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What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative Medicine (IM) is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and client, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.


Wheel of Health from the Vanderbilt Osher Center

Foundations of Integrative Medicine

Habits of Health

There is a very real interaction between the lived experience and it's effect on gene regulation. Food, exercise, stress and sleep all interact to either switch on or off genes that promote health or disease.


The foundation of integrative medicine is promoting an environment where body biology is in balance and health promoting genes are expressed. 

Ocean Rocks

1. Real Food

Choose whole, plant-based foods that are fiber-filled, nutrient dense, health-promoting and disease-fighting! Consider veggies, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds as your foundational daily nutrition superstars.

2. Movement & Exercise

Regular, consistent physical activity that can be maintained on a daily basis throughout life is one of the most powerful medications to prevent and reduce illness. It effects every body system in beneficial ways.

3. Sleep, Circadian rhythm and Recovery

Inadequate amount or quality of sleep leads to poor recovery from illness, strained immune system low mood and chronic disease. Integrative medicine identifies habits to improve sleep health.

4. Relationships and community

Social connectedness, friendship and love are essential to our emotional resiliency and overall health. Isolation and loneliness are associated with increased illness, suffering and premature death.  

5. Mind-body connection

Mindfulness and awareness practices can help create connection in the moment, reduce stress and allow connection to your values and a meaningful life. 

6. Stress Management and balance

Eu-stress can either lead to improved health and productivity — but dys-stress can lead to anxiety, depression, metabolic imbalance, immune dysfunction and poor health outcomes. Recognising negative stress responses, and utilising stress reduction techniques can improve health and wellbeing.

7. Environment

Avoiding pollutants via waterways, soil, pesticides as well as minimizing contact with endocrine disruptors from plastics and phthalates is important for health. Likewise minimising harmful substances such as alcohol, and tobacco are important for long-term health. 

8. Spirit/Soul/Meaning/Values

Spirituality, in the broadly sense, is the feeling of connection, purpose, meaning, and balance in life. Practices such as prayer, affirmation, mindfulness or gratitude practices can be tools to recognize and transform stress and navigate adversity.

Principles of Integrative Medicine

Client and practitioner are partners in the healing process.

Integrative medicine asks how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual within their lived experience.

From a te ao Maori perspective integrative medicine aligns with Te Whare Tapa Whā, where health and wellbeing is envisioned as a wharenui/meeting house with four walls.


The walls represent:

  • taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing,

  • taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing,

  • taha tinana/physical wellbeing and

  • taha whānau/family and social wellbeing.

  • connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation of health and wellbeing.

When all these things are in balance, we thrive. When one or more of these is out of balance our wellbeing is impacted.

Integrative medicine considers health and illness as part of a continuum in which all components of the human biological system interact dynamically with the environment. Integrative medicine may be described as the clinical application of systems biology.

All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including the environment, mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.

Appropriate use of healthy habits, medications, supplements, and mind-body medicine to facilitates restoration of balance or homeostasis and activates the body's innate healing response.

Effective natural and less invasive tests and interventions are used whenever possible.


Integrative medicine is evidenced based and critically utilises both conventional medicine and traditional wisdom-based therapies.


Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.


Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount in integrative medicine.

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