beyond acupuncture: what is integrative medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine education has expanded to Integrative Medicine due to the responsibility granted by some states (California included) for Licensed Acupuncturists to hold Primary Care Provider status. Integrative Medicine studies include equal parts Eastern and Western Biomedicine. In addition to understanding traditional Chinese medicine theory there is an understanding of what is going on through a biomedicine lends. Beyond the scientific background Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) education involves studies in TCM herbology, acupuncture and Tuina (structural bodywork similar to massage).

Many don’t know this but a trained and licensed acupuncturist in California can order and read lab work to determine what is going on inside one’s body. Integrative medicine can then decipher is western intervention would behoove the patient or perhaps supporting through natural therapies. The biomedical understanding within integrative medicine includes pharmaceuticals, common side effects and how to support a body on medications.

In China, hospitals delegate patients to the Western wing or the TCM wing when seeking treatment. They utilize both pharmaceuticals and traditional herbs and separate patients according to which treatment style would best suit the patient’s needs. Integrative medicine approaches each case with this in mind. Looking for biomedical red flags and recognizing when a patient would benefit from an appointment with a western MD, or perhaps a natural treatment plan is the beauty of integrative medicine’s ability to restore balance from multiple paths.


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