Integrative versus integral medicine with Matt Dorsey

What role do Spiral Dynamics and Integral Metatheory have to play in understanding the current state of ‘integrative medicine’?  How do modern and post-modern perspectives about medicine clash, and what role might Integralists play in the future of medicine?


Western medicine has developed incredibly during the last century. Diagnostics get better and better, thanks to modern technology and for every imaginable illness there seems to be a chemical drug which will resolve the problem. The success story of western medicine often misleads our perception and our judgement on treatments which could be more helpful and less damaging than pharmaceutical drugs.


The triumph of modern medicine, especially surgery techniques, has saved many lives, increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality, no doubt. On the other hand, a human being increasingly was seen as a heap of organs where specialists use their knowledge on, but the whole being, the system which constitutes our body, mind and spirit, was less and less seen and considered. So illnesses are treated, but not people cured from their illnesses. Seems paradoxical, but whoever has been a patient in a hospital knows exactly what I am talking about: it is about treating the illness. The person having the illness is hardly seen with her needs, her feelings, her fears and his desire to know what exactly is going on and why and how they are treated this way. The patient has to be patient and follow the orders of the gods in white, the doctors. That’s how conventional medicine is working out in our western world. Other treatments, alternative medicine like homeopathy etc. are considered a scam because the healing principle of these disciplines don’t fit the dominant scientific belief system.

In my conversation with Matt Dorsey we talk about the levels of development which govern the mindsets of people, medical doctors and alternative practitioners included. We talk about the limits of both approaches, as well as those of the so called integrative medicine, which is located mainly in a mindset still based on the orange and green level.

We also talk about the lack of seeing illness from all 4 quadrants, traditional medicine trying to reduce everything to the upper right quadrant – albeit even there not considering factors like subtle energies etc.. Alternative medicine is grounded on the Upper left quadrant and fights against the upper right quadrant. Integral medicine would consider all four quadrants and avoid the trap to consider one of them as “real” and the others as scam, or at least negligible.
There are dedicated practitioners on their way, but there is still a lot to do until people even realise that health and healing doesn’t mean taking a bunch of medicines by following the orders of a patronising medical doctor. The human body is a miracle. Science is discovering more and more, Quantum physics, epigenetics etc. Until these new insights come to public awareness – and to the curriculum in Universities – it will still take a long time, and much unnecessary suffering and even deaths, caused by ignorance and rigid belief systems.

A shout out to all courageous health practitioners who dedicate their lives to open-mindedly explore better ways to help people in their struggles with imbalances in their lives.


In order to paint a picture of how we may unite Science and Spirituality, in order to bring Medicine into the 21st and 22nd centuries, let’s take a deep dive into the dances of paradigmatic conflict which are currently tempting so many of us to throw the baby out with the bathwater in an effort to rise above the polemics and absurdity at whatever cost.

The Orange Meme [AKA modernity, AKA scientific materialism] has committed the capital offense of attempting to reduce all of human experience, its rich search for meaning, its artistic conceptualizations of the transcendent dimensions, and all the other nebulous, fuzzy, messy, qualia of our world to those entities which can be fully measured, namely matter and energy. This has been called Science’s colonization of art and morals by philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Ken Wilber, of course, calls it ‘Flatland’.

Reductionism was scientific materialism’s attempt to become the new ultimate arbiter of truth, replacing the church [Blue Meme, AKA pre-modernity], which was of course classically its tormentor but also its progenitor. Consider the fate of scientists whose theories or discoveries about the natural world conflicted with any of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Now enter the Green Meme [AKA post-modernity], which—with its emphasis on holism, equality, eco-responsibility, and good old-fashioned FEELINGS—makes Orange’s materialistic, hyper-rational, measurement-obsessed way of being seem downright nihilistic.

In Terence McKenna-speak, Green is also the stage of the archaic revival. It’s all about rediscovering all the treasures which we left behind at much earlier stages: indigenous wisdom, holistic healing techniques, and a general sense of belonging to a tribe. Green, being world-centric, however, strives to perceive all of humanity as a single tribe.

Because each stage / meme is a direct result of the disaster that the previous stage caused in the latter portion of its manifestation, it tends toward reactivity against it. Hence, Green thinking is highly critical of the ways in which Orange activities have polluted the planet, dehumanized us by turning humans into “human resources”. The unmitigated madness of capitalism run amok. The dark abyss of militant atheism. You get the picture.

The filthiest of bathwater, no doubt. But is Green in danger of throwing the baby out too? After all, Orange gave us the scientific method. It didn’t do a great job, however, of telling us how to apply it in the wisest, kindest way that truly benefits the most people. That’s the realm of ethics, religion, ecology, and spirituality. Ethics is something which cannot be reduced to particles and waveforms. There are no machines which collide moral theories together in an attempt to view their smallest constituents. Of course, Orange was an ethical quantum leap from Blue, but nevertheless is insufficient in its perspective to fix its own problems.
That notwithstanding, rational, empirical thinking is critical. The scientific method has changed everything and enabled a level of comprehension and mastery over the physical world that nobody in 500 years ago could have dreamed of. It has also given us many improvements in medicine as we have used its powerful techniques to more deeply probe the intricate machinery of our biological substrate, while also of course giving us new diseases that arise from our disconnection from nature and the disruption of our biochemistry with new compounds which it does not know how to deal.

