Even with the best doctors in the world, and with the most up-to-date medical research, health and wellness continue to confound us. Some medicines and procedures work for one person, and then entirely fail to work for another. Sometimes, these differences in efficacy can be explained. Sometimes, they can't. This can lead to occasional distrust in the medical industry and in doctors—but it shouldn't. Even if conventional medicine doesn't seem to be doing the trick, our understanding is evolving all the time.
One area which aims to help further our understanding of human wellness in general is integrative medicine. This school of thought supplements conventional treatments with alternative ones instead of substituting one for the other. Crucially, it allows patients to make decisions about their health and explore options that feel right to them without the risk of abandoning evidence-based and effective treatment.
There are many big ideas that fall under the umbrella of integrative medicine—but here are three which have the potential to benefit your life right now.
Especially if you suffer from chronic pain, acupuncture can be life-altering. It involves inserting very fine needles into the body to stimulate the nerves, with the aim of altering the body's response to pain and other sensory discomforts. Although most current research establishes its efficacy for easing pain, it has been said to alleviate nausea in chemotherapy patients.
You may hear mindfulness described in a thousand different ways, because it forms part of a number of different traditions and faiths, including Buddhism. Essentially, it's meditation. Practising mindfulness requires you to focus entirely on the moment you're living in and clear your thoughts. You may do this by focusing on your senses, by controlling your breathing, or by any other method.
It is a skill you'll need to develop, and may not come easily, but practising mindfulness can be extremely helpful for your health and wellness. It will reduce anxiety and stress, and has even been shown to shorten depressive episodes.
Sometimes known as autogenic training, or AT, this form of meditation creates a calm and soothing state within your mind and learning to bring yourself to that place whenever you choose. Like mindfulness, it is a skill which you'll need to acquire rather than something you can learn overnight, but it has been proven to assist with a wide range of issues from migraines, sleep disorders, anxiety, chronic pain and depression.
While some may dismiss these types of treatments as flighty, they are fully evidenced by professional research. The benefits are real—so if you struggle with stress, pain or dissatisfaction in your life, you should certainly consider trying any of these.