The field of integrative health and medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and professions to achieve optimal health and healing. Simply put, integrative health and medicine offer best practices for optimal health and healing.
Many terms have been commonly used to describe this field over the past two decades. Alternative medicine was a term used to express approaches that were separate from conventional medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) then became the preferred term, indicating a broad range of healing philosophies and approaches that were outside of conventional approaches but could be used as stand-alone alternatives or adjunctive approaches to conventional care. Integrative medicine is a newer term that emphasizes the integration of CAM approaches with conventional medicine, and is the term that is preferred by educational and governmental institutions.