Integrative Medicine Goes Mainstream

Integrative Medicine Goes Mainstream

Today, more physicians are offering treatments to patients that complement traditional medicine. It's integrative medicine, and consumer demand is growing.

Why?

"Patients appreciate a holistic approach," says Polina Karmazin, MD, director of Virtua’s Center for Integrative Medicine. "We treat the person, not just the disease. Integrative medicine looks at how a set of symptoms affect the whole person: mind, body and spirit."

Complementary medicine treatments include acupuncture, homeopathy, biopuncture, hypnosis, relaxation therapy, massage therapy, etc., but most practitioners specialize in only one or two therapies. Dr. Karmazin specializes in acupuncture, homeopathy and biopuncture.

The common thread is they are natural and non-invasive. Dr. Karmazin emphasizes the safety and effectiveness of complementary therapies: "A guiding principle is that we only use those which have high-quality evidence to support them."

How does it work?

Stress reduction and healing benefits of relaxation therapy are easily understood, but some complementary therapies like acupuncture, are less obvious. While integrative medicine specialists use complementary treatments in conjunction with traditional therapies, over time the need for certain medications may be reduced.

That was the case for Joann Orr, who found relief for a host of medical conditions with the help of complementary therapies. Before turning to integrative medicine, she struggled for years with an injury that included nerve damage. Desperate for better health and pain relief, she began acupuncture treatments with Dr. Karmazin. "In less than a year, I was completely off pain medication," she says.

Orr also used homeopathic remedies. Not to be confused with herbal medicine, homeopathy uses small amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body's own disease-fighting responses and make them more effective. Homeopathy views the individual as a whole; symptoms and signs from the body, mind, and spirit are all regarded when choosing a medicine or treatment. 

Updated July 18, 2016

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