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 What is Integrated Medicine?  
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Dr. Galland's Integrated Medicine by . View all columns in series
Integrated Medicine is a new way of understanding health and sickness. It embraces the best of conventional and alternative therapies, but is more than just a mixture of therapeutic techniques. To integrate is to make whole, and the distinctive feature of Integrated Medicine is its application of science to prevent or treat disease by healing the person who is sick, rather than just treating the disease. A person has social relationships, beliefs and feelings, memories and expectations, a sense of identity, a daily pattern of eating and drinking, of rest and exercise (the ancient Greeks called this diaita--the precursor to our word "diet"), personal habits, an occupation, an environment, and innate systems for detoxification and repair. It is these aspects of the person that Integrated Medicine attempts to support, applying strategies that are scientifically validated.

This column will be devoted to information that enables you to learn how to heal yourself, preventing or reversing chronic illness with the techniques of Integrated Medicine. Some of the information will be adapted from my new book, THE FOUR PILLARS OF HEALING, published by Random House in June, 1997. Some of the information will come from an analysis of recent developments in medical research. And some of it will come as a response to your questions.

Conventional Medicine
Conventional Western medicine is organized around the Theory of Diseases, which believes that a person becomes sick because he or she contracts a disease. In this model, each disease is seen as an independent entity which can be fully understood without regard to the person it afflicts or the environment in which it occurs. Conventional treatments are treatments of diseases, not of people. Most of the drugs employed in conventional medicine are designed to act as chemical strait jackets, preventing the cells of the body from performing some function that has become hyperactive. The side effects of these drugs are a direct extension of their actions and may be fatal. A Harvard research team concluded that 180,000 Americans are killed in hospitals by their doctors every year. Most of these deaths occur because doctors prescribe drugs without paying attention to the special characteristics of the person for whom the drugs are prescribed.

Alternative Medical Systems, Ancient and Modern
Alternative systems of healing supply a perspective that can help to reverse the "one size fits all" philosophy of conventional medical practice. All alternative systems of healing, ancient or modern, share one common characteristic which separates them from conventional Western medicine. They all approach sickness as a dynamic event in the life of an individual, a problem of balance and relationship, the result of disharmony between the sick person and his or her environment. This approach to understanding illness is called biographical. In the biographical concept of illness, the "disease" itself has no independent reality. The healer's job is not to identify and treat the disease entity, but to characterize the disharmony of each particular case, so that they can be corrected. These disharmonies are described differently in different cultures. The language which describes them may be magical or naturalistic, but the diagnostic and therapeutic focus is always on the person who is ill and the context in which the illness occurs, rather than on the disease itself.

Integrated Medicine perceives illness biographically and at the same time uses the powerful database of modern biological and behavioral science to help describe the varied disharmonies which undermine the health of each individual. These disturbances originate, almost entirely, with dietary, environmental or social conditions. Although the media are full of stories about "cancer genes", for example, the scientific evidence is that greater than 90% of cancers are environmentally induced. When identical twins are reared in separate environments, the rate at which each twin develops cancer is comparable to the cancer rate in the adoptive family, not the biological family. The publicity accorded to "cancer genes" serves to cripple individual initiatives at cancer prevention and to displace scrutiny from cancer's environmental and dietary triggers. Integrated Medicine exists to empower you to improve your health by improving your four pillars of healing: interpersonal relationships, diaita, environment, and your innate system of detoxification and repair.

1. Leape LL. Error in medicine. Journal of the American medical Association. 1994; vol 272: pp 1851-1857.


Dr. Galland is the author of Power Healing: How The New Integrated Medicine Can Cure You (Random House, 1997).
      
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 About The Author
Leo Galland, M.D. has received international recognition as a leader in the field of Nutritional Medicine for the past 20 years. A board-certified internist, Dr. Galland is a Fellow of the......moreLeo Galland MD, FACN
 
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