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Integrative Health practices are activities, behaviors, and prescriptions that treat the "whole person" (bio-psycho-socio-spiritual dimensions) rather than simply treating acute injuries and disease. Integrative medicine focuses on wellness and health; optimum quality of life. Integrative medicine emphasizes prevention of disease as a primary goal, drawing on both conventional and complementary or alternative medical approaches in the context of a supportive and effective physician-patient relationship. Practitioners of integrative medicine are not limited to medical doctors, but include psychologists, counselors, support groups, natureopathy, exercise leaders, massage therapists, nutritionists, tai chi and qigong practitioners, general fitness trainers, life coaches, yoga instructors, reiki practitioners, acupuncurists, chiropractors and many other professional health providers, some whom who don't fall under the state medical licensing laws. Rather than separate the health care of a patient into "medical" and "alternative", integrative health providers understand that they are part of a team, and that the more integrated they are in working together, the more benefits the patient experiences.
Integrative health is strongly supported by many of the top medical networks and teaching hospitals such as Mayo Clinic , Harvard Medical School, Vanderbilt Medical School, and many more. These teaching hospitals pay close attention to health research. They prefer treatments and modalities that are supported by evidence-based clinical trials. However, they also understand the limitations of clinical trials. Often, western medical research has an over-emphasis on treatments that are easy to test (like drugs), and that provide a financial return-on-investment under the current medical system.
Integrative health practitioners understand the underlying difficulties inherent in trying to provide evidence for effective preventative health solutions to common problems. For one thing, effective preventative health solutions often require long term lifestyle changes that are difficult to prove definitively. Behaviors don't lend themselves easily to double-blind random trials, and are much more expensive to clinically test. For another, many effective preventative health solutions don't cost anything (such as eating right and exercising regularly). That means that there are no financial incentives for such research, unlike drug or medical device research which can return billions of dollars to the investors of the treatment providers. When an inexpensive treatment is found to be more effective than drugs or surgery, it tends to be ignored by the medical community or, even worse, downplayed as ineffective. Patients are not given the education and support they need to cure the disease.
For example, even when a well-designed clinical study demonstrates a drastic change in diet can completely eliminate type II diabetes in the majority of people, it is difficult for physicians to convince their patients that a lifestyle change would work, and the system doesn't support it. Physicians could be sued for malpractice if they suggest a change in diet or an increase in insulin-moderating foods in place of drugs to treat diabetes. Many previously-relied-upon diagnostic procedures such as annual mammograms and cancer screenings are being revisited because they cause overdiagnosis and overtreatment for health problems that might easily resolve themselves with proper diet and exercise.
Even physicians who believe in treating the whole person are caught between a rock and a hard place within the existing medical system, because they are not given enough time to fully diagnose and treat the patients, and not given enough support to fully educate the patient on all the options.
One of HPL 501c3 Institute's goals is to provide the type of information necessary for people to avoid "quackery", which we define as any treatment or course of action prescribed more for the financial benefit to the provider than the long-term health of the patient, and to encourage more widespread use of integrative medicine. While quackery includes some unproven alternative medicine treatments, it also includes some generally accepted standards of medical practice. Recent research has revealed that many of today's physicians have been taught standards of care that lead to unnecessary surgery and over-prescribed drugs. The disadvantages to the patient of many of these treatments are de-emphasized, while the high cost is hidden in the third-party-payment system of health insurance. Rather than supporting and improving the health of the patient, modern medical systems often provide financial incentives to ignore underlying causes. The "medical machine" provides more and more diagnostic procedures and expensive treatments to patients, while completely ignoring preventative activities and prescriptions that would identify and eliminate the underlying causes of illnesses.
More medicine, but less care.
Despite the medical evidence and strong support, there are still many physicians who are unaware of the shift in thinking, who do not encourage their patients to eat right, avoid environmental toxins, practice mind-body health practices, and exercise every day. There are still physicians who don't understand the overwhelming influence that stress and unhealthful habits have on people's health. Or, they do understand it but are at a loss as to how to get their patients to change their unhealthy habits.
HPL Institute's goal is to educate and support those physicians and nurses, those who wish to treat the whole person, not just the broken part. We wish to provide the medical community with a safe and effective pathway to proven evidence-based integrative practices such as tai chi, qigong, pilates, yoga, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, and supportive exercise.
HPL Institute plans include a world-wide database of certified integrative health practitioners and support groups so that physicians can safely prescribe integrative health practices and supportive environments for their patients, We also hope to provide a portal for people to find workshops, classes, and groups that will help them on their own road to optimal health. We hope to establish a way for physicians and integrative health practitioners to coordinate and synergize their activies. We hope for a way to get insurance companies to focus on wellness and prevention rather than illness and treatment. In order to do that, we must change the current system which says that the financial benefits of prevention accrue to a different entity than the payers of the prevention services, which is the largest obstacle to a focus on prevention.
Health does not happen in a doctor's office. Health happens every day, and the choices we make on a daily basis determine whether we get and stay healthy, or allow ourselves to stay or get sick.
You can read more about integrative health in some of these articles:
If you want to look at the history of our founder, CJ Rhoads, and why she has such a focus on integrative medicine, click here.
If you, too, are interested in getting and remaining healthy, or finding out more about Integrative Health Practices, then get on our list so that you can stay in the loop. and benefit from these tools when we are able to make them available to the public.