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Why integrated medicine is more than just a passing craze – India Today

Posted: August 15, 2021 at 1:51 am


In a recent interview to India Today, Delhi-based designer Rina Singh, who had suffered from Covid in mid-April, talked about how even weeks into her recovery, she was far from her pre-Covid self. Dealing with erratic sleeping patterns, digestive issues and compromised energy levels, among a host of other problems, she spoke of a need to evolve an everyday living practice that is more holistic. Like fashion, even medicine is a creative pursuit and no one-size-fits-all works in this scenario, she said.

In this lies the draw of integrative or integrated medicine. Dr R.B. Smarta, CMD-interlink and vice-president of Health Foods and Dietary Supplements Association (HADSA) explains: Integrated medicine is a patient-centric approach and not related to only one particular Pathy (allopathy, homeopathy, etc) of medicines. Integrated medicinal approaches can be described as the coordinated and evidence-based way of combining conventional and less conventional medicinal practices to deliver overall care to a patient. Integrated medicine, he adds, covers conventional, complementary and alternative medicines.

There are enough medicines to take care of the symptoms, but theres no system to look at the root cause of an illness and integrative medicine addresses that, says Luke Coutinho, holistic lifestyle coach-integrative and lifestyle medicine, and founder of YouCare by Luke Coutinho. For instance, he says, there are pills to suppress a headache, but headaches keep coming back. The root cause could be anything, ranging from dehydration to constipation, lack of sleep, or emotional stress. So, asks Coutinho, can a pill help when a headache is actually caused by inadequate water intake?

An important question to ask here is, why is it that some of those who test positive for Covid are asymptomatic, while others suffer terribly? Why is it that some heal at home while others need a ventilator and oxygen support?

According to Dr Smarta, The pandemic has focussed tremendous attention on immune health and, consequently, on preventive measures through complementary and integrative approaches. Lockdown-induced lifestyle changes including lack of exercise, sleep disorders, unhealthy eating patterns and several psychological symptoms, including depression, have resulted in the need for such integrated approaches along with conventional medicines. An integrated medicinal approach includes health supplements and nutritional medicines (nutraceuticals and traditional medicines), exercise, nature therapy, botanical medicines and holistic intervention to help people strengthen their physical and mental resilience during and post infection, adds Dr Smarta.

However, it is important to remember that using an integrated approach does not mean skipping conventional practices entirely. Diseases are classified into two parts: low involvement, low risk; and high involvement, high risk. Based on the type of ailment, integrated medicine is employed in the treatment. For example, for minor ailments like mild pain and anxiety, hot flashes, etc, integrated medicines can be employed under a doctors supervision. However, for major illnesses, conventional medicine that has evolved over ages is the first line of treatment. Integrated approaches are employed at the disease prevention and the recovery (rehabilitation) stage, says Dr Smarta.

For Coutinho, its a basic set of questions you need to ask yourself. Do you expect a burnt-out body and mind to really support your immune system? Do you expect a sleep-deprived body to have sufficient energy to drive its complex immune system? Do you expect a body riddled with inflammation and lifestyle ailments to support your immunity the way you expect it to? Do you expect your lungs burdened with smoking and substance abuse to really support you in this crisis? Do you expect a stressed-out mind to have a positive impact on your physical self? Do you expect a sedentary body to be physically fit? Nutrition-performance and nutrition-fitness-meditation would be my mantra through which we can practice an integrated approach to healing and wellness in everyday life. Healthy dietary habits are the key to a disease-free body and healthy mind. Performance nutrition can be described as the extra nutrition required to boost energy levels. In order to multi-task, basic nutrition is not enough. Hence performance nutrition is necessary, says Dr Smarta.

Diet educationist, pharmacist and author Lokendra Tomar agrees: Healing takes place with internal effort; it is not carried out by medicines alone. Anti-infectives and steroids may help, but internal capacity to bolster healing comes with nutrition. Internal structure requires nutrients, metals such as zinc and selenium, vitamin C to repair and heal tissues, protein and minerals. All of these are derived from food and help the body repair and heal damage.

Coutinho sums it up: Medicines with zero focus on lifestyle are a failed approach. One prescription after another with no emphasis on lifestyle change is the reason why the world is stuck in chronic illnesses today. The focus needs to be on building a strong immune system holistically.

Continued here:
Why integrated medicine is more than just a passing craze - India Today

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