The Goal Of Integrative Medicine: To Empower Patients

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness August 02, 2017
Alternative medicine practices have lived with a negative stigma for decades. We’ve all heard the scary voodoo stories about healing through what seems like “magic” treatments, but in actuality there are many types of alternative medicines that can help patients heal both physically and mentally.

Alternative treatments have been making their way into common practice through integrative medicine. While alternative treatments are practiced without the use of conventional medicine, integrative medicine combines the two to create a personalized treatment plan that best fits the patient’s needs.

People have found solace in integrative medicine for many issues, such as chronic pain, nausea, fatigue, high blood pressure, headaches, and muscle tension. It also can help clear the mind, offering potential relief to those who struggle with anxiety, stress, or depression.

“We have patients come in with every type of condition. Many patients are simply seeking wellness and health strategies that will optimize the way they feel and help prevent disease as they age,” said Melinda Ring, MD, executive director of The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We offer up diagnostic and treatment options that are not typically available through conventional medicine.”

Some of these treatment options include:
Massage therapy
Chiropractic medicine
Behavioral medicine
Energy medicine
• Naturopathic medicine
Exercise therapy
• Health psychology (diet/nutrition)
Traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture/herbs)
Integrative Women’s health
• Corporate wellness

Integrative medicine has many benefits as well. It takes into account the whole person – their habits, the food they eat, the relationships they have, and the environment that they are in. A strong relationship is built between patient and physician as they work through a treatment plan.

“If a patient knows they would like to use a specific modality, such as acupuncture, they are able to schedule those appointments directly through our office,” said Dr. Ring. “If they have questions or don’t know what could work for their situation, we encourage an integrative medicine or naturopathic medicine consultation to help those patients understand their options and work with the provider to create a personalized plan that meets their goals and lifestyle.”

These types of treatments are generally non-invasive and often can be practiced at home. There is an emphasis on health promotion through healthy living, which puts a focus on preventing illness rather than waiting to feel symptoms. Treatments in integrative medicine are typically on going, meaning that even after a patient’s symptoms have been treated, they still may participate in the therapy.

“Our goal is to empower patients so they gain the knowledge and skills to take charge of their own health,” said Dr. Ring.

 Patients are able to schedule appointments in all treatment areas as needed. The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine is also the home of practicing primary care physicians, treating patients from pediatrics all the way through to geriatrics.

“We treat the whole family here,” said Dr. Ring.

To learn more about integrative medicine or to schedule an appointment, visit The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

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