Vision, Mission & History
The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine is advancing holistic integrative health globally.
Mind – body – spirit – community and planet.
A global, interprofessional association of health professionals and organizations dedicated to integrative health and to transforming our health systems globally to include traditional, complementary and integrative health in universal healthcare for all.
We are dedicated to engaging a global community of health professionals and health seekers in integrative education, leadership, interprofessional collaboration, research and advocacy that embraces all global healing traditions, to promote the creation of health and the delivery of evidence-informed comprehensive, person-centered care to all healthcare systems around the world.
We envision a world where humanity and the planet are healthy.
We, too, have a dream.
Where healthcare is about health and available to all.
Where prevention is our foundation and mechanical fixes are embraced when we need them.
Where all healthcare providers work collaboratively to heal body, mind and spirit.
Where sustainability is integrated into our culture, practice and training.
Working together to establish a new paradigm of health care for humanity and the planet.
We are the solution.
Why choose Integrative Health over Integrative Medicine? Why our language is important.
Integrative Health is a patient centered approach that is inclusive of all medical professions including conventional medicine, holistic medicine, integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine, holistic nursing, acupuncture and asian medicine, chiropractic medicine, and other global healing traditions and natural approaches such as Ayurveda, Yoga and Homeopathy. While medicine is often an exclusive term, only referring to medical doctors, health is not only inclusive, but defines an approach that rather than a disease-focused model, is instead a wellness and prevention model.
Integrative Health also includes not only our individual selves, but our community, our environment and our planet. To foster that inclusivity, we recommend using the term integrative health whenever possible to ensure inclusion of all professions as well as inclusion of all aspects of self – body, mind, spirit, community and planet. We also advocate for the use of the global definitions of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (TCIM) defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) which is also inclusive and respectful of all global healing traditions.
In 1977, a group of visionary physicians, including C.Norman Shealy, Gladys Taylor McGarey, Bill McGarey, Gerald Looney, and Evarts Loomis gathered at Meadowlark in Hemet California to lay the foundation for the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA). Norm Shealy became the first president of the AHMA and in 1978 the first meeting of the AHMA was held in Denver, Co. At the 1980 AHMA conference, Norm and his wife Chardy met Charlotte McGuire RN and encouraged her to start a holistic nursing association. In 1981, Charlotte held the first national meeting of the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Over the next four decades, pioneers within AHMA and AHNA moved forward holistic medicine and holistic nursing.
At the same time, the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) was working alongside AHMA developing certification for physicians. Concurrently, other health professions, primarily naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and chiropractic medicine continued to evolve and grow.
In 2013, leaders from AHMA and ABIHM came together with other leaders in integrative health to form the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine (AIHM). AIHM emerged as a solution to our growing health care crisis by bringing for the first time in history, all of the holistic and integrative health professions together under one organization – holistic medical doctors, holistic nurses, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists and many more professions.
The formation of AIHM is a bold response to a call to action for change — to transform the way we think about health and health care. The Academy is home to a broadening international community of healthcare practitioners, health seekers, and advocates connected by a shared holistic philosophy of person-centered care. The AIHM community recognizes the link between our health and the state of the planet and deeply considers the social determinants of health and the quality of our relationships to ourselves, one another and our planet. Read a published version of the history of integrative medicine.
AIHM Core Values
The Healing Power of Love – Holistic health care practitioners strive to meet the patient with grace, kindness, acceptance and spirit without condition, as love is life’s most powerful healer.
Optimal Health – Optimal Health is the primary goal of holistic practice. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest level of functioning and balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of human experience, resulting in a dynamic state of being fully alive. This creates a condition of well-being regardless of the presence or absence of disease.
Whole Person – Holistic health care practitioners view people as the unity of body, mind, spirit and the systems in which they live.
Prevention and Treatment – Holistic health care practitioners promote health, prevent illness and help raise awareness of dis-ease in our lives rather than merely managing symptoms. A holistic approach relieves symptoms, modifies contributing factors and enhances the patient’s life system to optimize future well-being.
Innate Healing Power – All people have innate powers of healing in their bodies, minds and spirits. Holistic health care practitioners evoke and help patients utilize these powers to affect the healing process.
Integration of Healing Systems – Holistic health care practitioners embrace a lifetime of learning about all safe and effective options in diagnosis and treatment. These options come from a variety of traditions, and are selected in order to best meet the unique needs of the patient. The realm of choices may include lifestyle modification and complementary approaches, as well as conventional drugs and surgery.
Relationship-centered Care – The ideal practitioner-patient relationship is a partnership which encourages patient autonomy, and values the needs and insights of both parties. The quality of this relationship is an essential contributor to the healing process.
Individuality – Holistic health care practitioners focus patient care on the unique needs and nature of the person who has an illness rather than the illness that has the person.
Teaching by Example – Holistic health care practitioners continually work toward the personal incorporation of the principles of holistic health, which then profoundly influence the quality of the healing relationship.
Learning Opportunities – All life experiences including birth, joy, suffering and the dying process are profound learning opportunities for both patients and health care practitioners.
adopted from values developed by the AHMA