By Angela M. Johnson
Did you know that as many as 50 percent of Americans, of all ages, use some form of integrative medicine (IM) to help enhance health or well-being? For those who suffer from chronic illness, as many as 80 percent incorporate IM in their care. Examples of IM include acupuncture, biofeedback, nutritional/herbal supplements, relaxation, meditation, massage, yoga.
Do you use IM? During your last doctor’s visit, did you have a conversation about it? If you haven’t talked with your doctor, you’re not alone. Surveys show that as many as 50 to 70 percent of patients do not talk with their doctors about IM use because (1) their physician never asked; (2) the patient didn’t feel like the MD needed to know; (3) there wasn’t enough time during the office visit.
The term “integrative medicine” includes healing-oriented medicine that takes the whole person (e.g., mind, body, spirit) into account. It emphasizes:
- a respect of the body’s own ability to help enhance the healing process
- the importance of the relationship between health care practitioner and patient
- a consideration of all factors in life that may influence health, wellness, and disease
- inter-professional collaboration between IM practitioners and conventional health care professionals (MDs, RNs, etc)
- use of integrative medicine modalities that, in scientific studies, have been found both safe and effective.
While it can be helpful and empowering to use IM, it is extremely important to talk with your health care providers about it. If you’ve never done so before, make a commitment to yourself to do so at your next visit. Why? Well, even though some IM modalities, such as herbs or supplements, are marketed as “natural,” there is a possibility that they could cause drug-herb interactions.
This means that the combination of an herbal product with your prescription medication may reduce or over-enhance the effectiveness of your medication, and perhaps lead to severe consequences. Additionally, it is important to know that the IM modality you’re using is both safe and effective for your own condition(s). Your doctor or nurse has access to a variety of research articles and reputable scientifically based Web sites to ensure what that you’re doing is safe, and hopefully very helpful for you in mind, body, and spirit.
For more information about how integrative medicine may help you, contact the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at (312) 563-2531.