Why People Visit An Alternative Medical Practitioner

For a holistic and more personalized approach to health

Credits: Yaan Maignan at Unsplash.com
Edited By:
Aunna Pourang , MD

Most people appreciate a more personalized and comprehensive approach to their health. When it comes to dermatology, it’s no exception. Some people are beginning to connect conventional and alternative approaches to deliver quality advice and care for certain skin conditions. In some ways, a visit to your alternative medical practitioner may seem less intimidating than visiting your usual doctor.


The Atmosphere

Generally, an integrative medical practitioner’s office is similar to any other doctor’s; however, people have described it as being more casual and comfortable. There is almost less pressure and worry when you are waiting for your appointment because you are not waiting for an undesirable flu shot or waiting to hear back about test results. This environment feels comforting beyond the symptoms. The atmosphere is really up to the character of the physician, but the alternative practitioner’s office aims to find your path to holistic medicine.


Feeling Heard

The key focus of integrative medicine is the patient-physician relationship. There may be more time spent with an integrative medical practitioner as they pay close attention to all of the patient’s lifestyle choices, including diet, exercise, and stress management. Patients may feel a better sense of connection with this approach and feel heard as they play a more active role in their own health care.



People who feel like they aren’t being “heard” feel more comfortable in the integrative medicine setting because they typically have longer visits and may have an opportunity to explore their concerns in more detail. The integrative medical approach looks holistically at a person by delving deep into a person’s life. Maybe the practitioner sets up a nutrition panel to see if he/she can find a diet solution or may assign acupuncture, but they will dig deep into the complexity of the patient’s problem.


How to Get the Best of Conventional and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are being integrated together with conventional medicine. The combination of both of these approaches is beginning to show effectiveness in providing complete and comprehensive care to a patient. The conventional physician may be able to help with symptoms, while the alternative medical practitioner might be able to provide holistic insight and delve into the mind-body connection. Having a combination of both approaches can bring out the best in medicine and treatments provided to an individual. 

One study examined whether an integrative medicine approach that combined conventional and alternative medicine is more effective for rehabilitation and treatment of people that had a recent subacute stroke. They found that this treatment protocol, which is commonly used in clinical practice, showed that conventional rehabilitation plus acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine improved the subacute stroke outcomes significantly more than the conventional rehabilitation group only. The conventional rehabilitation combined with integrative medicine showed lower incidences of adverse events and milder symptoms compared to the control. This shows that an approach combining both conventional and integrative medicine can be more effective in treatment.

Medicine is a highly adaptable field, and people should consider combining practitioners from different backgrounds that will ultimately bring about the best care. Many treatments that are outside of Western medicine have been studied and some have proven to be effective while others have not. This suggests that a team-based approach will allow one to see the important aspects of either kind of medicine, leading to more integrative and holistic care.

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