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What is integrative medicine to me?

I'm both a scientist and a healthcare practitioner.  After studying Chinese medicine and naturopathy in Dublin for 4 years at the College for Naturopathic Medicine, I trained in hospitals of integrative medicine in Beijing for 6 months.  It was there that I saw in practice what integrative care looks like.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has 5 branches; acupuncture, herbal preparations, tuina (Chinese physiotherapy), moxibustion (heat therapy) and cupping.  I mostly use acupuncture in my practice.  In China, these techniques are not 'alternative', they are a fully integrated part of the conventional medical model.  All the doctors I trained under were conventional doctors who also specialised in TCM.  We worked on both in-patients and out-patients.  The doctors would prescribe according to what the individual patient needed and responded to, whether that was herbs, pharmaceutical drugs, acupuncture or a combination of treatments.  There is no argument about the superiority of one modality over another.  The integrative medicine (IM) model simply chooses the most beneficial and cost-effective method for the patient.

Where does it fit?

I'm often asked by healthcare professionals where an alternative medicine like acupuncture would find a place in the conventional system.  The pervading view is that the system currently in place is complete and has no room for extra modalities.  It is now known that we need more wholeness in our approach to medicine as we can see from the branch of medicine called Systems Biology and great steps are being taken to provide "personalised medicine" for major diseases like cancer and heart disease.  I usually tell medics about the kind of patient profile I come across in my practice.

The kind of people I treat almost always come to me with one of the following scenarios, what I call a dead-end diagnosis:​

 

  • all available medical tests have been performed and no disease found but symptoms are present. The patient is sent home with no resolution.

  • the patient has been given a medication with expected beneficial results but the side effects are unbearable.

  • the patient has been given a medication that is ineffective.

  • the patient has been given a medication that effectively treats symptoms but symptoms return as soon as they cease treatment, the patient would prefer a treatment with lasting effect​.

  • the patient has been given a diagnosis for a condition for which there is no available conventional treatment.


A therapy like acupuncture really excels in the area of preventative care.  Conditions considered non-urgent or untreatable such as burn-out syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, depression/anxiety and chronic pain respond excellently to acupuncture treatment.  The treatment of these whole-body conditions needs to be re-labelled as urgent because they are the forewarnings of more serious diseases that are very difficult and expensive to treat by any modality, conventional or otherwise, such as cancer and heart disease. Europe is experiencing a rapidly growing aging population, health solutions that will keep people able-bodied into their later years is imperative for a functioning society.

 

If you feel it's time to find your own way out of disease, make an appointment for a consultation to speak with me directly and I will give you insights and solutions for your health issues.