Integrative Medicine aims for the restoration of health, not just "disease management". While I.M. prioritizes the use of safe alternative treatments, it uses pharmaceuticals when medically necessary as well as lab tests and imaging studies. Integrative Medicine is not one type of treatment, but instead an approach to health that looks to identify and treat the underlying causes of health problems, not just manage symptoms. It may include one or more than one therapeutic intervention, and more commonly employs at least two or three.
While including the use pharmaceuticals to a limited extent, Integrative Medicine aspires to avoid them wherever possible, instead relying on treatments that enhance health and remove the underlying causes (so called "root causes") of illness. These include, in Dynamis Integrative & Preventive Medicine, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Functional Medicine and Bowenwork. Some Integrative Practitioners specialize in only one or two of these approaches, and other will use none of them, instead relying more on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Ayurvedic Medicine, osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation, Mind-Body Medicine, and so on. Integrative Medicine does not pretend to have answers for every health problem. It can fail even when skilled practitioners apply their best skills, just as with conventional medicine. Integrative Medicine is more an approach and an idea than a set of treatments. It embodies the ideas originally espoused by Hippocrates, to "first, do no harm", by emphasizing safer approaches to healing. It also aspires to a deeper healing experience than conventional medicine by searching relentlessly for the underlying causes of chronic illness, particularly in those illnesses deemed "idiopathic" -- i.e., ones where doctors have no idea what's causing them. Whereas conventional medicine ascribes a great many chronic illnesses to genetic factors, Integrative Medicine recognizes the epigenetic basis of most chronic illness -- in other words, the environmental triggers for genetic risk factors. Integrative Medicine, in large part is Environmental Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine. It is about studying the ways we have altered our environment through the food we eat, the chemicals we drink, bathe in and apply to ourselves, and the electromagnetic fields which we daily irradiate ourselves. It is about how the environment interacts with our own inborn potentials, on physical, psychic and interpersonal levels. It is about healing from the effects of these exposures. the Integrative Medical Practitioners tend to be passionate about their work, because they believe it reflects a deeper truth about health and healing. Usually, they do not practice it just as a job, but they try to live it daily in their own lives.
Health is generally thought to exist in our own selves -- in our minds and bodies. Integrative Medicine recognizes that health also exists in our relationships to our internal and external environments. It consists of having a harmonious relationship with the microbiologic world that populates our bodies, and with the ecosystem in which we live, which includes all living organisms, and even the planet itself. It advocates and promotes harmonious relationships with our family, friends, neighborhood, community, country, and even the world around us. Integrative Medicine sees that true health can not be obtained until all these systems are functioning well together.