Integrative Medicine is a relatively new concept, although it certainly reflects many of the ideals proposed by Hippocrates. It should not be confused with "complimentary" or "alternative" medicine as the two are not synonymous, though integrative medicine may incorporate some therapies which are considered in western societies to be "alternative". In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as "a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country's own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system". The International Integrative Health Institute describes integrative medicine as combining "the best practices of complementary and orthodox medicine to maximize the body’s innate potential for self-healing, and ideally involves a partnership in which patient and practitioner together address healing on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels."

The Center for Integrative Medicine defines integrative medicine as "healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle... it is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies". It outlines the  Defining Principles of Integrative Medicine as follows:

  1. Patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.

  2. All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.

  3. Appropriate use of both conventional and alternative methods facilitates the body's innate healing response.

  4. Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.

  5. Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically.

  6. Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.

  7. Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.

  8. Practitioners of integrative medicine should exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.

Like mainstream medicine, Integrative Medicine uses principles of genetics, physiologymolecular biologybiophysics, and other natural sciences. Unlike mainstream reductionist approaches however, Integrative Medicine takes a broader and more holistic approach, including how genetics, biochemistry, nutrition, lifestyle, and social connections all interrelate and each play an integral role in an individual’s physical and mental status. Where possible and appropriate nutrition and lifestyle changes as well as other natural treatment approaches are utilised in favour of pharmaceuticals. Modern medicine is incorporated and applied where necessary. Integrative practice is slowly but surely transforming medicine.

©  Website created by Mary Jane Lawson. Updated 2019.