Foundation for Integrated Medicine

A revolutionary approach to healing people — not just treating diseases

What is Integrated Medicine?

Integrated Medicine couples the latest scientific advances with the most profound insights of ancient healing systems, giving you the best ways to preserve health, increase longevity and speed recovery from illness.

Integrated Medicine is a revolutionary approach to healing people — not just treating diseases — using the unique tool called person-centered diagnosis.

Integrated Medicine recognizes that the outcome of all health care is strongly dependent upon four powerful influences in the lives of each person. These four pillars of healing are:

  • Relationship. The social support network: family, friends, involvement in community, and a strong-patient alliance.
  • Diet and lifestyle. Nutrition, habits, and the daily pattern of rest and exercise.
  • A healthy environment. Protection from chemical and biological toxins.
  • Detoxification. The body’s ability to self-purify and protect itself from internal toxicity.
  • Integrated Medicine allows you to find optimal health by understanding your individual needs for achieving balance and harmony.

Integrated Medicine

You are taking an important step toward improving your health and protecting the health of your family.

The truth is that diseases don’t just happen. They result from complex, interacting factors. These are often predictable. They are also distinct for each individual person.

Doctors don’t cure diseases. At best we use our technical skills, our knowledge of science and our passion for helping others to enable people to heal themselves. At worst, we undermine the healing process by ignoring the needs of the person who is sick or the body’s requirements for healing itself. The best treatments–medical and surgical–depend for their ultimate effects on the healing power of the body.

These insights have begun to change the way we think about health and illness. We have learned that suppressing disease is not enough to restore health. People everywhere, doctors included, are hungry for information that allows them to strengthen the healing process.

During thirty years as a practicing physician, I have attempted to understand why some people who are ill regain their health entirely, while other people with the same disease receiving the same treatment fail to recover and still others get better only to become sick over and over again. My research led me to the conclusion that long-term health outcomes are primarily controlled by important factors in the lives of each person. I call these factors the “pillars of healing.” Supporting them often has a more profound effect upon health than merely treating disease.

Since publishing the first edition of my book, POWER HEALING (Random House, 2nd edition 1998) I have encountered a growing acceptance of the importance of these pillars for restoring and maintaining health. Medical centers across the nation are feeling pressure from the communities they serve to be more patient-centered. Many are attempting to incorporate therapies which help to heal the person, not just treat the disease. Health maintenance organizations are exploring the concept of “integrated management” for patients with chronic disorders like diabetes, asthma and arthritis. The most enlightened are beginning to realize that merely treating people with suppressive drugs is not cost-effective; they need to help people change their diets, their environments, their exercise patterns, and their attitudes. Experts on the problems of ageing have concluded that the health of elderly Americans will benefit more from measures that improve physical strength, immune function, mood and social interaction than by the medical treatment of those diseases which ravage the elderly. Alarmed at the rising global childhood mortality rate, the World Health Organization has concluded that treating each life-threatening disease as a separate entity does not work. Nutritional therapies to improve immunity and environmental hygiene to limit exposure to infections and to toxins can accomplish more.

We are on the brink of a revolution in health care which is being driven not by technology but by the recognition that healing people is more effective than treating diseases. The table below illustrates the evolution of these discoveries.

Note from Dr. Galland

People often ask me how I came to reject the narrow confines of conventional medical practice. The answer is easy: its limited effectiveness, especially in treating people with chronic illness. I was educated and trained at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center and rapidly became disillusioned with the mythology of modern medicine. We were taught that the physician’s chief concern is the diagnosis and treatment of disease. I rapidly realized that patients heal themselves. Because conventional medicine ignores the healing process, it often leads doctors to use treatments that undermine healing instead of supporting it.

