The olden days when you called your family doctor with a problem and he said, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” are gone. Thankfully, that kind of one-size-fits-all medical care has been replaced with a “whole-patient” approach, the most inclusive health care approach to date – integrative medicine.
It’s not another field of conventional medicine like cardiology, orthopedics, internal medicine or radiology. And it’s not another field of alternative medicine such as herbalism, chiropractics, homeopathy or acupuncture.
It’s both. A blend of conventional and alternative or complementary medicine, taking into account a person’s overall health — including consideration of mental-emotional, family, lifestyle, work and socioeconomic factors.
“There are many definitions of ‘integrative’ health care,” according to popular wellness guru Andrew Weil M.D., as quoted on the Integrative Medicine de Taos (IMdT) website, “but all involve bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors.”
IMdT’s board chair Rob Hawley, well-known herbalist and co-owner of Taos Herb Store, said the board has great plans, as well as great challenges in the next few years ahead.
“IMdT’s mission is integrating the diverse wisdom and knowledge of Taos. We’re still young. We’re trying to come up with creative ways to bridge the gap between Western and alternative medicine. Which is important,” he stressed, “because medicine is in crisis with increasing expenses and decreasing insurance reimbursement.
“Doctors are being forced into assembly-line medicine with an increasing burden of office work and insurance billing. Medicare was just reduced again. These things are moving so fast, we might lose our little hospital.”
Hawley is the son of the late Taos cardiologist and pathologist Dr. Robert Hawley, Sr. who practiced at Holy Cross Hospital, and upheld herbal medicine, healing rituals and spiritualism common to Native and Hispanic healing traditions in Taos as critical to patient well-being. Traditions that naturopath Rob Hawley, Jr. and the IMdT board of directors seek to blend with conventional treatments for optimal health and wellness.
Integrative medicine is not so much trying to pit alternative medicine against Western medicine, as much as it is using both approaches as the patient’s health requires, Hawley said.
“We’re doing well with cancer these days, but not diabetes and heart disease," he explained. "We can manage them, but we’re not stopping them. The solution is lifestyle changes and management. We have good science that shows if people change their diet and exercise, then health increases.”
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Hawley added that IMdT is actively seeking ways to educate people to a future that brings together various traditions of caring for the whole person.
One example is the Wellness Fiesta in early September. Look for vendors of all modalities of health care, music, dancing and other fun stuff. Information and education will be via Taos Talks (the Taos medical version of the popular Ted Talks platform) and integrative medicine panels discussing real or theoretical health scenarios.
Most important of all is signing up for IMdT emails regarding their “Monthly Meet-ups” on first Mondays, open to the public; and getting updates on the September health event. Sign up for emails on imdt.life or go to em.godaddy.com/signups/203170/join.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (505) 591-8028 (toll free, 800-914-5810).