by Guest Bloggers Steve Amoils, M.D. & Sandi Amoils, M.D.
Do you think of the art of medicine as something that is static, or do you believe it evolves? Do you believe we should concentrate only recent scientific inquiry, or do you think that traditional medicine that has evolved over centuries has some validity? From our earliest days as young physicians, the integrative medicine approach to treating health problems has made intuitive sense to us. We don’t view our patients as just their illnesses. To us, a patient isn’t just menopause problems, cancer, diabetes, or back pain. Our patients are individuals, with lives that extend far beyond what we see of them in an office visit. They deserve to be treated as people, not problems.
Integrative medicine looks at the whole person. It provides the best of conventional medicine in tandem with the best of complementary and alternative therapies. It is a synergistic, real-world, and evidence-based approach to treatment.
What Is Wellness?
Many people think of wellness as a blood test, Pap smear, mammogram, or colonoscopy that shows no problems. This isn’t true wellness—these are merely tests that assist in the early detection of illness.
To us, true wellness is the prevention of illness but also the promotion of vitality. This includes physical well-being, emotional stability, intellectual acuity, a sense of openness, and being able to embrace change. Wellness includes the ability to speak your own truth, a sense of intuition, and spiritual well-being. Integrative medicine seeks to promote wellness at every level.
The Goals of Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine has five main goals, all emphasizing health and well-being. In integrative medicine, care is:
- Personalized. Health care is customized to your genetics, body chemistry, stress level, and lifestyle.
- Proactive. An approach that involves you in your own care, focusing on practical action steps.
- Preventive. Treatment not only resolves current health problems, but also reduces the risks of future problems before they develop.
- Patient-centered. Treatment that includes you as the primary member of your health care team, acknowledging that you know your symptoms better than anyone does.
- Empowering. Providing you with an expanded range of tools that support your health and well-being, helping you to become more responsible for your health outcome.
In our practice at the Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine in Cincinnati, and as explained in our book Get Well & Stay Well: Optimal Health through Transformational Medicine, we take integrative medicine one step further.
Transforming the Way We Think about Medicine
Often patients seek out alternative and complementary therapies because of the focus these treatments place on returning to an active state of well-being. In the old medical paradigm,
doctors frowned on these approaches. Today, integrative medicine is much more widely accepted, and most physicians are much more open to these therapies. In our practice, we provide the highest standard of conventional medical care—and we also use acupuncturists, chiropractors, energy healers, massage therapists, and others who provide healing care.
In the old medical paradigm, doctors gave orders and patients obediently followed them, often imperfectly. Integrative medicine asks patients to play a much more active role in their own health care. Patients are encouraged to look at what their doctors and therapists can do for them—and what they can do for themselves.
In practicing integrative medicine, we have learned to use the best of both complementary and conventional medicine to create a new level of vibrant health and well-being for our patients. We have come to realize that we can all move beyond disease and discomfort into a new state of better health. It’s an approach we can all apply to our lives on a daily basis. In other words, we can utilize illness as a fulcrum to change someone’s life, an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade.
What we have learned from using this approach is that when we look at the patient as a whole person, we can treat multiple problems at the same time. We can accomplish three things at once: Reduce the symptoms of illness, prevent future illness, and promote a feeling of health and vitality. At the same time, the patient learns to use a health crisis as a way to achieve positive life changes. We do this by utilizing the best of conventional and cutting edge approaches, and combining traditional wisdom from approaches such as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. In doing so, we optimize physical health, achieve psychological transformation and spiritual growth. This is what we call Transformational Medicine.
Steve Amoils, M.D., and Sandi Amoils, M.D. are Co-Medical Directors of the Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine (AIIM) in Cincinnati. Now a major national clinic for integrative medicine, AIIM averages over 20,000 patient visits each year. The Amoils and their clinical staff offer integrative therapies and functional medicine assessments in order to recommend lifestyle and nutritional changes that reduce illness and promote well-being. Steve and Sandi are the authors of Get Well & Stay Well: Optimal Health through Transformational Medicine. Learn more about the book and their work at www.getwell-staywell.org.