Because Green tends to be so reactionary against Orange, Green post-modern thinkers have unconsciously attempted to use Orange’s weapons of reductionism against it. Fighting fire with fire, these thinkers tend to view all of science as socially constructed. They have, in true human fashion, uncovered another’s blindspot while simultaneously overlooking their own.

They have an excellent point, however. Scientists tend to get caught up so much in the whats and hows, that they tend to neglect the whys. ‘Because profit is good’ is no longer an acceptable why in a world that is burning, says the Green revolution, and rightfully so.

In its shadow aspect, Orange is nothing short of an epic nightmare that threatens all life on the planet, but if we refuse to integrate and honor the accomplishments of science and its corresponding level of cultural development, we may eschew all of its gifts and leave ourselves open to believing nearly anything. This can only prevent us from taking effective action in the remediation of the problems that Orange has created.

Do all forms of medicine need to be fully elucidated scientifically in order to be valid? According to Orange scientific materialist thinking, yes. Medicine is the domain of the physical body, which is the domain of science and science alone. According to more extreme manifestations of Green, all beliefs are equally true because all cultures are equal. Because Green can also eschew modern scientific thinking, it may prefer healing modalities which are more exotic, indigenous, and holistic in nature. Orange abhors this, because it sees this tendency as regressive.

They both have points. Orange in its negative manifestation is too pompous to admit that any kind of healing modality which was created before the existence of the scientific method may be valid, and also tends to overestimate its understanding of the physical world to the extent that it ignores the advances that it has yet to make, which may only be made in another fifty, hundred, or even five hundred years, regarding biochemistry and biophysics.

It looks down at ancient or indigenous medicines from atop its tower of sophistication and cold, unassailable rationality, at what it considers to be relics of the past which it has made irrelevant with its revolution in human thinking and epistemology. BUT some of the tendencies of Green may in fact be highly regressive if Green cannot learn to integrate and value Orange’s greatest contributions. Scientific exploration of ancient healing modalities could theoretically enhance our understanding of their physical mechanisms of action and applicability to disease.

In an ideal world of perfect scientific objectivity, where the application of science is somehow not culturally embedded [as Green thinkers have so wisely pointed out], we would simply apply the scientific method to each ancient, pre-scientific system of medicine and then figure out which ones are helpful and which ones aren’t, and how they each work. Then we can deconstruct them physically to isolate the parts that are effective and get rid of anything that’s not.

But as the Orange machine deconstructs each of these indigenous and ancient systems, won’t it then naturally take them and incorporate them into its value system? Where there’s efficacy, there’s profitability.

Welcome to the central topic of this essay: “Integrative” Medicine as Orange Medical Colonialism versus Green reactive irrationality, and the need for Integral solutions. It took us a bit, but we finally got here.

Just as it’s not a great idea for us to allow every practice that Green has found from around the world to be immediately welcomed as a perfectly valid medical tool, it’s also a terrible idea for us to let Orange scan the world for techniques to tinker with, alter, and then co-opt into its planetary suicide machine.
Cultural co-opting and colonialism are popular topics in the Green intellectual circuits. Looking from a truly higher perspective, they have catalogued the ways in which the dominator system likes to steal. It’s stolen from and co-opted all of the less technologically developed cultures it’s come into contact with. It can’t help but turn everything it sees into a commodity. Rather than actual invasion, it extends itself into new territories and then makes those territories and then converts everything there into a commodity or a customer.

It’s clear to the levels of Green and higher that Orange thinking is massively toxic in certain key ways. It’s philosophically impoverished. It tends toward meaninglessness. It seeks to dominate and control nature. Rightfully so, Green does not tolerate the anti-Gaian pathologies of negative Orange which threaten all life on the planet. Green is pissed at Orange because it can see just how insane it is in its negative aspect.

I would argue that healthy Green could figure out a way to apply the scientific method in a way that honors the uniqueness of each traditional form of medicine, and also serves humanity, not allowing it to be co-opted by the economics of Orange, but perhaps this is more suited to Yellow.
Healthy Orange could potentially have enough intellectual honesty to admit the limitations of its current instrumentation, and that it cannot explain everything that is real. The temptation with unconscious scientific materialism, however, is to label things which it cannot explain as “unreal”, rather than questioning the current models and instrumentation.

Many materialist scientists are uncomfortable with the idea of even studying things like the power of prayer or faith healing, because they have already made up their mind a priori that these phenomena are bullshit. The same kind of thinking would be highly problematic if the goal was to honestly explore a modality of medicine which employs language which it views as metaphysical or superstitious.

