Integrative Medicine –
a Philosophical Viewpoint
Many individuals are not ill enough to be really sick and not well enough to be healthy. They exist in the limbo of the walking wounded: carry on with life as best that they can and chalk it up to the process of getting older and with the attitude that “it is just part of living”. This description is the syndrome of “vertical disease”. Visits to the conventional medical doctor do not give answers to the chronic malaise.
It is the ailment of the upright and moving citizen. Energy is the down, productivity is compromised, and family life is unrewarding. Other symptoms of this disease include: fatigue, weakness, low energy, depression, anxiety, mood swings, aggressive personality changes, headaches, insomnia, unclear thinking, poor concentration, learning difficulties, join stiffness and pain, muscle pain of unknown origin, swelling of feet, hands and face, easy bruising, poor digestion, repeated attacks of “flue-like” illnesses, poor immunity, congestion nasal passages, and “feeling sick all over”.
Modern medicine can fall short on managing these problems. However, Integrative Medicine, a discipline that addresses the illness as well as the disease, which as stated previously is not necessarily the same, can help these individuals.
The discipline of Integrative Medicine opens up potential therapies that have been unavailable to the not well patient. It provides workable “know-how” that answers questions that have gone unanswered. This medicine gives hope that better health can be achieved and maps a route to getting there. When used with good judgement and on an individual basis, reproducible improvements results that are non-placebo and persist over time.
This concept identifies that individuals have unique needs and the impact of the environment will vary in it’s effect from one person to another, which is the idea of biochemical individuality. Integrative Medicine is for real persons, not statistical humans.
The Jaconello Wellness Centre for Integrative and Anti-Aging Medicine recognizes Integrative Medicine and uses the Four Pillars of Healing concept in its approach. These pillars are described in the section titled Our Role in Health Care Delivery.
The following overview of three medical models highlights how modern medicine can fall short in managing health problems. Our four pillar of healing approach…
Four Pillars of Healing concept
Introduction to Current Health Care Delivery
The absence of disease does not mean the presence of wellness. A study, reviewing patients being seen by medical internists, found that 75% of the patients were left without any definable diagnosis for their symptoms – no label, no disease, and no satisfaction for the patient.
The present health care system is ill equipped to handle these individuals, and thus, many are frequently labeled with a psychiatric problem. This diagnosis often leads to the use of antidepressants and mood altering drugs as a “solution”.
The three medicine models below briefly show the history of medicine and some inherent deficiencies. A commentary on modern medicine follows:
1. Biographical Medical Model – This is an ancient model that states that illness is an event in the life of the individual, which results from disharmony or imbalance, and that because each person is unique, each person’s illness is unique. In this model, the job of the physician is to not only to treat the disease, which is merely a part of the illness, but also, to help the person restore harmony and balance
2. Conventional Medical Model – Conventional medicine is built around the disease model of illness. This concept basically says that people become sick because they contract diseases.
These diseases are each distinct clinical entities with their own natural progression and are understood independently of the sick person or in the context in which the illness occurs.
In conventional medicine, the leading question is, “What disease do you have?” The treatments that result are geared to addressing the “disease” and not the illness being experienced by the patient.
Consequently, disease is what the doctor diagnoses; illness is what the patient experiences and often, the two may have little in common.
3. Integrative Medical Model – This model attempts to take conventional medicine and integrate it with the ancient biographical model of illness.
Basically, swapping herbs for drugs is still conventional medicine. The patient has a disease, treatment has been identified, but an herb or a large dose of a nutritional supplement is prescribed instead of a drug.
Finally, modern medicine has advanced and made many discoveries about the origins of disease that were not available in the ancient systems. These advancements and discoveries are of great value especially because they relate to the concept of causative agents such as infections (bacterial, viral and fungal), toxins and allergic triggers of illness.
Ancient systems talked about vague theories of causation such as; “external poeniceous influences”, the influence of the stars and “noxious vapors” coming out of the earth, but the importance of allopathic agents has come from modern scientific study Although modern medicine has made significant advances as described, it falls short in addressing individual health needs. “Vertical Disease” is a product of this failure and is described in the section titled Integrative Medicine.
Our Role in Health Care Delivery
The Jaconello Wellness Centre uses the Four Pillars of Healing concept in its approach. The Pillars of Healing were formulated and eloquently discussed by Dr. Leo Galland, an internist practicing integrative medicine in New York City. His book called “Power Healing” should be read. The Four Pillars of Healing are:
1. Relationships – The first pillar deals with the person’s interaction with others: family, in the workplace, in groups, spiritual and religious beliefs.
2. Diet and Lifestyle – This pillar deals with maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise and recommends the following:
- Intake of a nutrient dense, properly balanced mixture of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats)
- Intake of a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants
- Intake of nutritional supplements designed to give optimal amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and appropriate essential fatty acids as well as other nutrients to support memory and energy
- Regular exercise with a balanced emphasis on aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility
3. The Environment – Included in this pillar are the many factors to which a person can be exposed:
- Allergic and reactive foods
- Infections: bacterial, viral, fungal
- Toxic metals: lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, tin, arsenic etc.
- Toxic foods: such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, too much saturated fat, food additives and colouring agents
- Xenobiotics: such as petrochemicals, pesticides, herbicides
- Fumes from perfumes and molds
- Exposure to pollen, dust mites, molds, animal dander (from the air, carpets, bedding, basements, old musty books etc, etc.)
- Exposure to gastrointestinal toxins generated by the gut flora from alcohol, ammonia, amines, bacterial cell wall debris and other gut metabolic products
4. Detoxification – Enhancing and optimizing the body’s ability to manage increased body burden of toxic metals and xenobiotics, as mentioned above, is important. Detoxification could involve a variety of methods that include:
- Liver detoxification (enzyme driven)
- Gastrointestinal “cleansing”
- Sauna treatment for Xenobiotic detoxification
- Chelation therapy for heavy metal body burden and removal of excessive calcium from atherosclerotic plaque