Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

Reiki Hands by Len Buchanan

Reiki Hands by Len Buchanan

Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative medicine are different from each other:

Complementary Medicine
Complementary Medicine is used together with conventional medicine. An example of Complementary Medicine is the use of Reiki to reduce the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.

As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I use Complementary Medicine. Strangely, HolEssence  just won “The Best Alternative Medicine” in McHenry County. The reason is because there wasn’t a category for Complementary Medicine and the voters chose the closest category that fit.

Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine is used in place of Conventional Medicine. An example of Alternative Medicine is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a conventional doctor.

Integrative Medicine
Integrative Medicine, as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), combines mainstream medical therapies and complementary and alternative therapies for which there is high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.

Client vs. Patient
Here’s where I could potentially stir a hornet’s next. Please remember, this is my opinion—that doesn’t make it right—it simply makes it my opinion.

It is my perspective that the word Patient refers to a person who is passive; they’re looking to someone else to make a diagnosis and decision for them. A patient is a person who’s inclined to give their authority over to a physician and prescribed treatment. Generally speaking, they’re not included in the decision-making process. From my perspective, the term “patient” is demeaning.

Client, on the other hand, is a person who is taking control of their life. They’re actively part of the decision-making process—they’ve done their homework; they’re at the helm. They work with their health professional, and make sure that their input is valued and taken into complete consideration throughout the process. It’s my perspective that the term “client” is a term of respect.

Over the next several posts I’m going to share information about specific energy-based therapies that fall under the umbrella of Energy Medicine.

Have you ever experienced Complementary Medicine?
Have you ever experienced Alternative Medicine?
Have you ever experienced Integrative Medicine?
Which type of medicine do you prefer?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

31 thoughts on “Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine

  1. What a wonderful explanation Laurie! And congratulations on your award!

    I hadn’t thought of the differences between Integrative and Complimentary and Alternative. Seems “alternative” has become a catch phrase for anything not coming out of the medical industry. Ironic, since in many cases, it was the tried and true before medicine was even invented!

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on “patient” vs. “client” as well. I wish we could come up with a third term that would sound even better, since lawyers and Realtors and businesses all have “clients” as well and sometimes they are closer to your definition of “patient” (ie. passive and waiting for the business person to do something “for” them instead of “with” them.)

  2. good morning, Laurie! I am one of those people who walks between both worlds: traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine. I have had Reiki training and am a level 2 Reiki Master (but I don’t practice regularly — no time!). I have used yoga massage for my migraines (which helps immensely . . . the problem is the yoga therapist is about 1 1/2 hours from where I live). Traditional medicine has helped me with some health issues (i.e., cancer), but aside from surgery, what most health practitioners do is provide a therapy that supports the “patient” who pretty much cure themselves. Most of our medications are made from naturally occuring substances. One of the problems I have with traditional medicine is the reliance upon medications instead of lifestyle behaviors and habits. I especially feel sorry for the children being raised on Ritalin and Concerta and are given the belief that if they don’t have these drugs in their lives, then they cannot function. On the other hand, birth control pills have given women a greater amount of freedom over when they will have children. While totally abstaining from sex is the alternative, the reality is that most women will not. So, I could go on and on and on (seeings how I teach women’s health), so for my bottom line: people need not be “patients” — they are “clients” who are ultimately responsible for their health and I prefer holistic health practitioners (M.D. or not) who insist that their clients take care of themselves.

    • Barbara – Thank you for sharing examples of the different types of medicine you’ve experienced., and for mentioning lifestyle behaviors and habits (vital). I heartily agree with your observation that people are “… ultimately responsible for their health …” and “… I prefer holistic health practitioners (M.D. or not) who insist that their clients take care of themselves.” Thank you.

  3. Laurie, I’ve always been a very IMPatient “patient”, that’s because I prefer being a “client” and sharing , if not guiding, the responsability, together with the “health professional”

    • For those of you who don’t know Mike, and may not understand why he said “IMPatient,” he recently posted a blog on Gaia.ning where he said, “It’s Official. I’m an FBI ‘Fully-Blown-Imp. Often IMPossible, Always IMPudent, IMPecibably Imprecise…” Thank you for stopping by, Mike. I appreciate it.

  4. Ah ha!

    all the words and language we use for healing, no one people are confused. Yet healing is still the persons/clients responsibility in all areas of medicine.
    In college for behavioral health and social services, many of the professors used the term clients, at the time was not clear on why, now it makes sense.

    I am sure that in different times in my life I have been involved in all areas of curing/healing. More recently integrative/alternative medicines.

