Integrative Health 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, disciplines and healthcare professionals to achieve optimal health and healing. The vision is a comprehensive and compassionate health care system offering seamless integration of effective complementary and conventional approaches to promote healing and health in every individual and community.
Some examples of Integrative Health:
Mind-Body Modalities such as yoga, hypnosis, relaxation, meditation, neurofeedback, guided imagery, music therapy and massage therapy are quickly becoming part of mainstream medical care and can reduce anxiety, chronic pain and mood disturbance as well as improve sleep and quality of life. Evidence shows the benefit of support groups, supportive-expressive therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral stress management. Yoga classes are now available in the H.E.A.L. Center.
Acupuncture assists in the control of nausea and helps reduce the levels of nausea medication required. Trials od acupuncture for radiation-induced dry mouth, chemptherapy induced tingling or pain in fingers, treatment of pain and post-thoracic surgical pain show promising results. A acupuncture study completed at Dana Farber Cancer Institute suggested improved neutrophil (white blood cell) count at the predicted low points and improved rebounding after chemotherapy. Some health plans are beginning to pay for this treatment.
Neurofeedback is the treatment of cognitive impairment following chemotherapy, often called "chemo brain." It is a new, exciting ares of research the advisory committee has explored with a member of the BMC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and three community practitioners. Neurofeedback requires a referral from your doctor.
Massage Therapy is important for cancer patients experiencing pain, anxiety, fatigue and sleep disturbance. Massage therapy delivered by an oncology trained massage therapist is recommended as part of multimodality treatment. The application of deep or intense pressure is not recommended near cancer lesions, enlarged lymph nodes, radiation fields, medical devices or anatomic distortions after surgery or patients with bleeding disorders.
Exercise has been shown to have great value for improving wellness and cardiovascular health while reducing symptoms of cancer treatment. It also may impact cancer survival.
- Regular physical activity and exercise improve quality of life, physical functioning and emotional well-being as well as reducing fatigue.
- Physical activity after breast cancer treatment may reduce the risk of death from this disease. Greatest benefit is for women who preform the equivalent of walking 3-5 hours a week at a mosest pace.
- In a study of Stage III colon cancer, patients were recurrence-free six months after surgery, suggesting that combined chemotherapy and physical activity appear to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and mortality.
- Evidence is also demonstrating benefits for physical activity and exercise for prostate cancer patients and survivors.
Energy Therapies such as Reiki and Healing Touch are being offered, though there is limited evidence for efficacy and the mechanism of action is not well understood. Some limited clinical trials show that these interventions can improve symptoms, quality of life and a sense of control and hope as well as being relaxing.