Integrative Medicine, sometimes referred to as alternative or complementary medicine, is a treatment programme that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It places emphasis on the therapeutic relationship between doctor and patient, where the individuality of the patient is acknowledged, incorporating their experiences, mindset and health goals. The practitioner can combine several alternative therapies together with conventional medicine, or not. The process is done in consultation with the patient’s input and is supported in a personal way by the doctor.
A working partnership
- It’s important to note that conventional medicine is not necessarily rejected, but may still be used in conjunction with alternative remedies. Most importantly, only alternative medicines that have been scientifically tested for positive results, are used.
- The process continues to be inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
- Both doctor and patient work together a team to find the best solutions in the healing process, which is seen as an individual and personal process for every patient.
- Healing is considered a holistic event for the body, including all aspects of its functioning, mind, spirit and community.
- There are often side effects to traditional medicines and using a variety of interventions that are less invasive is seen as more practical and gentle on the body, while still remaining effective.
The range of conditions that are open to testing this approach to healing, are growing daily. For instance, depression, arthritis or sleeplessness amongst others, have been found to respond effectively to alternative treatments. There is a greater amount of information and transparency because the practice is one of careful investigation, building strong scientific knowledge while creating individually-layered solutions.
The combination of conventional healthcare with alternative medicine
Integrative medicine is aligned to work with the natural functions of the body. Very often conventional medicine is seen to be merely treating symptoms rather than the underlying dysfunctional physical cause. As a result a growing number of practitioners are looking at integrating more holistic treatments such as nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, etc, that may be helpful in treating these underlying causes, or even ultimately contributing to cures.
The result is that conventional Western medicine is leaning ever more positively towards complementary medicines and treatments. The logic of introducing an integrative approach to medicine into national health care systems has been seen as a wise move, after all it can prove both cheaper and successful. Not to mention the fact that better health at greater affordability and sustainability will lower the attendance of patients at both general practices and hospitals.
Certainly studies are ongoing. There is a significant amount of evidence to support naturopathic therapies, but often these are small and do not have sufficient funding. To put treatments with years of evidence behind them through modern, acceptable drug trials would prove highly expensive. Therefore, it is the doctors who are equipped with knowledge on both sides of the spectrum who are able to pioneer this work effectively with patients who prefer to investigate this newly-developing route to better health.
Naturopathic medicine: is based on the principle that nature has the potential to heal any dysfunction of the body. Integrative medicine uses many of the same approaches because the practices align across many issues such as: diet, lifestyle, exercise, herbal medicine, detoxing, etc. But while natural alternatives remain popular, integrative medicine uses only those treatments that have been proven to show positive healing potential.
Dr Louise Lindenberg
Dr Louise Lindenberg runs an integrative medical practice in Durbanville, Cape Town. She incorporates dietary intervention, supplementation, nutrition, phytotherapy/herbal medicine, and allopathic medicine in a holistic health care environment.
Her passion is working with children on the Autistic Spectrum, including Autism, PDD, ADD, ADHD and behavioural problems. She follows a biomedical approach in treating children to improve their outcome in the Autistic Spectrum. Due to her specialised knowledge she is a sought after speaker and frequently addresses other medical professionals, teachers and parents on various topics relating to autism.
Find more information at: www.drlindenberg.co.za