Depending on where you look or who you ask, you will get a different answer. Andrew Weil, who founded the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in 1994, chose the phrase “integrative medicine” to talk about the type of medicine he wanted to practice and teach. He has defined it briefly as:

“An intelligent combination of conventional and alternative medicine.”

and more completely as:

“A healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”  Here is a short video I which Dr. Weil describes his view of IM: What Is Integrative Medicine? | Andrew Weil, M.D. 

Importantly, Integrative Medicine (IM) is not “anti” conventional medicine, nor is it the uncritical acceptance of alternative therapies.  Rather it uses the best of conventional medicine AND the best of alternative or complementary options.

Integrative medicine is an approach to healthcare and healing that addresses the full range of physical, mental, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Treatments plans are highly personalized to the patients’ unique situation and based upon proven healing modalities drawn from both conventional and alternative disciplines.

As an anesthesiologist, health services researcher, and graduate of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at what is now named the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Stoner uses a similar definition. At Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic, we express our philosophy of integrative medicine with the following foundational principles:

  1. Patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
  2. All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.
  3. Appropriate use of both conventional and alternative methods facilitates the body’s innate healing response.
  4. Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.
  5. Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
  6. Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are the foundations of good health.

Guided by these principles, we provide care that goes beyond the treatment of symptoms to address all the causes of an illness. In doing so, our patients’ immediate health needs as well as the effects of the long-term and complex interplay between biological, behavioral, psychosocial and environmental influences are taken into account. Treatment plans may combine evidence-based therapies from both conventional (Western or Allopathic medicine) and complementary modalities including nutrition, acupuncture, massage, psychology or other forms of talk therapy, mind-body therapies, and a wide range of other health and healing disciplines.

Many of these same principles are portrayed in this “Wheel of Health” diagram created by Duke Integrative Medicine department of Duke University which offers a very nice visual aid showing you, the patient, as the center around which health and healing revolve.

This diagram expresses the partnership between patient and practitioner, and emphasizes self-care as a very important part of health and well-being. It also highlights the many aspects of whole health, incorporating many modalities beyond just the physical body and treatment of physical symptoms.

At Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic, we apply this approach in our treatment of: major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction. If you or someone you know suffers from any of these conditions and this approach to health and wellness resonates with you, please contact us for more information.

For those interested in exploring the frontiers of integrative medicine, the Body of Wonder Podcast series by Dr. Weil and Dr. Victoria Maizes, are an informative and enjoyable way to learn a bit more.