Pediatric Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine is classically defined as ‘relationship-centered care that focuses on the whole person, making use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing, including evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine.’

Based on this definition there are four major principals that an integrative practitioner must adhere to:

1-     Use the innate healing power of the body to support and facilitate that natural capacity.

2-      View and treat patient as a whole physical/emotional/mental and spiritual member of a community and society.  This self-healing power of the body decreases with aging and is at its peak during childhood and adolescence.

3-     Implement necessary lifestyle changes.  Lifestyle changes are a cornerstone of this model, since the state of our health is the result of interactions between genes and our environment.    Diet, physical activity, stress, sleep, rest, fulfilling relationships, work and school etc. are examples of aspects of lifestyle that are addressed during development of treatment plans.

4-     Fully utilize the critical healing power of doctor patient/parents relationship.   The importance of the healing relationship between a physician and the patient is a well-known fact which, due to managed care environment, has taken a back seat in the current western way of therapy.

In other words, pediatric integrative medicine is a healing-oriented medicine that focuses on the ‘whole’ individual (body-mind-spirit) as well as all aspects of lifestyle, making use of appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.  Based on this model the physician takes the time to listen and understand the parents’ ideas and choices and incorporates their feedback into the treatment plan.

The typical western medicine model of symptomatic treatment of patients is redirected toward preventive care so that symptoms have less of a chance to develop in the first place. The common and overuse of medications especially antibiotics are replaced with prudent use of medications complemented with nutritional therapies, herbs and supplements.

The field of integrative medicine is rapidly developing and growing, and it is exciting for us pediatricians to be at the forefront of this new field.   The limitations posed by the current western model of medicine and the ensuing frustrations have encouraged us to look at the human health and illness from a different and more comprehensive perspective.  The consumers, too, are demanding a more comprehensive approach to their children’s health.  They want to know why more and more of their children are developing asthma and allergies.  They are demanding to know why the incidence of ADHD and autism is so high.  They want to know why so many unnecessary antibiotics are being prescribed to their children.

Current medicine model as a whole and pediatric medicine in particular is at crossroads and needs reinvention.  Integrative medicine model is at the forefront of building such an alternative model by creating a more holistic, patient specific, least invasive approach with the focus on preventive care.

This model, besides conventional medicine, integrates and utilized multiple different healing modalities from a cross section of therapeutic models some of which may include:

1-     Acupuncture

2-     Aromatherapy

3-     Environmental and body detoxification

4-     Exercise medicine

5-     Functional medicine

6-     Herbal and supplements

7-     Homeopathy

8-     Massage and Chiropractic therapies

9-     Mind-body medicine

10-  Naturopathic medicine

11-  Nutritional and diet therapy

12-  Osteopathic Medicine

Pediatric integrative medicine can address or complement the treatment of many medical conditions that are not adequately addressed by the conventional model such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne
  • ADD / ADHD
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Behavioral and mental disorders
  • Cancer
  • Celiac disease
  • Colic
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive issues
  • Eczema
  • Ear infections
  • Food allergies
  • Gluten sensitivities
  • Headache
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Infections
  • Leaky gut
  • Mood dis-regulation
  • Preventive care
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress induced disorders
  • Thyroid disorders

 

The integrative medicine is still evolving and promises to usher a new healthcare model that is focused on delivering comprehensive, customized and most efficient and cost effective means of healing to our patients.  This model seeks not only to treat ailments but to create health and sense of wellbeing. An integrative pediatrician will be best suited to lead the way in this health revolution.

 

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