Understanding Integrative Medicine & Complementary Care
Mental health treatment is nearly synonymous with psychotropic medications. The rate of people prescribed medications for their mental health seems to rise every year; meanwhile, the rate of mental illness continues growing beyond that. This is not to say that prescription medications are obsolete – many individuals have seen significant improvements in their quality of life due to the addition of medication.
The question that repeatedly resurfaces is: does the medicine treat the source of the symptoms? In many cases, the answer is “no.” This leads to people discontinuing treatment altogether, and some may even avoid it. Integrative care, on the other hand, aims to treat the cause of the ailments. By using a holistic approach, integrative medicine combines the healing power of nature and modern medicine to heal and enhance the individual’s life.
At Mindful Living Group, we embrace traditional Hawaiian healing practices of ‘ai pono (healthy eating), ho’oponopono (emotional/spiritual balance), lomilomi (massage therapy), and use of medicinal plants all of which coincide with an integrative approach to medicine and healing. The relationship between the body, mind, and spirit is complex, and imbalance in one can disrupt another. Whether it’s psychotherapy, nutritional guidance, or even lifestyle changes, there is never a wrong time to begin healing and seeking a higher quality of life.
What is Integrative Medicine & Complementary Care?
Rooted in the healing practices used in the Ayurvedic, Daoist, Hippocratic, Arabian, Egyptian, and European traditions, integrative medicine and complementary care seek a more natural approach to medicine whenever possible in order to seek to strengthen the body’s natural processes and tendencies towards homeodynamic balance rather than interrupt and redirect them. Many complementary care medicines have been around and evolving for centuries. By combining complementary and integrative care and modern medicine, physicians seek to heal and prevent illness by focusing on the body’s inherent ability to heal itself and educating others about personal responsibility. This approach views the patient at the lead guided by physicians and practitioners in each patient’s individualized, client-centered treatment plan.
At the heart of all medical practices is to “do no harm.” The integrative approach establishes the grounds for which physicians and treatment team members such as therapists, bodyworkers, and physicians work together to utilize the least invasive treatments possible first and look closely at the unique role of how a client responds to different approaches to health and healing consulting evidence-based practices first and including more natural remedies such as bodywork, herbs, and foods. Nature, undeniably, is highly valued and respected for her ability to heal. While nature is typically associated with plants and all things outdoors, in integrative medicine and complementary care, we go deeper – to the natural biology and the unique needs of individual humans knowing each person’s body, mind and spirit respond differently to specific treatment modalities, foods, and medicines.
Symptoms are like a roadmap that can direct your doctor to the root cause. Identifying and treating the cause is the third principle. During the process of identifying and treating the cause of the person’s symptoms, doctors will assess the individual’s medical history, current state of mind, and physical health. The vis medicatrix naturae is the process of healing a person’s “life force,” promoting the body’s inherent desire to heal.
Integrative physicians believe that patients should have an active part in their healing – this includes understanding the information provided. Acting as teachers and guides, integrative physicians take it upon themself to educate their patients and promote curiosity and continuous learning. Education raises awareness for prevention and an early intervention and proactive approach to health. Popular treatments used in integrative care involve nutrition education and diet changes, behavioral changes (exercise and lifestyle), manual therapies, herbal medicines, supplements, psychotherapy, acupuncture, and prescription medications. A holistic approach to medicine that center’s on encouraging a person’s body to heal itself.
Manipulative therapy is the process of kneading and manipulating muscles and joint mobilization. Typically done by a physical therapist or massage therapist and used to treat musculoskeletal pain and disability.
Plant medicine and connection to nature is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. Healing in Hawaiian culture combines the body, mind, and spirit to reach optimal results without seeing them as separate parts. A reliance on spiritual insight and wisdom at the lead. Mindful Living Group regularly hosts and/or consults with Hawaiian cultural practitioners and provides access to use of Fern and/or Hawaiian plant tinctures or topical formulas as well as periodic educational workshops.
What Are The Benefits Of Integrative Medicine and Complementary Care?
The benefits of Integrative Medicine and Complementary Care are unique and abundant because of the holistic dynamics and its focus on healing the mind, body, and spirit together as one.
Nutrition’s role in our health can be underestimated. Change in diet from high-sugar foods to a Mediterranean style diet for example has proven to help many people who suffer from depression. When we consume excessive amounts of sugar, our body struggles to balance blood sugar levels. This imbalance can influence a disruption in brain function from an excess amount of stress hormones. Increasing natural fibers for example has many gut health benefits, which have been shown to help improve anxiety disorders.
Whether it’s strenuous cardio exercise, yoga, or dancing in the living room, physical activity releases endorphins (part of the group of happy hormones). Exercise or physical activity is notable for its ability to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, heart health, and stress reduction.
Integrative medicine is one of the most individualized and holistic methods of treatment due to its inclusiveness and ability to work with many paths of health and healing. These physicians are open to doing what is necessary to find the source of discomfort or illness. Techniques such as psychotherapy and mindfulness practices are preferred treatment approaches at Mindful Living Group due to their abilities to purge the roots of suffering in the mind and spirit often attributed to disease and disharmony in the body. However, the Mindful Living Group recognizes that often the body contributes to disharmony and disease of the mind and spirit as they are all equally important and connected.
Integrative Medicine and Complementary Care at Mindful Living Group
Mindful Living Group offers classes on Hawaiian culture and plant medicine and are eager to share the knowledge of the islands’ medicinal plants, foraging methods integrated with mindful practices, and more. Changing dietary habits can be challenging, to say the least. Re-learning eating habits and understanding how foods work to nourish our bodies as well as our perception of good vs bad foods can be overwhelming. This is why there are therapists, physicians, and groups to help guide, educate and support the process. If food is not your area of struggle, worry not. Lifestyle programs and groups go beyond the dinner table and are offered in all areas of life – relationships, support system, and fitness.
Psychiatric, psychotherapy, and counseling services are often offered to start especially if you are not sure where to begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for example changes patterns of thought which changes patterns of feelings, emotions, and behavior (interactions) and hence, quality of life. This includes mutually satisfying interactions with family, friends, and navigating the current dominant instant gratification western way with less stress. The mind is like a vehicle and the body is like the road on which it travels. Emotions being neurochemical patterns and processes, and our patterns of emotions and perceptions determine how happy we are in the world and in our lives. Without healthy neurological “roads” we are in for a bumpy ride. The professional therapists, nurse-practitioners, and staff are ready to sit down and discuss your needs and goals and create a personalized ‘game plan.’ If you’re feeling well or wanting to try something new, indulge yourself in Healing Touch or Acupuncture sessions to improve or enhance sleep, reduce pain or discomfort, and much more.
Integrative medicine and complementary care in many cases are substantially more cost effective in the long run than modern medical practices alone. In addition, enhanced quality of life is exceedingly long-term and beneficial both relationships to oneself as well as others.
How to Get Started
If you are ready to make a move to live well and to live aloha, contact us today to set up your first appointment. It’s okay if you don’t know where to start – you are welcome to pick a service and we will help establish and create a treatment plan and help you connect to other services if needed together.