Integrative Health Resources

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Integrative Healthcare is the practice that emphasizes the importance of collabortive healing partnerships between practioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, and makes use of evidenced-based therapeutic approaches from many healthcare profesionals to achieve optimal health and healing. Access to quality primary care and preventative healthcare services remain the central health promotion and disease prevention components of the American health care system. Increasing awareness and access to preventative health care is the goal for lifelong growth and learning. Education is key, and much of it will be done outside the parameters of primary care medicine by wellness coaches, holistic healers, and other mind-body practitioners. Integrative Health Resources attemps to define, clarify and categorize these new sources of health information in an industry that has been largely driven by the consumer. What is the new medicine? We find descriptors such as Holistic, Humanistic, Altenative, Complementary, Integrative, and Mind-Body used to differentiate this new perspective from the old paradigm. The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM),[1]conducts and supports research, trains CAM researchers, and provides information about CAM. The role of the health educator at the community level becomes increasingly important to help distinguish facts from fiction, and to locate credible community health resources.

Health represents the overall condition of the body-mind complex and therefore a by-product of the sum of our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, actions, environment and genetic blueprints. As such, it is largely determined by individual choice. Health emerges from the attitudes and lifestyles of individuals and groups of people and includes many dimensions such as physical, intellectual, spritual, financial, emotional, social, sexual, environmental, and cultural health.

Disease can be conventionally catagorized and defined. CAM providers often use the term dis-ease to describe this orientation to the broader sphere of health, suggesting an imbalance in the body's abiliy to optimally function. Illness, or the way the individual lives with or perceives disease, varies for each person. The healing process also varies for each individual. The healing concept is far less understood than the pathophysiology of disease, and is open to many levels of interpretation. Healing differs from curing a disease, in that healing comes from within. Healing may arise from a an interaction or insight that promotes a change in acceptance of the current situation to a measurable improvement in one or more aspects of health. Insights such as increased awareness of self and others and adjustments to long held beliefs are often part of the healing process. The healing process can be an opportunity to grow in ways previously undefined by that individual or group. In various ways, healing will enhance the quality of life.

Illness and disease are phenomena, that when examined in depth, provoke questions that go beyond medicine to the essence of the human condition in this modern world. The healing process may encourage exploration of the larger questions concerning human suffering, compassion and tolerance for the other. Cultivating a trusting healing partnership to support this process of growth and transformation creates that space for integration of deeper knowing. Integrative Healthcare gives new meaning to the art of healing.