Understanding Complementary or Integrative Medicine

silhouette of seated figure on beach at sunsetAs its name implies, complementary medicine is used as an adjunct to standard medical care. Complementary medicine is an integrative health approach that encompasses alternative medical practices as well as standard medical care. Several practices fall under the category of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and advanced clinical nutrition. It is important to note that the line between alternative or integrative medicine and standard medicine is changing all the time, as practices that once were considered alternative are accepted into the mainstream. That is why the best path to understanding complementary medicine is to focus on its approach. Dr. Bret Mosher takes a functional perspective that integrates the best practices from alternative and traditional medicine to help patients achieve optimal wellness and vitality. 

Integrated Therapies

At one time, chiropractic, massage therapy, and meditation were considered strictly alternative health practices. Today, it is not unusual for patients to utilize these practices and therapies in addition to seeing a regular doctor. Meanwhile, modern medicine is increasingly aware and accepting of these and other CAM techniques. In fact, many complementary therapies are based on anatomy and physiology, just like standard medicine. More and more, alternative practices such as acupuncture and yoga are viewed as helpful adjuncts that can coexist peacefully side-by-side with, and even enhance, standard medicine. These changing attitudes are of great benefit for healthcare consumers, as it is easier than ever to take advantage of both worlds.

Guiding Principles for Integrative Health

Dr. Mosher practices functional medicine, which is more of an alternative perspective to traditional medicine than a collection of practices. His approach is guided by the following tenets:

  • Treating the whole person: The functional perspective does not view the mind and body as separate entities, but as one integrated system. Our environment is an extension of this system. Furthermore, it treats the body as an integrated system rather than a collection of independent organs to be categorized into medical specialties.
  • Trying more conservative therapies first: The goal is to employ less surgery and pharmaceutical interventions and more natural remedies and noninvasive treatments. For example, Dr. Mosher can guide patients in ridding their environment and food of toxins, rather than treating the effects of toxins. This is also often the most cost-effective approach to wellness.
  • Viewing health as vitality, instead of as an absence of disease: According to the traditional perspective, you are healthy until you have a medical problem or symptoms, and then you see a doctor. The doctor then treats the immediate symptoms. The functional perspective looks deeper to see what is causing the symptoms, and focuses on maintaining optimal health at all times.
  • Being patient-centered vs. disease-centered: The functional perspective identifies the underlying causes of disease by looking at factors such as the patient’s unique genetic makeup. It is highly customized and individualized to each patient, and involves more discussion and less medical testing.
  • Allowing patients to take charge of their own health and medical problems: The functional perspective focuses on prevention instead of acute care. It looks at patterns and identifies problems early, which gives patients more control. For example, Dr. Mosher can help patients identify lifestyle factors, such as stress, that are contributing to their symptoms.

With an understanding of integrative medicine, you can combine and benefit from both approaches.

By focusing on systems, patterns, and the whole person, Dr. Mosher guides patients to wellness. He is a partner and educator who believes it is of the utmost importance for patients to understand their own health, as well as their healthcare treatments.

How You Can Benefit from Complementary Medicine

Patients do not need to choose between alternative and standard medicine. With an understanding of complementary medicine, you can combine and benefit from both approaches. If you are selecting a complementary health practitioner, remember that their credentials and experience are just as important as those of standard medical care providers. Also, be sure to tell both your doctor and your complementary provider of all drugs, treatments, and remedies you take. To learn more about Dr. Mosher's approach to health and how he can help you, call (858) 679-2995 or contact us online today.

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