How is an integrative doctor different from a normal doctor?

How is an integrative doctor different from a normal doctor?

While many doctors incorporate some forms of complementary medicine and therapies into their practice, integrative doctors are specialists with formal nutritional and environmental medicine training and qualifications.

Their approach to treating their patients is to focus on individual patient care, not simply treating an illness in isolation. Integrative doctors take into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of the patient to deliver the most appropriate, safe and evidence-based treatments available.

As described by the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA) – “Integrative 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, health care professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”

The rise in popularity of integrative medicine amongst Australians is understandable when you consider that over 40% of Australian adults take some form of dietary supplement* and around 2 million Australians have or currently participate in yoga**. People are now increasingly seeking a whole-of-mind-and-body approach to their healthcare. Integrative doctors are particularly interested in prevention and lifestyle interventions that can improve the overall health and wellbeing of their patients.

Integrative doctors have an understanding of a number of evidence-based integrative medicine treatments and can provide advice to their patients about which treatments will work best for them in conjunction with conventional western medicine. Examples of integrative medicine treatments include:

  • Mind–body treatments such as mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy
  • Nutritional supplements, herbs, spices and dietary supplements
  • Nutritional medicine such as amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and whole-food powders/juices/functional foods
  • Herbal or spice substances
  • Body-based methods such as musculoskeletal therapies, manipulation, trigger point therapy, massage, yoga, tai chi and qigong
  • Medical acupuncture
  • Environmental medicine that includes advice on reducing or avoiding exposure to allergens, pollutants and chemicals and promoting a clean environment
  • Traditional healing systems such as naturopathic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine
  • Homeopathy.

For more information on the work of integrative doctors or to find one near you visit the integrative medicine page on our website:


*O’Brien, S. and Malacova, E. and Sherriff, J. and Black, L. 2017. The prevalence and predictors of dietary supplement use in the Australian population. Nutrients. 9 (10): 1154.

**Yoga Australia.