By Dr. Melinda Cooksey ~
Integrative Medicine? Functional Medicine? Complementary? Alternative? The buzzwords have changed a lot over the past many decades and public interest has forced academic and western medical attention to this field. It was in the late 1990’s that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the original framework to address the growing conversation and implement a funding paradigm for research. NIH started with 4 primary domains of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) placed around a central health system of allopathy, or western medicine.
A strong support network is the foundation of well-rounded, grounded, good health. We all long for inspiring confidants, creative professionals, and trusted friends for support on our health and wellness journeys. The current culture of our health care system often leaves taking what get instead of creating the support we deserve.
The experiences of 20+ years in private practice and the opening of 3 integrative health centers led to an expanded model that also draws attention to the importance of knowledge and awareness of our belief system in our health and wellness. Integrative Medicine, most simply is a conscious effort toward distributing wellness efforts in a balanced way across all six domains: Beliefs, Biology, Mechanics, Mind-Body, Energy and Knowledge.
It is often true that we tend to ‘cluster’ our care into a few select domains while nearly or completely neglecting others. Working within this 6-domain model allows for the balancing of resources (time, finances, energy, etc.) while still providing comprehensive support and an honest framework for addressing concerns and goals in a balanced, sustainable way.
What do you believe in? What are your beliefs around health, spirituality, finances, emotions and relationships? What we believe and our connection to our beliefs can have a tremendous impact on our health and treatment outcomes. There are various health systems around the world – Allopathy, Ayurveda, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine all have very different views about the origins of health and disease. Western medicine (or Allopathy) is the primary medical system we operate within and our insurance payment systems are organized around. Western Allopathy is a health philosophy based upon a symptom-response method for assessment and treatment.
What are you doing that directly impacts your biological functioning? This domain includes our diet choices, supplementation, pharmaceuticals, environmental factors, sleep and exercise.
Is your human form mechanically sound, adaptable and with structural integrity? This domain includes therapies that work directly with structural body mechanics to influence change. Posture, neuromuscular activation, musculoskeletal balance, connective tissue integrity and structure-function efficiency are the primary focus of these therapies. This domain is working tangibly with bones, muscles, connective tissues and fasciae.
Mind / Body
Therapies in this domain are geared toward bridging the space between our mental and physical experiences. These somatic techniques train the body to inspire the mind and teach the mind to positively shape the body. The term ‘somatic’ means ‘experiencing the body from within.’ Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning. Our bodies can become tools for working with our mental state and our mental patterns can become vehicles of change for our physical bodies.
This domain focuses on the energy fields in and around the body (biofields). It also encompasses the use of external energy sources (electromagnetic fields) to influence health and healing. All energy therapies are based on a universal life force or subtle energy that resides in and around the body. This domain includes therapies that work these energetic fields including aspects of electromagnetism, light, auras, chakras, meridians, intuition and mediumship.
How much do you know about your health? Do you get regular physicals, eye exams and dental exams? Do you understand any diagnoses you may have? Do you understand the medications and supplements you take? Do you have easy access to your medical records and images? This domain is about taking the central position in your health care and assuming responsibility for your wellbeing. Actions related to this domain can include getting regular health screenings, asking questions of health care providers, reading, learning, attending classes and workshops, seeking support and using effective methods for organizing your health records.