Sharon Ufberg, DC examines integrative healthcare and its different methods of healing patients.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

I have taken some time lately to think expansively about integrative healthcare and what that big label implies to our patients.  A nagging thought has been keeping me awake at night and I believe that it is a topic worth ruminating about a bit more.
Here’s the issue: why are we choosing to mix philosophically different methods of healing when treating our patients? Are not Eastern and Western and indigenous cultural healing practices complex enough without blending these therapeutic modalities? How are our bodies and minds able to respond and understand what we are trying to do?

Often Eastern and Western healing traditions contradict each other. A good example is the classic hot or cold temperature controversy. How does one decide whether to use one practice over another? Which way do we turn and how do we choose which is best for each patient and condition?

The direct versus the indirect approach to healing is another easily available example of this dilemma.  When should one choose the direct Western pharmaceutical protocol versus the indirect Homeopathic constitutional remedy or Chinese herbal compound? How do we decide what is best on any given day? How do we decipher the best blend of therapeutic choices?

My concern is that we may be watering down all of the best options, making them all less effective under the current model of “integrative healthcare.” Taking a small swatch of a variety of fabrics in hopes of creating a beautiful masterpiece sounds lovely for a quilt but does our body work that way? Are we diminishing our capacity for real and clear results by dabbling in so many mixed medias or is our physiology designed to recognize a wide spectrum of therapy options?

The treatment decisions we make every day and the outcomes we witness with our patients lead us to choose and repeat certain patterns of what we believe to be best practice options. Coupled with the latest literature reviews, current evidence based studies and collaboration with colleagues, we attempt to piece together formulas for success that make sense, and are safe and effective. We should all be commended for our diligence is this endeavor. I believe we do act in good faith for the benefit of our patients.

Our current experiences have pointed to a blending of healing methods as the optimal way to treat our patients. Perhaps we will continue to perfect our methods of choosing the right mix. Or, what if the Integrative centers of the future become a place where patient and practitioner chooses the one healing path best suited for that individual or condition?

I know one thing for sure, we have not figured out what the best Integrative healthcare model really is yet or how to determine which path will yield the greatest return. It is essential we keep the dialogue open with one another as we explore all the therapeutic choices in the future.

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