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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-4

Integrative health and wellness – time to integrate wisdom from different types of medical disciplines for public health

1 Indian Coalition for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), Former Professor and Head, Center for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India
2 Integrative Health, Happiness and Wellbeing, ICCIDD, New Delhi, India
3 Nxt Venture Labs LLP, certified Life and Business Coach and Integrative Medicine Health Care professional,  
4 Sanjivan Foundation, Pune, ND (Diploma in Naturopathy), MBA (Finance and Marketing), Sarthac Holistic Healthcare Center, Pune, India

Date of Submission24-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance24-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication31-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Chandrakant S Pandav
Sardar Bhawan, (Ground Floor) 39, Shahpur Jat, Near Asian Games Village, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JIMPH.JIMPH_5_21

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How to cite this article:
Pandav CS, Kedari H, Mishra T, Thigale SH. Integrative health and wellness – time to integrate wisdom from different types of medical disciplines for public health. J Integr Med Public Health 2022;1:1-4

How to cite this URL:
Pandav CS, Kedari H, Mishra T, Thigale SH. Integrative health and wellness – time to integrate wisdom from different types of medical disciplines for public health. J Integr Med Public Health [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 2];1:1-4. Available from: http://www.jimph.org/text.asp?2022/1/1/1/346309

  Clinical Approach vs. Public Health Approach to Health Care Top

  • Clinical Approach – primary role is diagnosis and treatment of illness in individuals, preventive medicine (e.g., immunizations, smoking cessation, obesity counseling and other behavioral/lifestyle concerns) has only been addressed recently – focus remains on the individuals.

  • Public Health Approachprimary role is in control and prevention of disease in populations or groups of individuals, some activities (e.g., diagnosing cases associated with outbreaks and treating persons with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis or syphilis) may overlap with those in clinical medicine.

  • There are notable differences between the two disciplines of clinical medicine and Public Health.

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    Adapted from: Fineberg, Harvey, MD, PhD, Dean, Harvard University School of Public Health, 1990. Traditional Distinctions Between Public Health and Medicine.[1]

    Towards a definition of Integrative Health and Wellness:

    Historically, until a couple of years ago, modern medicine was broadly classified in two ways: (i) Western Medicine, and (ii) Eastern Medicine.

    Western Medicine, also labeled as Allopathic, is generally based on Aristotelian logic, relying heavily on empirical concepts, assessing symptoms for underlying causes, and alleviating these symptoms with tested verifiable methods. The practitioners of this modality of medicine adopt an analytical reductionist scientific rigor to invite global acceptance, constantly seeking to reduce the symptoms of the underlying causes through scientifically verifiable and documented methods. Concurrently, we must, also, note that the Western Medicine has been around for a comparatively short period of time, relative to Eastern Medicine, which has been dominant for thousands of years, probably from the dawn of civilization.

    Eastern Medicine, on the other hand, which is, also, labeled as Alternative, Complimentary and Natural care, undertakes a holistic totalitarian approach, observing the self to be more and beyond the physical body. Therefore, the practitioners of this modality of medicine treat the total self, the total person comprising of the body, mind, and spirit, addressing the underlying causes, usually invisible, ratherthan just treating the person’s symptoms. Although, most of the practices under this Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), or natural care, remain popular, however most of the times, these practices barely cross the precinct of geographical and cultural locality.

    Western and Eastern Medicine, although on the surface, may seem diametrically opposite, but both practitioners and patients have noticed and confirmed over the years that the two approaches enhance the efficacy of the other and, therefore, act as complimentary adjuncts. Out of this, was born a new modality of medicine, termed Integrative Medicine. The Integrative Health and Wellness approach, which combines the best practices of both Western and Eastern Medicine, and which is a unifying thought dismissing any hierarchies and intentions, seems to be more successful in achieving affordable, accessible, available, acceptable and Universal Health Care (UHC) solutions.

    The global crisis in public health care is alarming and deepening. For the vast sections of society, an affordable and accessible quality health care system seems like a mirage- a distant reality. Health Care systems need to comprehend and acknowledge the complex interplay of biology, social behavior, life-style choice and dietary preferences, socio-epidemiological, political-economic, and environmental factors that shape health. These factors cannot be considered in isolation from one another. Planning effective disease treatment requires addressing them all together, fully and in an integrated and harmonious manner.

    Ancient traditional systems (In the West, we use terms such as Complimentary or Alternative Medicines (CAM)) to describe Eastern Medicine, whereas in the East, the Eastern Medicine is called as “Traditional Medicine”; such as Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH) have historically offered an alternate route to a healthy lifestyle, addressing all aspects of the person – body, mind and soul. Moreover, when these modalities have been practiced alongside Allopathic Medicine, they have been shown to aid in the discovery, development and delivery of new drugs with enhanced efficacy and safety, and at lower prices. Additionally, some peripheral and related non-pharmacological approaches such as lifestyle modifications and dietary adjustments, “Pranayama and Meditation”, “Music and Dance therapy”, for example, have also been confirmed to be other simple and affordable solutions that have successfully healed both the symptoms of the diseases and more importantly underlying causes of diseases as well. Therefore, there is a renewed interest in bringing in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and care into the mainstream allopathic care through the Integrative Health and Wellness route. This has fueled further evidence based research and to gain wider acceptance in the larger interest of public health.[2]

    The term ‘Integration and Wellness’ means combination or unification. And, therefore, the scope of Integrated Health and Wellness sciences is to be understood from the perspective of both: (i) combining best practices of traditional Western allopathic medicine and natural Eastern Complimentary and Alternative Care; and, (ii) developing the training and teaching pedagogy; treatment; and research and global implementation. Integrative Health and Wellness sciences exist to promote the best practices of all possible systems of healing and treatment of diseases under one umbrella. This will ensure standardization of a framework of processes and encourage the most efficacious medical, health and family welfare and care. Moreover, Integrative Health and Wellness is a whole-person and patient centric health practice that uses therapies and modalities that are both evidence and experience based from diverse set of medical disciplines including traditional allopathic medicine and natural eastern Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

