INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE

In the United States, a movement is currently starting to grow, and it is called "integrative medicine". This is a medicine focused on healing the different com- ponents of human beings (physical, emotional, psychological and energetic). It focuses on individuals as a whole, including all aspects of their lives. Several therapeutic approaches are offered in the same health center, including modern medicine, acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, massage therapy, naturopathy and psychology.

Integrative medicine aims at treating not only physical symptoms, but also the emotional and energetic components of body disorders. To this end, physicians and therapists need to demonstrate an openness towards approaches other than their own, in order to provide patients with a better understanding of their symptoms and facilitate their resolution.

In Quebec, a real implementation of integrative medicine would require a reduction in the gap between each profession to offer the best services possible. This means the current medical ego would benefit from deflating and losing some of its rigidity in order to integrate other approaches, inculding acupuncture, which can be just as efficient in treating several pathologies and which addresses symptoms with a global focus.

In the United States, in some cities, integrative medicine is also starting to grow in hospitals. Acupuncture and other approaches are very active elements in the care of patients, just like modern medicine.

In France, the Assistance publique de Paris (committees of the Paris public hospitals) decided to introduce approximately 20 complementary approaches in its hospitals, including one third in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

"It is truly a great openess towards a medicine that is completely different, totally empirical, but which has proved itself. The goal is not to replace our treatments wiht other treatments, but to complement them1."

                                                         Dr. Catherine Viens-Biker

Quebec is seriously lagging behind in this regard, since at this point, our hospitals offer mainly medical services, except for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, inhalation therapy, psychology and social work services2.

It would be advisable that measures be taken, by the government as well as by medical authorities, to offer integrated care services in hospitals. This is an important key which would help offer optimal care to the population and perhaps promote a certain relief in the congestion of emergency rooms.

By going deeper into the treatment of physical symptoms, integrative medicine reduces the risk of recurrence of these symptoms, and thus promotes better pre- vention of illness. Currently, if emergency rooms are congested, it is because too many people waited for their physical symptoms to worsen before consulting with a physician. But if these people had better knowledge of the emotional et energetic components of illness, which acupuncture can teach, it could reduce over-crowding.

In othe words, the implementation of integrative medicine in clinics and hospitals would promote an in-depth treatment of physical symptoms and better education of people so that they are more autonomous towards their own health. The Quebec healthcare system would benefit going in this direction, for the well-being of the community as well as to reduce its operating costs.

Martin Moisan, M.D. 
Kanesatake Health Center
12 Joseph Swan
Kanesatake (Québec)
J0N 1E0

1. According to the French video La médecine chinoise dans les hôpitaux ("Chinese Medicine in Hospitals") http://youtu.be/W8d2hGmmBmM

2. The only exceptions known by the author are the LaSalle Hospital, where acupuncture is used in obstetrics, and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, where Dr. Christian Boukaram has implemented an integrative approach in oncology. A similar approach also exists at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, in the Oncology Department.

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