Conventional Western medicine is organized around the Theory of Diseases, which believes that a person becomes sick because he or she contracts a disease. In this model, each disease is seen as an independent entity which can be fully understood without regard to the person it afflicts or the environment in which it occurs. Conventional treatments are treatments of diseases, not of people. Most of the drugs employed in conventional medicine are designed to act as chemical straitjackets, preventing the cells of the body from performing some function that has become hyperactive. The side effects of these drugs are a direct extension of their actions and may be fatal. A Harvard research team concluded that 120,000 Americans are killed in hospitals by their doctors every year. Most of these deaths occur because doctors prescribe drugs without paying attention to the special characteristics of the person for whom the drugs are prescribed.

Two decades ago, I left a full-time academic career to establish a general practice in a small town in Connecticut. There I developed a habit which taught me more about patients than did eight years of schooling and residency training and five years of teaching. I began phoning patients whom I hadn’t seen for several months, to inquire about how they were feeling and what they were doing to take care of themselves. I was constantly impressed by the huge extent of individual differences in response to the same kind of treatment. I also realized that most of the accepted therapies for chronic ailments did little to improve the quality of a patient’s life or health.

Frustrated by the obvious limitations of conventional therapeutics, I explored alternative strategies, beginning with the study of nutrition, psychology, environmental health and therapeutic exercise. I was amazed to discover that so much of medical relevance within these disciplines was already known and published, yet so little had been incorporated into the practice of medicine. My effort to integrate these fields into health care led me back into training and research and eventually into a unique specialty that is patient-oriented, not disease-oriented. For the past fifteen years I have worked intensively with people who pose diagnostic dilemmas or are considered to be treatment failures. Most have seen numerous medical specialists and many have consulted a variety of alternative health practitioners. In attempting to help these patients, I moved beyond conventional notions of diagnosis and treatment to explore aspects of the patient’s lives which had previously been ignored: dietary, environmental, interpersonal, biomechanical. I gained new insight into the importance of the inner environment–the microbial ecology of the intestinal tract–in supporting or undermining health. In 1980, my colleagues and I founded an organization called the Academy of Integrated Medical Studies (AIMS) to pursue a new way of approaching the problems of our patients, integrating alternative healing strategies with conventional medical science.


Alternative Medical Systems, Ancient and Modern

Alternative systems of healing supply a perspective that can help to reverse the “one size fits all” philosophy of conventional medical practice. All alternative systems of healing, ancient or modern, share one common characteristic which separates them from conventional Western medicine. They all approach sickness as a dynamic event in the life of an individual, a problem of balance and relationship, the result of disharmony between the sick person and his or her environment. This approach to understanding illness is called biographical. In the biographical concept of illness, the “disease” itself has no independent reality. The healer’s job is not to identify and treat the disease entity, but to characterize the disharmonies of each particular case, so that they can be corrected. These disharmonies are described differently in different cultures. The language which describes them may be magical or naturalistic, but the diagnostic and therapeutic focus is always on the person who is ill and the context in which the illness occurs, rather than on the disease itself.

Integrated Medicine embraces the best of conventional and alternative approaches, but is more than just a mixture of therapeutic techniques. To integrate is to make whole, and the distinctive feature of Integrated Medicine is its application of science to prevent or treat disease by healing the person who is sick, rather than just treating the disease. Integrated Medicine perceives illness biographically and at the same time uses the powerful data-base of modern biological and behavioral science to help describe the varied disharmonies which undermine the health of each individual. These disturbances originate, almost entirely, with dietary, environmental or social conditions. Although the media are full of stories about “cancer genes”, for example, the scientific evidence is that almost all cancer is environmentally induced. When identical twins are reared in separate environments, the rate at which each twin develops cancer is comparable to the cancer rate in the adoptive family, not the biological family. The publicity accorded to “cancer genes” serves to cripple individual and social initiatives at cancer prevention and to displace scrutiny from cancer’s environmental and dietary triggers. Integrated Medicine exists to empower people to improve their health by improving their four pillars of healing: interpersonal relationships, diet and lifestyle, environment, and the innate system of detoxification and repair.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine is to improve health care by integrating advances in nutritional, environmental and behavioral science into clinical practice, professional training and public education. Our aim is to empower consumers and health care professionals in the use of integrated medicine for the effective prevention and treatment of illness and to achieve well-being and longevity.