• By Deborah Balzer

Mayo Clinic Minute: What is integrative health and how can it help?

March 26, 2019

Would you be surprised if your health care provider recommended yoga, acupuncture or massage therapy as part of your treatment for an illness or disease? It's called "integrative medicine" — an evidence-based holistic approach that combines the best of conventional medicine and what had been referred to as "alternative care."

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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When you're sick, medication or even surgery, may be just what the doctor orders. Dr. Adam Perlman, an integrative health specialist at Mayo Clinic, asks an additional question.

"What else can we do to really improve our sense of well-being?"

That's where acupuncture, yoga or tai chi may be integrated into an overall plan of care. Dr. Perlman describes it as "helping people to go beyond the treatment of disease and pathophysiology, to a place where they are optimizing their vitality."

Evidence shows, for instance, acupuncture can help with chronic pain and may be recommended to those with cancer, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Tai chi helps with balance and reduces falls in older adults. And yoga may reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate.

But, Dr. Perlman says, it's not just what you do with your body that's important.

"Other things that tend to impact our health and well-being are things like gratitude and relationships and how we address those, [and] a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives."

See your health care provider to find out if an integrative health plan is right for you.

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