What is Integrative Medicine?

The best of conventional and complementary medicine informed by scientific knowledge.

The field of integrative health and medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and professions to achieve optimal health and healing. Simply put, integrative health and medicine offer best practices for optimal health and healing.

Nordic Integrative Medicine (NIM)
emphasizes integrated patient care that empowers the patient by addressing the biophysical, emotional, mental, social, existential and environmental influences that affect a person’s health and coordinates care with the selected support of a collaborative team of integrative practitioners who develop a personalized health plan, which supports the renewal of health and prevention of disease.


Integrative Health, Complementary or Alternative: What’s In a Name?

When describing these approaches, people often use “alternative” and “complementary” interchangeably, but the two terms refer to different concepts:

  • If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.” 
  • If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”

The term, “integrative health” is used when discussing the incorporation of complementary approaches into conventional, mainstream health care. 

There are many definitions of “integrative” medicine and health care, but all involve bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a collaborative and coordinated way.

Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors for the prevention of disease.

The Integrative Medicine Movement

In the US, Australasia and a few countries in Europe, Integrative Medicine (IM) has become a paradigm shift in the way that primary medical doctors deliver healthcare to patients. IM offers patients more time for consultations, a self-empowered partnership with their healthcare practitioners, and a wider range of scientific evidence based treatments that are complementary to conventional medicine. Currently, there is an IM Consortium of over 50 academic health centers for integrative medicine established in association with academic hospitals in North America and three major IM centers associated with an annual European Congress of Integrative Medicine in Europe; CHAMP at Charité University of Berlin, University Of Zurich Institute of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Zurich Hospital, Children’s Clinic for Integrative Medicine at Slotervaart Hospital Amsterdam, and  the Royal London Hospital of Integrated Medicine.