Mainstream healthcare is evolving. The use of Holistic Medicine as well as Complementary and alternative Medicines (CAM) is growing and trends show it’s not slowing down. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines “CAM” as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” The NCCAM places these modalities into five categories.
- Alternative medical systems (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy)
- Mind-body interventions (biofeedback, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, yoga, guided imagery)
- Biologically based therapies (diets, supplements, herbals, vitamins, detoxification, elimination)
- Manipulation and body-based methods (massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique)
- Energy therapies (acupuncture, Reiki, magnets, therapeutic touch)
There are several factors attributed to this growth. CAM effectiveness is being supported by scientific research. It was indicated in a research study at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut that Reiki improved patient sleep by 86 percent, reduced pain by 78 percent, reduced nausea by 80 percent, and reduced anxiety during pregnancy by 94 percent.
Conventional medical practitioners are also acknowledging that healing can occur through CAM.
A September 15, 2008 press release from the American Hospital Association stated, “Complementary and alternative medicine has shown great promise in supporting and stimulating healing,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “It’s one of the many tools hospitals look to as they continue to create optimal healing environments for the patients they serve.”
There is also a demand for more natural forms of treatment. A report by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealed that 33.2 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and over used a complementary health approach in the last 12 months in 2012.
Although the NCCAM does not consider CAM modalities to be part of conventional medicine, many people that use CAM also use conventional medicine. There is a definite trend toward integration and treating patients using functional medicine, which is a more holistic approach that addresses the whole person not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional Medicine considers the patient’s genetics, lifestyle habits, environmental exposure, physiology and biochemistry among other factors in order to determine the underlying causes of their illness.
Dr. Karlene ChinQuee is a diplomat of the American Academy of Anti-Aging as well as the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a functional medicine doctor at the ChinQuee Center for Health and Wellness in New York City.
When I asked her about the rise of holistic and alternative treatments in mainstream healthcare she said, “It is both amazing and gratifying to witness the amount of interest functional medicine is receiving today. The doctor of the future will employ the tools provided by functional medicine/integrative medicine to help recognize, manage, and prevent the root causes that are at the foundation of chronic disease. It is my belief that this medicine is not ‘alternative’ medicine but instead ‘state-of-the-art medicine. It is smart medicine and ought to be taught in medical schools.”
A movement toward integrative medicine being taught in medical schools is also evident. The Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM) is an inter-departmental center within the University of Maryland School of Medicine that currently has 16 hours dedicated to complementary and integrative medicine education in the required curriculum as well as a month-long elective. The Alpert Medical School of Brown University offers a concentration in integrative medicine.
The integration of holistic methods can also be found in the types of professional associations that are in existence today. Some examples include the American Holistic Nurses Association, the Holistic Pediatric Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. One can also find a range of healthcare professionals that have taken on a more holistic approach such as holistic occupational therapists, holistic psychotherapists, holistic physical therapists and holistic gynecologists, to name a few.
It’s clear to see that mainstream healthcare is changing and the use of holistic treatments, CAM, and functional medicine is increasing. We are living in the information age and people are more informed than ever about the various types of modalities available. Patients are becoming more empowered to make their own choices regarding which methods will best serve them. Having a holistic and integrated approach can only broaden a healthcare professional’s options so that he or she is able to apply the most optimal treatment that a patient would need.
About the Author
Roslyn Yee, CHHC, is a holistic wellness and lifestyle coach who helps clients discover what truly nourishes them mentally, physically, and spiritually so they can achieve more joy, less stress, and lasting lifestyle change. She’s also the author of a booklet titled “104 Simple Stress Relief Tips” and creator of the Holistic Stress Relief 5 Day Audio Course, which is a complimentary program available on her website www.VibrantLifestyleAcademy.com.