Good Tidings About Integrative Therapies
Researchers continue to find evidence that therapies such as acupuncture, Tai Qi, mindfulness and stress reduction can improve quality of life in significant ways. The latest issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs is devoted to research on integrative approaches for people with cancer. The journal offers free access to all the articles, which cite evidence that these modalities can help reduce anxiety, pain, fatigue and inflammation. Though symptom relief is important, some practitioners embrace a more comprehensive vision.
In "Academic Health Centers and the Growth of Integrative Medicine", Benjamin Kligler and Margaret Chesney point out that "Integrative medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.
"As this definition implies, although an openness to using therapies such as acupuncture or massage is a component of the integrative approach, integrative medicine goes far beyond simply combining the therapies previously described as 'complementary/alternative medicine' with conventional care. It describes a change in philosophy, which expands our role beyond that of treating disease to reaffirm the commitment to treating the whole person."
The articles included in the journal describe a growing acceptance of the use of integrative care and an exciting shift towards a team-based response to patient needs. As Josephine Briggs, Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, concludes in her article, "A variety of complementary approaches and a number of practitioners from disciplines outside mainstream medicine are increasingly part of the integrative approach to symptom management. This monograph will, we hope, stimulate continued interest in testing these approaches and in their continued improvement. Our patients deserve nothing less."