Integral healthcare: the benefits and challenges of integrating complementary and alternative medicine with a conventional healthcare practice

Integr Med Insights. 2009:4:13-20. doi: 10.4137/imi.s2239. Epub 2009 Oct 19.


Today's medicine is in the midst of an undeniable crisis. Calls to reform healthcare are in the forefront of economic and political discussions worldwide. Economic pressures reduce the amount of time physicians can spend with patients contributing to burnout among medical staff and endangering the patient iatrogenically. Politicians are getting involved as the public is calling for more affordable healthcare. A new paradigm must be embraced in order to address all aspects of this dilemma. It is clear that science and technology have resulted in vastly improved understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, but the emphasis on science and technology to the exclusion of other elements of healing has also served to limit the development of a model that humanizes healthcare. The healing of a patient must include more than the biology and chemistry of their physical body; by necessity, it must include the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. Because of these challenges, the development of an integral healthcare system that is rooted in appropriate regulation and supported by rigorous scientific evidence is the direction that many models of integrative healthcare are moving towards in the 21st century.

Keywords: alternative medicine; complimentary medicine; healthcare.