What is Integrative and Alternative Medicine?

Most people have heard the terms “complementary medicine,” “alternative medicine,” and “integrative medicine.” What do they all mean? For one, “complementary medicine” and “integrative medicine” are different ways to refer to the same thing. These terms refer to medicine outside of the mainstream, or Western, medicine. Integrative medicine works together with traditional medicine. On the other hand, “alternative medicine” uses an approach that is non-mainstream and in place of conventional medicine.

Alternative Medicine

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that alternative medicine is a diverse group of health care and medical systems, practices and products that are not usually used in conventional medicine. They are medicines and practices that have not been proven by science to be effective and are based mostly on anecdotal evidence or rather, word of mouth.

Alternative medicine is widely based on the use of herbs, other natural elements, body manipulation and the use of the mind as a component that can be used to prevent and cure illness. These methods have been used for centuries in traditional medicine, such as that used by the Chinese.

Acupuncture, chiropractic and massage are often considered alternative medical procedures, as there is no scientific evidence that they are effective. However, conventional medicine is beginning to see these as effective, and they are becoming accepted as more mainstream. In fact, many alternative treatments and medications once considered alternative are now considered mainstream. In fact, many traditional medicines have led to the discovery of conventional medicines.

The use of herbs, spices and other natural ingredients, such as St. John’s Wort for depression, Echinacea for boosting immunity, and ginger for pain and nausea, have been used by millions and have been found helpful. However, the use of foods as curatives has been controversial. Although good nutrition is important to health, the idea that one or two particular foods can cure an illness is not accepted.

Osteopathy, is a non-invasive, drug-free, manual practice that focuses on creating health and well being through the musculoskeletal framework by using manual manipulation that affects the nervous system and lymphatic system.

In general, alternative therapy is the use of natural substances and non-invasive methods to deal with illness, whether it is lack of sleep, skin disorders, or cancer. True alternative medicine is not widely used.

Integrative Medicine

Integrative medicine is a combination of alternative and conventional medicine. Mind and body wellness, natural substances and Western medicine are used together to obtain optimal health and disease control. It is also sometimes referred to as holistic medicine. This type of health care combines Western medicine with the use of natural remedies, plus the advocacy of mind-body wellness.

Over the past decade, the use of integrative medicine has become more widespread and accepted by medical professionals and the general public.

Natural products sold as dietary supplements such as herbs (botanicals), vitamins, minerals and probiotics are becoming more accepted by mainstream medicine and are now often prescribed as part of a physician’s instructions to a patient.

Fish oil/omega 3 is a supplement often suggested for use in combination with medication for heart disease and high cholesterol. Probiotics are now often suggested for the treatment of mild intestinal disorders.

Integrative medicine strives to include the best that science can provide, while at the same time, using natural and non-invasive methods to treat illness.

Nutrition is seen as a great part in achieving health and wellness. A diet that meets the nutritional needs of the body can help to maintain health and provide an excellent platform for fighting disease. Exercise such as Tai Chi and yoga are often recommended because of the benefits they provide to the body, as well as the calming, positive effects they have on the mind. Meditation can also be useful for focusing and relaxing the mind.

Obtaining a healthy mind and body are seen as an integral part of integrative medicine. A healthy mind and positive attitude toward life can have a great effect upon the body and how one feels.

Before you begin on any medical journey, make sure you talk with your physician and provide all of your medical information so that he/she can recommend the best course of action for you. Dr. Bordenave is located in Coral Gables and is happy to serve the south Florida area, including Miami and West Palm Beach. Give us a call at 305 446-2444 to schedule an appointment.

Sources: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam





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Integrated Medicine: The Importance of Nutrition and Overall Health

According to WebMD, integrative medicine can be summed up as a “whole-person approach — designed to treat the person, not just the disease.”[i] In fact, while there might be some nonconventional medical therapies used within the integrative medicine approach, the main tenant of integrative health is to implement therapies, both conventional and alternative, to heal the mind, body and spirit. Simply defined integrative medicine takes Western medicine and complements it with natural and alternative treatments including herbal medicine, yoga, stress reduction strategies, massage and acupuncture. Miami Integrative Medicine works with every patient, every day to deliver the most complementary medicine. [i]

Integrative medicine improves overall health because it focuses on a comprehensive approach to health from head to toe. When a health problem is discovered, rather than looking at it from a completely medical perspective, it considers all factors that may have contributed to the condition. Factors include how the mind-body connection can directly influence the performance of the body’s immune system.[i] Taking a comprehensive look at one’s emotional, spiritual and physical health, with an emphasis on the relationship between patient and practitioner, integrative medicine looks for all causes and all cures.

Nutrition is a cornerstone of integrative medicine and thus should be followed to promote optimal health. As part of a maintaining one’s spiritual and mental health, nutrition is another way to complement one’s integrative medicine treatment. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, eating a diet based on integrative medicine principles can both prevent and treat cancer. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, in as many colors as possible, are some concrete recommendations to prevent and treat cancer. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli have a natural chemotherapy type compound. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. Generally speaking, Dr. Weil believes that along with the fruits, vegetables and berries, eating nuts, whole grains, and cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids is the best way to complement an approach to integrative medicine.[ii]

Dr. Andrew Weil, consistent with the integrative medicine approach, believes nutrition can only go so far. Hence, there is a need for the complementary approach found with integrative medicine. He believes that a lot of physicians do not spend enough time with their patients going over prevention methods and how to live a healthier life. Since the traditional-only medical community focuses on the causation and fix formula, integrative medicine can provide a hybrid traditional and holistic approach to staying well. Therefore along with eating a wide variety of minimally processed organic foods[iii] and the need for physicians to spend more time educating their patients, found in integrative medicine, Dr. Weil believes following the integrative medicine formula is a good start.[ii]

Proper nutrition can be accomplished by eating foods, but also by nourishing the mind and spirit. Those suffering from serious diseases, including cancer, along with their traditional forms of treatment, receive treatment for the mind, body and soul. As WebMD puts it, “As she puts it, the service is designed to ‘deal with everything but the tumor.’ That means helping patients with stress, pain, and anxiety, as well as providing them with ways to manage symptoms and increase their sense of well-being.”[iv]  The services the patient receives include message, acupuncture, music, nutrition, supplement counseling, meditation, self-hypnosis and much more. The patient became intrigued by it and noticed her pain, stress and anxiety were markedly reduced because her treatment focused on her cancer and her entire body, mind and soul. Now, tying everything together, one can see that integrative medicine takes a comprehensive survey of sicknesses and treats them with not just on approach, but a multi-prong approach.

Dr. Jorge Bordenave practices Integrative, Preventive & Clinical Cardiology.
He is NOAA / UHMS Certified Dive Medical Examiner, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, FIU Medical College and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Bordenave’s practice is located at:

 4908 SW 8 street, Coral Gables, Fl. 33134.

They are open Monday thru Friday 9am to 5pm.

Phone: 305.446.2444

Website: www.miamiintegrativemedicine.com


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  1. Kam, Katherine. What Is Integrative Medicine? April 16, 2009. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-medicine-integrative-medicine, Accessed October 24 2012.
  2. Lowering Cancer Risk. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03061/Preventing-Cancer-With-Integrative-Medicine.html, Accessed October 24, 2012.
  3. Health and Healing in the Dr. Weil Tradition. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/PAG00110/Dr-Weil-Like-Minded-Practitioners.html, Accessed October 24, 2012.
  4. Kam, Katherine. Integrative Medication: A Patient’s View. 10 Marc 2006. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/integrative-medicine-patients-view, Accessed October 24, 2012.