Integrative Medicine as promoted by the Osher Collaborative for Integrative 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.
- Applies rigorous scientific research methods to evaluate physiological and therapeutic mechanisms, efficacy, and use of approaches in society as they affect health, resiliency, and well-being.
- Educates practitioners, public, and policy to appreciate and address the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect health.
Integrative medicine is both a philosophy of how healthcare can be most effective and a practice that expands our "tool-box" of therapeutic options. It incorporates safe and effective complementary health approaches with conventional medicine. The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health groups these approaches into three major categories:
Complementary Approaches and Disciplines (see our Resource List for additional information)
Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet such as herbs (botanicals), vitamins and minerals and other dietary supplements such as probiotics.
Mind and Body Practices:
In addition to relaxation practices such as mindfulness meditation and guided imagery this category encompasses a broad range of disciplines including bodywork (massage), chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation; energy medicine practices such qi gong, Healing Touch and Reiki, movement therapies; and acupuncture.
Whole Healing Traditions:
For example: traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy.
In addition, integrative medicine emphasizes the importance of addressing lifestyle factors, including nutrition and physical activity, restoration through sleep and stress coping, social and spiritual connections, and environmental factors.
According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans use some form of complementary and integrative medicine to treat common health concerns such as pain, anxiety or depression, gastrointestinal disorders, and sleeping problems. Increasing numbers of patients are seeking integrative medicine as a means of achieving optimal health and wellness.
Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine
The clinical program of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine was founded in 1997, and is the most trusted resource in the region for provision of safe and effective integrative care. The Osher Center was highlighted in a national publication as one of the top clinical programs in the United States. An accomplished team of experts in integrative medicine and complementary practices of integrative medicine are available for patient care at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine’s clinical site.
To learn more about integrative medicine and complementary health practices, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus site.
*Definition developed and adopted by the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine in 2017.
The Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine comprises an international group of six academic Centers funded by The Bernard Osher Foundation to study, teach, and practice integrative medicine.
- Harvard University
- Karolinska Institutet
- Northwestern University
- University of California, San Francisco
- University of Miami
- Vanderbilt University
The six programs possess both unique and shared strengths in the areas of research, education, and clinical care. The Osher Collaborative advances the field of integrative medicine through the sharing of knowledge, resources, and best practices.
Northwestern's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine is also proud to be a member of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, an international organization of over 70 esteemed institutions devoted to the advancement of integrative medicine and health through academic institutions and health systems.