What Is Integrative Health

Integrative health (also called integrative or complementary medicine) is a comprehensive, holistic approach to health care and wellbeing. According to the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, “the field of integrative health and medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals, and professions to achieve optimal health and healing.”

Integrative health is not the same as alternative medicine, in which non-mainstream health practices are used in place of conventional health care. Rather, integrative health services are used in addition to your current health care. At Integrative Health and Wellbeing at NewYork-Presbyterian, we incorporate integrative health services into our comprehensive medical system to help you meet all of your health needs—physical, emotional, and social.

Health Care Based on Facts

Integrative health approaches are backed up by the findings of medical research. This is called “evidence-based medicine.” In addition, integrative health care is based on these other defining principles of integrative medicine:

  • You and your doctors are partners in your healing.
  • Your care team takes into account all of the factors that may affect your health and wellness, including your mind, body, spirit, and community.
  • Your body heals best when both conventional and non-mainstream methods are used in combination to promote the healing response.
  • Integrative health encourages the use of natural, less invasive approaches.
  • Integrative health physicians do not reject conventional medicine, nor accept alternative therapies without critically evaluating the evidence supporting their use.
  • In addition to treating your discomfort or illness, your care team understands that promoting health and preventing disease are paramount goals.
  • Practitioners of integrative medicine also live by its principles and continually explore and develop themselves.

Integrative Health Approaches

There are many types of integrative healthcare services, and they are not one-size-fits-all. The key is to learn what your personal health needs are and to find the service or services that are best for you and address your individual symptoms. Examples include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Guided imagery
  • Herbal therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Qigong
  • Reiki/healing touch
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga

Who Can Benefit from Integrative Health? Everyone!

Whether you could use some deep breathing exercises to get you through a busy work day or acupuncture to help relieve chronic back pain, integrative health has something for everyone. Studies have shown that integrative health practices can help people recovering from short-term discomfort such as pain after surgery to those living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, depression and anxiety, autoimmune diseases, and digestive complaints. We all have something in our lives that could be improved by integrative health approaches.

A National Commitment

Integrative health care is continuing to gain traction as science supports its benefits and more people experience the improved wellbeing and quality of life it affords. The U.S. National Institutes of Health created the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health “to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.” For more information about integrative health care, visit nccih.nih.gov.

Contact

Integrative Health and Wellbeing at NewYork-Presbyterian

211 East 80th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10075
Phone: 646-962-8690