Integrative medicine has emerged as a potential solution to the Indian health care crisis. It provides care that is patient-centered; healing orientedand uses approaches originating from conventional and alternative medicine. Initially driven by consumer demand, the attention to integrative medicine places an understanding to whole persons and assisting with lifestyle change is now being recognized as a strategy to address the epidemic of chronic diseases bankrupting our economy. This paper defines integrative medicine and its principles, describes the history of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in health care, and discusses the current state and desired future of integrative medical practice. The importance of patient-centered care, patient empowerment, behavior change, continuity of care, outcomes research, and the challenges to successful integration are discussed. The authors suggest a model for an integrative health care system grounded in team- based care.
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