Harlem Word: Dr. Ben Kligler explains Integrative Medicine

Editor April 8th, 2010

Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH, is a family medicine doctor at The Center for Health and Healing and uses the integrative medicine method of treating patients. He explains this treatment method in this article.

Q: What is integrative medicine?

A: Integrative medicine is a different way to think about health and treating patients. It is not a separate specialty. Integrative medicine brings together conventional (or Western biomedical) medicine and other types of healing practices, such as Chinese medicine, massage, chiropractic and herbal medicine. The combination of these types of medicine help people deal with chronic illness or prevent illnesses and stay healthy.

As a physician I am aware that patients are using other healing practices outside of conventional medicine and am glad that they are willing to talk with their physicians about these practices.

Q: How did integrative medicine come about?

A: Integrative medicine became popular in the 1990's. Physicians and the medical profession in general became more aware that millions of people were getting much of their health care from other kinds of health practitioners, such as chiropractors, acupuncturists and herbalists. Before then, physicians had not been as aware of the popularity of these different types of care and soon realized that they had to deal with this fact. They believed that it didn't make sense for patients to go to these other practitioners, but then be afraid to talk to their biomedical doctor about their experiences. It became important for physicians to learn more about these different kinds of care so that we could treat patients from a more holistic viewpoint.

There are many courses in medical schools about integrative medicine and many integrative health centers such as the one here at Continuum Center for Health and Healing. Some physicians within conventional medicine, like myself, make integrative care a part of our normal health practice. This is not to say that all doctors can perform acupuncture or chiropractic work, but the integrative medicine way of treating patients means that a medical doctor can be open to being part of a team that includes different types of treatments.

Read more from Dr. Kligler by clicking the links below:

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