Dr. Ya-Ling J. Liou: The limited beliefs of integrative medicine also limit its progress

Ya-Ling J. Liou: The limited beliefs of integrative medicine also limit its progress

Integrative Wisdom is a collection of insights from individuals across the integrative medicine community, who share this common mission: making integrative medicine part of every healthcare discussion. Now it’s your turn. Read real insights from individuals who are actively participating in this conversation.

For patients who are looking for a more integrative approach: You are not alone. Dr. For patients who are looking for a more integrative approach: You are not alone.Persistent limited beliefs of integrative medicine along with complacency are part of the biggest barriers to making integrative medicine standard in healthcare. Every discipline or provider in health care, both conventional and alternative medicine practitioners, are guilty of this. Education and dissemination of information are the most powerful tools.

A Network of Practitioners

In my practice community, I see a growing tendency between specialties to collaborate or at least not to discourage patients from seeking out multidisciplinary approaches. The vast majority of my patients have a full network of practitioners, allopathic and complementary alike. If not, I certainly do what I can to point them in a more comprehensive direction. Yet, I see that patients are hesitant to talk with their allopathic physicians about the alternative methods they use and vice versa. It’s as though they fear they will be chided or met with resistance. They sometimes will be, and this might be why there is a pervasive silence among patients.

I personally will go so far as to encourage patients to employ two different practitioners of the same discipline if they offer different strengths. There are some patients of mine who occasionally will see different chiropractors who use different techniques and I want patients to know that this is a wise use of their healthcare resources – they are not “cheating” on me. They are using their best instincts (based on informed conversations with trusted resources) to do what benefits them the most. Taking the practitioner ego out of it is perhaps the key. That would allow for us to see that what best serves the patient is what matters most.

For patients who are looking for a more integrative approach: You are not alone. You deserve a well-rounded health care team of your choosing who help you feel empowered and not diminished.


For practitioners who aren’t sure how to integrate: Remember you have something unique to offer but you cannot be everything to everyone. Widening your patients’ circle of practitioners will only reflect well on your judgment and other practitioners will be grateful for your insight.

Want more from Dr. Ya-Ling J. Liou? Read her book Every Body’s Guide to Everyday Pain