What Is Integrative Health and Why is it Important?
In the mid-1990s, integrative health became a goal in Western medicine, and the objective was more than buzzwords. This multipronged approach to human health and wellness found medical practitioners teaming up across multiple disciplines to zero in collectively on the entire person—a change to the fragmented and costly standards practiced across previous decades. The exciting news, aside from better care, is that it’s easier than ever to be part of the team and to learn an integrative health and wellness discipline that is integral to the very best individual outcomes.
What is integrative health?
Last year, more than 200 medical professionals provided input and a new and clearer description of integrative health entered our wellness lexicon. According to The Institute for Integrated Health (IIH), the most recognized definition of “integrative health” is as follows:
“… is a state of well-being in body, mind and spirit that reflects aspects of the individual, community, and population. It is affected by 1) individual biological factors and behaviors, social values, and public policy, 2) the physical, social, and economic environment, and 3) an integrative healthcare system that involves the active participation of the individual in the healthcare team in applying a broad spectrum of preventive and therapeutic approaches. Integrative health encourages individuals, social groups, and communities to develop ways of living that promote meaning, resilience and well-being across the life course.” [emphasis added]
Integrative health empowers and encourages people and providers
This method of health and wellness asks the individual to look beyond conventional medicine and take a proactive role in their own well-being. This is only natural. We obsess over our outfit and accessories when spending a night on the town. We worry about home decor. Yet, when it comes to our health, we sometimes limit our personal input to making an appointment for our symptoms instead of making lasting, meaningful lifestyles changes that address the root cause.
What about our own input? With an integrative health approach, we can actively participate in our own healing through fitness training, healthy eating, and new or alternative strategies. This is where well-trained aromatherapists, herbalists, and integrative fitness experts (among others!) come in handy. We can seek out holistic nutritionists, explore massage therapy for optimal relaxation, or seek out the benefits of aromatherapy for everyday pain.
As an integrative health and wellness professional interested in being part of the healing process, there is no shortage of certifications and degrees to help you make your mark. Popular integrative health and wellness specialties include aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, wellness coaching, integrative fitness training, holistic spa management, and natural products manufacturing, among others.
Integrative health is preventative and cost-effective by default
Because integrative health looks at the whole person, concentrates on individual health via multiple sources—from medical doctors to naturopathic physicians to holistic massage therapists—and emphasizes healing, prevention is an inborn benefit. And, prevention is cost-effective when considering the long-term expenses synonymous with preventable illnesses.
Integrative health is growing and being utilized at hospitals and clinics all over the world. Today, it is possible to earn degrees and certifications in health and wellness disciplines and become part of the healing team, part of the gold standard in comprehensive care.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.