    The modalities under Integrative Health and Wellness offer longer consultation and emphasize minimally invasive therapies such as somatic therapies, bioenergetics, mind-body integrative approaches, lifestyle and balanced dietary and nutrition therapies, etc. The corner stone of all modalities as part of Integrative Health and Wellness is clear: integration of seemingly opposites – mind and body; spirit and matter; male and female; light and shadow energies. Add to it, another important aspect of healing and one of the major focuses for Integrative Health and Wellness: doctor-patient relationship. The doctor practicing Integrative Health and Wellness modality helps the patient slowly move away from cure (which is alleviating the symptoms of disease) towards healing (which is assuring a state of wholeness). Therefore, of utmost importance for a doctor of Integrative Health and Wellness is her/his ability to listen and intuit. And relying on such skills, the doctor of an Integrative modality essentially helps the patient realize her or his state of wholeness, regardless of the appearances of symptoms. And, thus, the goal of Integrative Health and Wellness is transformation and wholeness.

    Integrative Health and Wellness combines Western Allopathic modalities with Eastern Complimentary and Alternative (CAM) therapies and has a holistic approach, treating the body, mind and spirit as part of the total person. Therefore, Integrative Health and Wellness addresses the underlying causes of a disease rather than just alleviate symptoms. And as a means to this end, the treatment modalities as part of Integrative Health and Wellness may focus on not only physical healing, but also on emotional, intellectual, spiritual and environmental and economical concerns, and majorly promotes and prefers natural and less invasive alternatives. The patient and its family and the Integrative Health and Wellness care provider usually form a partnership that allows for the holistic wellness to be achieved most efficiently and efficaciously, and the results include, but not limited to, positive beliefs and overall wellness and community to the healing of the body, mind and soul. At the same time, the treatments as part of the Integrative Health and Wellness modality are rooted in scientific discovery and inquiry. And because of this, the way in which Integrative Health and Wellness treatment is delivered and administered can vary by geographical location and community, but its ubiquitous appeal and nature is constant across different avenues of healthcare.

    The increasing popularity of Integrative Health and Wellness is embedded in the single minded focus of the doctor to realize for the patient hers or his inherent wholeness, and thereby reduce suffering. Accordingly, a newly coined term for this unifying approach of Integrative Health and Wellness is “Non-local” Medicine, which asserts that the basis of physical reality including physical health, does not lie within the physical observable plane, but rather in the unexplored, invisible planes / dimensions of reality that runs through everything. This assertion universalizes Integrative Health and Wellness, and advocates that true healing (and not merely a cure of symptoms of a disease) requires nurturing of the mind and soul in addition to the body, which goes over and beyond the idea of simply combining Complimentary and Alternative (CAM) modalities with conventional traditional Western Allopathic care. A variety of therapies outside of conventional bio-medical and epidemiological and politico-economical concerns can often help patients deal with difficult illness and disease. Integrative Health and Wellness services can take the form of a consultation, stand-alone clinic, and / or primary service. The benefits, in all likelihood, include, but not limited to: reduced patient and family distress, and lowered associated healthcare costs, and without lowering efficacy and / or quality of treatment.

    People of this country deserve to have proper healthcare. India’s Public Health sector is facing a shortage of doctors and healthcare practitioners. The easily taught concepts in Ayurveda could be taught in schools as life skills. If Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) and Naturopathy systems can become more globally known, India could attract more tourism with their authentic Integrative Health and Wellness dispensaries and centres, while concurrently promoting entrepreneurship and employment opportunities with consequent economic growth.

    In summary, it is felt that the time has come for healing practitioners to take a stand, expand their scope of practice, and to focus on energies to create Integrative Health and Wellness centres, prevent diseases and promote health.

    India needs to relook public health through the lens of Integrative Health and Wellness, which presents an integration of spirituality, psychology, and physicality within one comprehensive system. Within this framework, body, mind and spirit are equally importance facets of every one of India’s citizens - cutting across race, religion and economic status –yet comprising one unified entity. And, in honoring the full spectrum of human wholeness and aliveness, Integrative Health and Wellness, we believe, will be a most effective and efficient contribution towards the restoration of one’s wondrously divine potential. And with the map of Integrative Health and Wellness in hand, we believe that the journey to wellness and wholeness will be in perfect harmony and thoroughly enjoyable, purposeful and fulfilling.

    The above discussion should be seen in the broader context of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The following SDGs have direct and/or indirect implications on Health and Wellness.

  • Good Health and Well Being (Goal No. 3);

  • Zero Hunger (Goal No. 2);

  • Quality Education (Goal No. 4);

  • Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal No. 6);

  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal No. 8);

  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal No. 9);

  • Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal No. 12);

  • Climate Action (Goal No. 13);

  • Life on Land (Goal No. 15); and

  • Partnerships for the Goals (Goal No. 17).

  • Acknowledgement

    The Authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr Kartheek Reddy, Mr Vignesh Reddy, Prof Hrushikesh Kedari and Ms Susmita Mukherjee in preparing this editorial.

    Financial support and sponsorship


    Conflicts of interest

    There are no conflicts of interest.

      References Top

    Institute of Medicine. Who Will Keep the Public Healthy?: Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2003. https://doi.org/10.17226/10542.  Back to cited text no. 1
    Clinical Approach vs. Public Health Approach to Health Care. https://www.soinc.org/sites/default/files/uploaded_files/3_19_DD_HANDOUT_PART1.pdf  Back to cited text no. 2


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