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Health and Well-being Together


A Commons Health framework s intrinsically systems oriented. It's success is dependent on the alignment of  systems models at the individual, community and planetary level.  For this framework to be successful, systems oriented health professionals will be essential.

In many respects, we are re-learning ancient wisdom about health and being well together. Across the globe we are discovering that most indigenous cultures have no word for individual health and that the word health is a function of community and the environment. The individual cannot be separated from the whole. It is a systems, or a relational model.


Integrative health and medicine is by its very nature holistic, through its recognition of the interplay between mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Moreover, integrative medicine has developed a deserved reputation for a focus on resiliency and roots causes, upstream drivers of health outcomes. In other words, or relationship to community and our environment. Research reveals that immediate and significant health benefits and cost savings can be realized throughout our healthcare system by utilizing three key integrative strategies:


  • Integrative lifestyle change programs for those with chronic disease

  • Integrative interventions for people experiencing depression

  • Integrative preventive strategies to support wellness in all populations


Importantly, integrative health and medicine embraces a philosophy that love and compassion are some of the greatest healers. This principle is an important foundation and reminder as we work to address health equity.

Physicians at ABIHM Booth
While the ecological health benefits of integrative approaches have not yet been fully documented, we can appreciate that these preventive approaches might demonstrate other important benefits — a reduction in climate impacts associated with a reduction in energy intensive medical care, or reductions of pharmaceutical discharge to water ways and other medical waste reduction achieved through lifestyle rather than pharmacological treatment approaches.
Communities and patients will be served by approaches that work to prevent disease, and that recognize the role of health disparities and other social factors in the disease process. An understanding of a patient’s social-cultural history, nutritional, and community environments is essential.
Studies show that people with greater social ties live longer than those with fewer social ties. The support and love that comes from community is part of what integrative medicine calls an “optimal healing environment,” which is defined as a system and place comprised of people, behaviors, treatments, and their psychological and physical parameters.
Providers need support, training and other skills that integrate the patients and community in ways that have not yet been fully appreciated in healthcare, such as community activism. Inherent in a preventive approach are team-based models of practice that draw on the skill sets, capacities and knowledge of clinical and non-clinical staff. In a commons health care, these teams will be comprised of systems-minded individuals, working at the intersection of community, environments, and healthcare.

Selected Integrative Practice Resources


  • The Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM) is a global, interprofessional, member organization that educates and trains clinicians in integrative health and medicine to assure exemplary health care. AIHM offers an interdisciplinary integrative fellowship.

  • The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health - Committed to sharing information and ideas, meeting challenges together in a process grounded by the values of integrative medicine, supporting member institutions, and providing a national voice for the advancement of integrative principles.

  • Bravewell Collaborative - a community of leading philanthropists who work together to transform our health care system and improve the health of the American public through the advancement of integrative medicine.