    • “Yet healing is still the person’s/client’s responsibility in all areas of medicine.” Well said, Jeff. For those of you who don’t know, in addition to being a Photographer, Jeff is also a Reiki Master Practitioner.

  5. Hello Hello,
    Okay, first I apologize for this being so long, I must have a lot to say on this subject.

    I wanted to first talk about the last blog on Friday but the day got ahead of me and no time to respond.
    There is a saying and I bet you have heard it, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
    As useful as all the books we read and the medicine we take, I think it comes down to one more very important element, YOU, and you put it perfectly, THE CLIENT.
    I have been on the patient end for a very long time. Not know what else to do I listened and did what I was told. Unquestioned anything told and given to me.
    Questioning authority figures and Doctors are that make no mistake about it, did not come to me until too late.
    I now understand because I read better books, talk to more informed people and read interesting blogs (yours). That not only does one have to ask questions but you had better be doing your homework before you get to a doctors office.
    When talking about healing I think it comes down to what you bring into the appointment;
    your intent, faith, strength of will and TRUST.
    If you are the one healing, then your list looks a bit different; the universal laws apply, like, do no harm, law of return (Karma), personal responsibility and the power of the WORD.
    Now having said all that yes I was fortunate to have a healing. I have been working on my back muscles and bones for awhile and now know that I think my charka’s are out of balance but had no idea someone else could see that, here is my story:
    I meet a massage therapist working at the Salt Lake City Marathon. She was running a massage booth, 10 min for $5.00. I sat down ready for my massage and the next thing I knew she got her partner over to help her with me. He worked on my lower back (where to 5L disc is out of place, and I didn’t tell them!), to unblock my back, shoulder and neck. ( I pulled a few muscles organizing my studio), Well anyway the next thing I know she tells me “She feels a healing coming on gathers the energies around us and lays her hands on my collarbone and neck.” Okay well this took longer then 10 min. and one massage person, and I don’t think this is the normal convention center massage!! I am I Grateful!!! You bet I am, How do I feel? Fabulous!!!
    As a result of this healing I have joined a gym, and the pool and next week yoga. I am scheduled for a Reiki massage this week too!!
    Sorry this was so long,
    Smiling at you,

    • Jean – “It all comes down to one very important element, YOU.” Way to put the bottom line on top — personal responsibility. And I’m so grateful that you shared your healing story with us; thank you.

  6. Hi Laurie & Team,

    I like your definitions. As you say, there is much that ca e argued, and there are many spectra.
    I have often been patient in effect, because my questions have gone unanswered.

    I class myself as a scientist in the full sense of the word. Someone who observes, and asks questions.
    Like everyone, I had to start out with a lot of unquestioned assumptions (one must accept a lot even to learn to speak a language).

    In the 50 some years I have been speaking, I have also done a lot of observing of nature, having spent much of my childhood on farms. Those who think natural is synonymous with safe need to think again. Nature has many strategies, some cooperative, some competitive, some group oriented, some individual oriented.
    Just because something is “natural” does not at all mean it is either safe or friendly. Grizzly bears and wolves are natural, and to either a lone human is simply meat on the move.
    Think how few of the many mushroom species are safe to eat.

    I am as skeptical of mainstream science as I am of most other set of “beliefs”, and the methods of science, if used and reported with integrity (a very big if when money is involved), are exceptionally powerful (and just common sense really).

    Having experienced all of the types of medicine Laurie describes, I definitely prefer Integrative Client focussed medicine.

    I think the Insurance Industry is one of the biggest cons every perpetrated on humanity, at many levels.
    That America has a “health” industry based upon “insurance” is one of the weirdest things I can imagine.

    Raising awareness is crucial to our common future at so many different levels.



    • Ted – I appreciate how you point out, “Just because something is ‘natural’ does not at all mean it is either safe of friendly.” You are oh-so-right. Many people view herbal medicine as ho-hum because they feel it’s not “potent” enough; that because their natural herbs somehow they can’t compete. However, just like prescription medication, if taken incorrectly they can be deadly.

      I agree with your sentiment about “… IF used and reported with integrity.” And that’s a big IF.

      Don’t even get me started on the medical insurance industry. And not only from a client/patient perspective — which I agree is hideous; but from a practitioner’s perspective as well. Physicians pay ginormous rates for malpractice insurance, and Holistic Health Practitioners pay ginormous rates for professional liability insurance. It’s a win/lose/lose/lose situation. The only winners are the insurance companies. The losers are everyone else involved: doctors, holistic health practitioners, and clients/patients.

      “Raising awareness is crucial to our common future at so many different levels.” You hit the nail on the head. Thank you!

  7. How I wish we had more alternative, complimentary and integrative services in our area! It is so discouraging to visit the western medicine physicians in this area who seemingly want to do two things A) prescribe medication or B) do surgery. It is frustrating.

