Cells, carriers, receptors, biomarkers – people today are broken down into their smallest parts when it comes to diagnosing and treating diseases. The smallest units of the human body are kept on the lookout for breakdowns, variances or disruptive factors that need fixing in order to recover. Medicine itself has also disintegrated in recent years – at least in traditional years. There is hardly a doctor who does not have a specialty within the specialty. This often leads the view away from the person as a whole – towards the specific disease. But humans, with all their tiny and tiny components, don’t hammer into specialized areas. To be able to understand the human system as a whole, it seems that not only all specialized fields, but above all medical disciplines work together to be relevant. Ideally, traditional and complementary medicine merge into a symbiosis that seems to be underestimated in many places.
“Man is divided into isolated parts – organ systems. Their wholeness and uniqueness, which is much more than the sum of the parts, often remains in the background or is completely lost,” says General Practitioner and Physician of Ayurveda, Lothar Kreiner, in the summary of “Integrative Medicine” (Springer-Verlag). The one-sided belief in the “absolute power” of traditional medicine includes the idea that it is only a matter of time, the amount of money devoted to research and the health budget until all diseases are “overcome” and healthy old age becomes a reality for all people all people will be.
In poor health
But, despite the great successes of modern medicine, the development of the state of health of the population is not at all satisfactory. Chronic diseases – think of cardiovascular disease or metabolic disorders such as diabetes, which are also often referred to as modern epidemics, but also age-related diseases such as dementia – are on the rise, and infectious diseases with modified viruses – such as COVID-19 are difficult On us – or new germs or antibiotic resistance. So holistic physicians demand a combination of different medical perspectives in order to be able to provide the best possible medicine for everyone.
“Medicine should not be viewed in black and white, but as a group – and if possible without prejudice,” explains internist and integrative physician Michael Frase in an interview with “Wiener Zeitung”. But the cooperation of complementary medicine with traditional medicine requires special sensitivity. In order to achieve an advantage for the patient, one must learn to distinguish between the potential side effects of conventional medicine and the distortions or reactions of integrative medicine.
Feras asserts that if complementary methods can be used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients in a way that treatment can be avoided, then combining them becomes a win-win situation.
Complementary medicine, alternative medicine, holistic medicine, integrative medicine – there has been no shortage of names for a mix of extensive treatment options over the years. Why is not entirely clear. It is possible that the pursuit of recognition and the ever-increasing headwinds have led to the search for a comprehensive, understandable and acceptable term in different directions.
“I’ve been following these naming efforts for decades, but I feel like it shouldn’t really matter,” Firas said. The word alternative medicine is no longer in use or no longer in use in German-speaking countries – “mainly because there is clearly an immediate headwind and colleagues are afraid to exclude conventional medicine altogether, which is in fact nonsense”. But it feels that way. For a long time it was called complement – that is, complement. But this term does not take diversity into account, thus the term integration is suspended today. “This includes virtually every form of medicine,” you should take that into account.
Integration means that it is a method established in medicine which provides the possibility, within the scope of acquired skills and knowledge, to apply methods that have a long-term impact on the patient. It is also as resourceful as possible, gentle, and with which the patient can get the best of himself with and without the combination of conventional medicine.
The word holistic medicine can be found in many university organizations – including Vienna International Academy of Holistic Medicine (rigid) or Austrian umbrella organization for comprehensive medical medicine. Firas believes it will be kept there for historical reasons. One would like to express that he looks at the whole patient – that is, not a disease, but a sick person in the first place.
With complementary medical methods, the focus is on the healing effect or the long-term effect and not the treatment as such. “In traditional medicine, efforts are made to suppress symptoms in many cases and to replace any missing substances. But in rare cases there is a tendency toward recovery,” says the doctor. “Health cannot be achieved only by ‘repairing’ parts of the body, mind, or spirit,” stresses Kreiner.
Most important is Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), which is given particularly high priority. In the modern sense, the focus is on the results of clinical studies, from which treatment steps, treatment methods and guidelines are derived. An important aspect that makes it possible to further develop medicine in all its aspects. However, as Canadian physician David Sackett, one of the pioneers of EBM, said, Evidence Based Medicine rests on three pillars – individual clinical experience, patient values and desires and the current state of research. Experience includes clinical knowledge, case numbers, and prognosis as well as diagnosis and treatment. Patients want attention, information and confidence as well as improvement, continuation of treatment, and a return to their daily lives as quickly as possible.
According to Saket, there are three pillars that support the great house of medicine. The best stability is naturally achieved when all three columns have the same dimensions.