It would follow logically that Integrative Pediatrics is Pediatric Integrative Medicine, or simply stated, Integrative Medicine for kids. The real question is, what is integrative medicine?
Often, terms like CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) are bandied about, implying that integrative medicine is simply a hodge-podge adaption of several “uncoventional” modalities like acupuncture and homeopathy, to “conventional” medical practice. But IM is a more than this – it is a philosophy of health care. I like the IM Consortium‘s definition:
“Integrative Medicine is the practice of medicine that 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 disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”
Developed and Adopted by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, May 2004; Edited May 2005
The highlights are mine. Let’s take a closer look at these key components.
Relationship: IM is relationship-centered. The bond and communication between pediatrician, child and family is crucial both diagnostically and therapeutically. Furthermore, the interaction of each child with his or her environment (local, global, natural and artificial) is key.
Whole: IM is a holistic practice. The mind, body, and spirit of the child are linked and need to be in balance for optimal health (more on this below).
Evidence: I think the key term here is the modifier “informed by,” as many of the “unconventional” modalities utilized in IM are evidence-guided but perhaps not strictly evidence-based. As healers we use our intuition and experience to guide us as well as research findings, when applicable. We value individuality and understand that one size does not fit all. Each and every child responds uniquely to each and every therapy, each and every time.
Appropriate: You notice that I keep putting unconventional or conventional in quotes. Convention depends on one’s cultural frame of reference. Appropriateness also implies concern for safety, and weighing risk versus benefit is always necessary. What are safe risks for us to take as adults may not be so for our children. We value gentle, natural remedies whenever possible and appropriate.
Optimal health: Health is considered not just the absence of disease, but the presence of optimal functioning – again, in mind, body and spirit. We focus on wellness and prevention, with a strong belief in the innate healing capacities of children. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
You can always count on good old Ben Franklin for a nice end quotation.