Changing the conversation about health

IMA Principles

The Integrated Medicine Alliance (IMA) is a group of organisations that have been brought together for the purpose of encouraging and optimising the best use of complementary therapies alongside conventional healthcare for the benefit of all. 
The IMA symbolises a new relationship between complementary medicine and the health service and we work to encourage integrated medical care of the patient – the use of conventional and complementary health together to optimise health and healing.
We work closely with social prescribers and conventional healthcare to provide information about how complementary therapies may help with their patients and on how complementary therapists can work with conventional healthcare.

The IMA is led by the following principles:

  1. A focus on holistic optimal health and healing rather than disease-based models of health
  2. A personalised approach emphasising self-care, personal empowerment and responsibility, respecting the body’s innate healing and transformative potential
  3. A focus on relationship-based care between practitioner and patient
  4. A focus on natural, non-pharmaceutical approaches rather than drug-based therapy, many times using ancient healing wisdom and practices
  5. Decisions informed by evidence and making use of appropriate therapeutic approaches and healthcare professionals to deliver a personalised approach to health and healing.

It is clear that modern medicine, with developments in science and technology has resulted in a vastly improved understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, but this emphasis on science and technology to the exclusion of other elements of healing also limits the development of a holistic and more humane model of healing. 
The emphasis of specialist and subspecialist medicine has resulted in an even more fragmented view of holistic person-centred health while primary care doctors are overwhelmed by workload and time-pressures leaving them insufficient time and resources to address the more holistic aspects of health, where they may have insufficient time, training and expertise.
Conventional medical doctors may not be adept at all healing aspects of the human being, but they should at least be aware of psychological and spiritual issues in their patients and should be aware of the implications of ignoring these aspects when it comes to health and healing. 
The healing of a patient must include the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of human health. 
The challenge with many alternative, complementary or holistic practices is that for all their sincere efforts, conventional medical doctors seldom know which of these practices will work with their patient.

Thus, the IMA will aim to help educate, inform, and campaign for these principles.

Which complementary therapy is right for me?

The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/) suggests the following:

  1. Decisions about your health care are important – including decisions about whether or not to use complementary health approaches.
  2. Complementary approaches can be classified by their primary therapeutic input (how the therapy is taken in or delivered), which may be:
    • Nutritional (eg special diets, dietary supplements, herbs, probiotics, and microbial-based therapies)
    • Psychological (eg meditation, hypnosis, music therapies, relaxation therapies)
    • Physical (eg acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation)
    • Combinations such as psychological and physical (eg yoga, tai chi, dance therapies, some forms of art therapy) or psychological and nutritional (eg mindful eating).

Some complementary approaches may not neatly fit into any of the groups above – for example, the practices of traditional healers, Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and functional medicine.
When considering complementary health approaches, it is important to take charge of your health by being an informed consumer. Find out and consider what scientific studies have been done on the safety and effectiveness of the product or practice that interests you.

For more information on specific complementary health approaches and what the science says about them, the “Health Information” page at the NCCIH has an A–Z list of various complementary health products and practices. Discuss the information with your health care provider before making a decision.
When looking for a complementary health practitioner, consider asking your health care provider, a local hospital, or a professional organisation (the IMA does not recommend or make referrals to practitioners and does not provide complementary healthcare or treatments.)