    On the other hand, it has made me more proactive about my own health, knowing in advance what the options will be.

    Could Holessence consider re-locating to the Upper Peninsula?

    also–agreed with your terms “client” vs. “patient”.

    PS Congratulations on your award! That is an honor.

    • “On the other hand, it has made me more proactive about my own health, knowing in advance what the options will be.” Amen, si-STAR! Kathy, what you neglected to say is that you live in the upper, Upper, UPPER Peninsula! Your winters are even harsher than ours. I think I’ll take a pass on relocation at this time …. 🙂

  8. I agree with Kathy, I wish we all lived closer too. I am enjoying everyone’s responses so much and learning from each of you.
    My reading list is getting longer.

    • Jean – I’ve had a Kindle (an eReader) since they first came out. One of the nicest things about it is when I hear about a book I want to read, I simply upload a free sample of it into my reading list so I won’t forget. It’s really handy.

  9. Congratulations on the award Laurie! I know you are beyond categories. ;o)

    I appreciated the distinction between client and patient. That has been a point of contention when I interact with main stream physicians. I see my role as client or partner in the prevention or healing process.

    If I don’t understand or agree with the diagnosis or therapy, then I will provide my input and reserve the right of final decision as to whether or not we proceed. It has taken years if not decades to find Doctors willing to work with me in this way. I have an intuitive healing capacity that works extremely well. Trusting it can be difficult for people who limit their information to what the scientific or pharmaceutical industry supports.

    Typically, I will pursue an alternative treatment first for a situation and most of the time it works just fine. If I have exhausted those avenues, then I will seek out the input of a medical practitioner and often compliment his treatment with some type of complimentary therapy.

    Since every one is wired differently and the standard prescription medications are not always effective or even desired, it takes some patience and testing to roll through the alternatives.

    I am (hopefully) at the tale end of addressing a rash on my upper arms that I have had for 2 years. Western medicine with its antibiotics and creams was marginally effective to ineffective depending on what was used. As it turns out, I went on probiotics to counter reducing the flora of the antibiotics. That is when I began to see results.

    My dermatologist eliminated the antibiotics and kept me on creams. As I boosted the probiotics, added prebiotics, and used Chinese herbs to cleanse the blood, reduce my tendency towards heat, and eliminate the potential for candida, my arms are coming very close to being clear again.

    I appreciate my Doctor who has rolled with me through this and has decided to stick with this process in a learning mode. His treatments have been marginal at best yet he encourages me to continue to test complimentary pathways that seem to be helping.

    I think this is really a shining example of what we can hope for as the best in healing partnership now and even more so in the future provided we can get insurance companies and the AMA to open up even more.

    I appreciate the attention to the client partnership and impressing the importance of being your own advocate in the process.

    Deep Bow!

    • Benit’s so good to see you! Thank you for sharing your story — it sounds like you’ve found an excellent doctor who has “rolled with you” through this and encourages you on the complementary path. Like you, I too hope the future brings more and more of them to the forefront. And I’m so glad you stressed again that we’ve got to be our own advocate. Thank you for stopping by. (Hey, have you started a WordPress blog yet? I know you were thinking about it) …

  10. Laurie I admire how you have taken sorting out these various ways of healing and the language of client and patient.

    My experience has been to seek traditional medicine, reiki, tinctures, herbs, massage, guided imagery. What is sometimes difficult as a client is when a health care practitioner from one model does not understand or respect the work of another area.

    For example, there was a time where I would get a medical referral for a blood test to check my iron levels and request the results so that I could give the information to my natural path. The natural path could not request the blood work but needed to be able to monitor the changes in the iron levels to know if what we were doing was working. The medical doctor was angry that I was seeking the help of a natural path and was less than forthcoming with information. So on top of being seriously ill I had to navigate an alligator pit filled with divisive practitioners. I changed medical Doctors and eventually had to seek medical intervention as we couldn’t achieve the desired results in a timely manner through holistic medicine. What is important to me is that I can get co-operative services from a variety of sources. I am not a very good patient but I am one heck of a good client:)

    • Terrill – When health care professionals from differing models don’t understand or respect the work in another area … it’s time to say “Houston, we have a problem!” I’m glad that you changed physicians. Thank you for sharing your story. I so appreciate your statement, “What is important to me is that I can get co-operative services from a variety of sources.”

  11. Hi Laurie,

    No, I have not started my own blog. I have been writing some poems here and there. I am going through an extreme period at work so my free time is very limited.

    One day hopefully!

  12. Pingback: Have Sex for Better Health « Speaking from the Heart

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