The Power of Integrative Medicine

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Dr. Andrew Weil takes a different approach to medicine. (Photo: Getty)

Dr. Andrew Weil is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine. At a recent talk in Chicago, he opened by saying: “The bad news is that the future of health care in America is dismal, the good news is that Integrative Medicine can save us.” Dr. Weil and the University of Arizona teach both physicians and patients a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. Dr. Weil and the Team at Northwestern Osher Center are pioneers in this movement to change the state of our nation’s health care needs.

The current health care system is a disease management system that over-prescribes drugs and utilizes many unnecessary procedures. Dr. Weil believes that treatments do not need to be dependent on expensive technology and drugs. In the 1940’s and 1950”s drug use was 10% of what it is now. Dr. Weil believes that chronic conditions can heal with dietary and lifestyle changes rather than prescription medications. As Hypocrite’s said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Weil went on to share that we need to engage the private sector and have big corporations partner with government to gather basic data to show that alternative approaches of treatment lower health care costs and show better employee health outcomes.

The Integrative Medicine approach treats the whole person and actively involves patients to make lifestyle changes for better health. Here in Chicago, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine blends conventional medicine with complementary and integrative disciplines such as acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, and other mind-body disciplines. These therapies help patients get to optimum health and prevent chronic conditions. The Osher Center’s mission focuses on providing innovative care options, conducting research on integrative care approaches, and educates the community it supports. The center also focuses on teaching the general medical community and health care providers about integrative medicine to promote health and wellness of patients.

Melinda Ring, MD, Karen Malkin, co-chair of Eating Psychology, Andrew Weil, MD, Paul Heiselmann of corporate giving, Tara DeMarco, PhD. (Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil)

Dr. Melinda Ring, Medical Director at the Osher Center believes in treating the whole patient, and empowering patients to take an active role in their health. Doctors should also be loving and compassionate. This type of energy can transform people and free them from suffering alone. Through working in the integrative model Dr. Ring said that patients move from just wishing and wanting, to being a willing participant in their treatment plan to get healthier and reach personal wellness goals.

Integrative Medicine has been called the “new medicine” but in many ways, it is a return to the original practice and philosophy of medicine. It emphasizes the relationship between the doctor and patient, the innate healing ability of the body and the importance of addressing all aspects of an individual’s life to attain optimal health and healing.

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