In the world of food allergies, I have been on a journey for the past 10 years. First with my son and now with myself. In the process, I have been laughed at, had eyes rolled at me, dismissed and just plain ignored by many of the Doctors that I went to in trust to help me. During my process of finding Doctors that could and would help me, I stumbled across the term ‘Integrative Doctor”. There has been some confusion about what exactly an Integrative Doctor is and how they are different from your general run-of-the-mill Doctors. And for the most part, I have noticed that people tend to fear the unknown, so I would like to try to explain the term and (hopefully) ease your fear.
The Doctor that you go to for a well visit, a vaccine or just for a yearly check -up is most likely your typical traditional Doctor. Although Doctors are becoming more open-minded, most Doctors in family practice are treating their patients symptoms. You are sick, take this pill. You had a side effect from that pill? Here, try this pill for that pill. They are not mean-spirited or trying to brush us off. For the most part, Doctors are good people who are trying to live up to the oath that they took to “First, do no harm”. But what a lot of these Doctors are doing is treating us as numbers rather than people. This may be fine for some people but for people like me, I was seeking other ways to treat what I had. I wanted a Doctor that I could talk to and discuss other possibilities for treatment without having eyes roll at me. I wanted a Doctor that would close his medical book that told him “If patient has symptoms A, B and C then treat with prescription X, Y and Z”. This is where the Integrative term comes in.
As Dr. Andrew Weil, MD explains on his site DrWeil.com, “Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. The principles of integrative medicine: – A partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process, – Appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response, – Consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body, – A philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically, – Recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, be inquiry driven, and be open to new paradigms, – Use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible, – Use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease, – Training of practitioners to be models of health and healing, committed to the process of self-exploration and self-development”
What does this mean? This means that your Doctor is looking at you as YOU and what he or she can do specifically for YOU and how your body reacts, not just what they were told in Medical School. It’s personalized medical care. There are no voodoo dolls or medicine men but fully accredited Medical Doctors that are willing to let you allow them to be a part of your health and well-being. Integrative Doctors can be a great part of determining food allergies or other health issues when you have found little or no help from your other Doctors. Always make sure that you feel comfortable with the Doctor that is treating you and never compromise your health for the sake of anyone else. As I have said before, in the end what is more important, the people that have not helped you or the ones that have?