What is Integrative Medicine?

Botanical (herbal) Medicine
Mind-Body Medicine

Physical activity
Diet & Nutrition
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Energy Medicine
Manual Medicine

Healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.

The principles of integrative medicine are:

  • Patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
  • All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.
  • Appropriate use of both conventional and alternative methods facilitates the body's innate healing response.
  • Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.
  • Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically.
  • Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms..
  • Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
  • Practitioners of integrative medicine should exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.

The fields of integrative medicine include:

Botanical (herbal ) Medicine

Herbal medicine is one of the most commonly used practices by individuals who are using aspects of complementary and alternative medicine, and again, as supported by the literature, are often not discussing their usage with their physicians. It is therefore essential that health care providers have a broad training in botanical medicine, both so that they can become better informed about this area of treatment, as well as to be better able to understand the controversies that surround its usage. It is very important that patients share their interest in incorporating herbal supplements with their health care provider. Specific herbs can be prescribed to mange the side effects of chemotherapy and to boost the immune system.

Mind-Body Medicine which include guided Imagery and hypnosis.

Guided imagery is mentioned with some frequency in the cancer literature. It has been used successfully for managing symptoms or side-effects. Chemotherapy-induced nausea, anticipatory nausea, and pain have all been reduced successfully in trials of guided imagery. Recent studies also show improvements for depression related to cancer treatment.

Researchers at Mount Sinai in New York found that surgical patients in hypnosis conditions have better outcomes than patients in control groups. A Cochrane review of multiple studies showed hypnosis to be an effective intervention for a group of self-diagnosed migraine sufferers. Roughly 40% of individuals in the midst of treatment with chemotherapy regularly experience nausea and vomiting in anticipation of chemotherapy.. Hypnosis has been found to be effective. Other studies have found that using hypnosis after receiving chemotherapy may be helpful.

Physical activity

There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating the relationship between physical activity and health. This research, much of which dates back only a few decades, has identified the benefits of physical activity. Identified benefits have included improved muscular strength, flexibility and agility, increased bone density, improved lipid profiles, enhanced immune function, and improved insulin levels.

Physical activity has been demonstrated to reduce the risks for a number of chronic conditions, which include: cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety, and fall-related injuries. Obesity is now recognized to be of 'epidemic' proportions. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity 2001 recognizes an estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity.

Diet & Nutrition

Diet has been historically considered a powerful factor in human health. Our beliefs about the specifics of the relationship between food and health are influenced by many factors, some very culturally defined and others driven by scientific evidence. Physicians have long been the advocates of healthful eating. Lack of training in the subject and decreased patient contact time are but two of the many reasons cited. Integrative medicine defines a strong a role for physicians in this area.

Nutrition is utilized for both prevention and management of medical conditions. A comprehensive nutrition assessment should be completed prior to providing recommendations. A comprehensive assessment should also address eating behaviors and review of any previous attempts to change habits. Realistic recommendations are then tailored to the individual to promote positive outcomes.

A referral to a registered dietitian may be necessary for a comprehensive assessment given the time constraints experienced by many physicians. These interventions often require individuals to make small changes over time, thus frequent follow-up to trouble-shoot challenges and provide support, is typically needed to promote success.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine developed within a worldview much different than we perceive in the West. In Chinese Taoist philosophy, from which TCM evolved nearly 4,000 year ago, man is viewed as an essential and integral part of the energetic workings of nature. To be separate from the natural world results in disharmony, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Thus disease, in its myriad forms, is viewed as an expression of how the individual is, to some degree, out of balance with the fundamental laws of nature.

Yin and Yang represent the diametrics within a greater unity, the Tao. In Chinese philosophy it is often stated, "The one creates the two; the two create the three and the three create the ten thousand things." This beautifully succinct phrase means that from the unity of Tao, Yin and Yang are created. From the infinite interactions of Yin and Yang, energy (Qi) is created, and with this energy, the world as we know it comes to fruition.

Treatment is designed to help return the person to a balanced state within this natural energetic flow of life. TCM uses a variety of techniques to stimulate the Qi of the patient's body, thus eliciting a healing response. In therapy, rather than treating the presenting signs and symptoms of a disease, TCM looks at these as guideposts for the underlying causes for their presentation, the imbalance within. Individual signs and symptoms have little meaning in themselves but derive meaning from their participation within the presenting condition.


As human beings, our emotions, goals, hopes, choices and reactions to events... how we live our lives... arise from our values and beliefs about ourselves and the world. As doctors, spirituality (which, among us, goes by many different names) often plays a vital role in what we do, as well as how and why we do it. Deepak Chopra stated that each of us is here to discover our true Self... that essentially we are spiritual beings that have taken manifestation in physical form. We're not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences ~ it's the other way around: we're spiritual beings that have occasional human experiences.

Energy Medicine

Energy based modalities are found in most indigenous cultures world-wide. These practices are ancient in their origins, some of which are documented in oriental and ayurvedic practices dating back 3,000 to 4,000 years. While these may seem foreign to us in Western Medicine, we too use energy to self medicate pain and injuries by holding and rubbing our hands on affected areas with a loving touch.

Energy modalities work with various parts of the energy field, each serving different functions and needs. Some of these include: Acupuncture, Acupressure, Bio Magnetic Touch Healing, Cranial Sacral, distance healing, Healing Touch, intuitive healing, various cultural massages and others.

Training in these modalities varies from intuitive practice, apprenticeship, and weekend workshops, to formal training programs covering multiple levels of instruction over several years and resulting in certification and standards of practice.

Not only does the heading of Energy Medicine cover energy therapies using the hands or needles but includes the vibrational (energy) medicines of homeopathy, pendulums, flower essences, distance healing, power of prayer, sound healing, magnets, the use of gems/stones and more. Some of these fall under Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and integrate well with Western Medicine.

Manual Medicine

In the strictest sense, manual medicine is defined as "the use of hands to diagnose and treat disorders of the somatic system. Most physicians would consider manual medicine for headaches, muscle tension, and neck, back and joint pain, but what about for treatment of fibromyalgia? Sleep disorders? Constipation? Reflux? Speech disorders in children? Improvements in all of these conditions (and more!) are often seen as a result of manual medicine.

Manual medicine also promotes the idea that emotions are stored in the body via the musculoskeletal system. You've probably heard the phrase "the issue is in the tissue" -- it is not uncommon for a patient to have an emotional release while receiving bodywork. It may be a way to get to the emotions if that is what the patient needs.

The Andre Center thanks Sami Diab, MD for providing this information to us. Dr. Diab, a board certified medical ongologist and has completed a two year on-line course in integrative medicine through Dr. Andrew Weil and is in practice with the Aurora Rocky Mountain Cancer Center.

“"Up until my diagnosis, breast cancer had never been a part of my world. Being told that I had breast cancer was both scary and devastating. I had a thousand unanswered questions and had to wait five long days before I was able to meet with a doctor. If an organization such as the Andre' Center had been available to me at the time, it would have made a tremendous difference. Days can seem endless when you are left alone with your thoughts and fears. Without question, Sandra Walters has a mission like no other - to help women between the time of diagnosis and the time of treatment."”

Kate Sumners, Diagnosed at age 38