the spiritual health of the patient, believing that by restoring spiritual health, the physical health will follow. Eastern medicine is focused on prevention, Western medicine on the “cure”.
Integrative Medicine includes more than just Eastern and Western medicine, however. It also brings back into Western Medicine the relationship between diet and health, exercise and wellness, community and healing. It brings back the all important relationship between the doctor and the patient, and the importance of that relationship in healing.
As a doctor, I do not believe that I heal patients. Rather, I believe that every human-being is an exquisitely evolved entity that constantly moves seamlessly towards wellness and health. In other words, patients heal themselves. My only job is to help patients figure out what is getting in their way, and then remove those obstacles to help their own natural healing processes restore them to homeostasis and wellness.
“Doctor” Means “Teacher”. In fact, in Japan where I was stationed as a doctor for two years while in the Navy, Japanese speakers called me “Sensei”, which is the Japanese word for Teacher. Imagine how surprised I was, after ten years of study to become a doctor, to once again find myself called “Sensei” as I was when I was teaching martial arts. I kept wondering to myself, “How did they know?” before realizing they meant “Doctor”. Integrative Medicine allows me to emphasize and expand my role as “teacher” for my patients. I can teach them what I have learned about medicine, about their bodies and, ultimately, about their spiritual being and how it impacts their health.
So, the “why” of Integrative Medicine is that it gives me so many more tools to use for and with my patients. I can focus more on the Eastern philosophy of aligning the spirit to prevent and cure disease, while still having all of the very potent Western treatments to cure and treat disease that is further along. Integrative Medicine allows the patient to gain control of their healing, the patient to own the disease process and the patient to walk the road back to well. In the long run, Integrative Medicine means less work for me, and better outcomes for the patients—and that is what we are all about at World of Wellness!