What is integrative medicine?

Integrative Medicine is also known as Functional Medicine or Anti-Aging Medicine. This is a relatively new field in South Africa but has been around for more than 20 years in countries like the USA.

Integrative Medicine is a medical speciality and field of scientific research aimed at the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related decline and disease. It is well documented by peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals and employs evidence-based methods to treat patients.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine was established in 1997 as a professional physician certification and review board, which offers physician recognition in the form of speciality-based examination in Anti-Aging Medicine. This is the newest and fastest growing medical speciality in the world which represents over 20,000 physicians, scientists, and other health professionals from 80 countries worldwide.

Integrative Medicine also aims to optimize the body's internal mechanisms of self-repair and adds proven and near future exogenous treatments and technologies to heal and maintain the body. Integrative Medicine is a comprehensive, science-based healthcare approach that treats illness and promotes wellness by focusing on the unique aspects of each patient, and then individually tailoring interventions to restore physiological, psychological, and structural balance.

Integrative Medicine also focuses on understanding the fundamental physiological processes, the environmental inputs, and the genetic predispositions of each patient that influence health and disease so that interventions are focused on treating the cause of the problem, not just masking the symptoms.

Integrative Medicine is an art & science based on health promotion & "wellness" – a natural approach to patients, regarding them not as disease or problems, but as individual people needing assistance in balancing their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions. When balanced or in harmony, this will reflect health, fitness, wholeness and total wellbeing.

The 7 fundamental principles underlying functional medicine include:

  1. Evidence-based medicine that connects the research base to clinical practice.
  2. Biochemical individuality based on genetic and environmental uniqueness.
  3. Patient-centered care rather than disease-focused treatment ("Treating the origin of the problem as opposed to the symptom")
  4. Dynamic balance of internal and external factors that affect total functioning.
  5. Understanding the interconnections between the body's physiological processes that affect every aspect of functionality. (Treating the body as a whole as opposed to individualized organs/systems)
  6. Ensuring health as a positive state of vitality, not just the absence of disease.
  7. Preserving optimal organ functioning.