While we have multiple kinds of bias that we must do our best to eliminate from the realm of acceptable science, such as measurement bias, selection bias, publication bias, etc., what about the inherent bias of one’s center of memetic gravity?

Negative Orange is biased toward things which it can use for profit and to reinforce its worldview. This is another critical level of bias: cultural and economic bias. Biomedicine [AKA ‘Modern Medicine’] does not exist in a vacuum. It exists within an Orange economic framework which relies upon intellectual property laws that inadvertently decrease the profitability of that which cannot be patented. We’re talking about massive Lower Right quadrant effects on the perception of what is considered valid medicine.

This disproportionately funnels money into pharmaceutical research, for example. This is similar to a kind of publication bias, but instead of unpublished studies that aren’t being shared, it’s that the studies are never being done to begin with because there isn’t enough money to fund them. Without money, studies on herbs and nutrients, for example, have to be relatively small and cannot be done on the scale that would allow them to reach FDA approval as a drug.

So what happens when Orange gets ahold of an indigenous or ancient healing modality that shows efficacy? In the case of herbs, Orange takes what it considers to be the main active chemical constituent, then synthetically modifies it, making it patentable, and goes through the proper channels to get it approved as a drug.
Green, on the other hand, tends to reject biomedicine in that it is so put off by its densely Orange vibration, which tends to permeate clinics and hospitals, and its extensive use of toxic chemicals, and ignorance of holistic approaches, that it tends to avoid MDs at all costs, even when something may be critically wrong and they may need to see a physician for evaluation.

Considering that physicians typically expect themselves to be at the top of every hierarchy, which would place chiropractors, naturopaths, and acupuncturists below them in any system which attempts to integrate them; and that Green abhors hierarchies, how do we proceed?

When asked if I would ever work with medical doctors, my immediate knee-jerk reaction was that I would likely be looked down on and placed below them in the organization, and—not being willing to sacrifice my sovereignty and the necessary ability to communicate in an open, lateral fashion—I would not be interested.
Then, I thought, well…actually the answer is much simpler. If the physicians were all at Yellow or above, then I believe I absolutely would, because we would likely share the perspective necessary to develop a model that made sense.

0:00 Heidi’s intro

0:58 Matt Dorey introduces himself: “East-West-Practitioner”. His intention Bio-medicine and eastern medicine blending. 

2:45 Heidi’s experience with trying to find a different doctor. An example how medicine works in Italy.

4:15 Matt: “artificial systems isolation” 

5:30 What is integrative medicine – like “functional”: attempt to blend both medical modalities. A witch hunt of more holistic approaches. “If you are not an MD, you are not a doctor!”. New view arising, like Cleveland clinic. Challenges can be explained by Soiral dynamics and the quadrant model. 

7:50  “Medical colonialism”

8:30 Heidi: special interest causes change, which can be beneficial for the people. FUndamentalism on both parts is not good. Ideological fight.

9:50 Green altitude: people become reactionary against orange which is the basis of conventional medicine. Pros and cons.

11:10 The danger of being sued when a medical doctor applies different methodologies. The problem of doctors getting informed by the pharmaceutical industries. Only learn other things by personal interest and endeavors.

13:10 att works as an integrated professional in a pharmacy which is open to natural medicine. “I wouldn’t take most of this shit” says a fully trained pharmacologist.

15:20 You need to be informed what it is what you are opposing!

15:50 Matt sees himself as a bridge between these different camps. Scientific materialism is only a stage and not the final truth! It can be partly socially constructed.

17:15 Matt’s article.

18:00 Doctor program in chinese medicine. Would you work with integrative practitioners? Acupuncturers are at the bottom of the foodchain. With people in second tier co-laboration would be fantastic!. 

20:50 integrative medicine is mostly still orange dominated. The contradiction of who is allowed to tell their patients what to take. MD has excellent knowledge in UP quadrant. With a few courses they learn some practices and think they know now. Co-opting what the others train for years!

23:20 Integral medicine. Matt refers to John Dupuy (Interview at the Wisdom Factory). “Intergal is holistic with a map”. Integral is about cross training. Some ideas.

25:35 Heidi’s idea of what “integral medicine” is.

27:15 In an integral clinic: do all practitioners in integral awareness? Open mindedness is needed. The guidance, leadership needs to be integral. Dr. Galusky in Heiligenfeld/ Germany.

29:50 In integral you see what is good and bad in previous stages. Matt: Finding the right language for talking to orange people is essential. Strawmen argument of orange: “There is not enough research for herbs or supplements”.

32:20 Heidi on the breakthrough energies – which don’t have enough funding, too.

33:00 Side effects are seen more seriously in second tier, in orange rather overlooked and diminished. Drug abuse: illnesses created by pharmaceuticals.

34:55 Heidi’s story of her American husband who came with a whole bag of drugs.

36:00 A great business model: talk shortly with a doctor and get a prescription immediately.  Western Medicine addresses the symptoms, tries to suppress them, instead of going and look for the problems which create these symptoms. 

37:50  “etiotropic” = root cause medicine. Western medicine is primarily palliative, not etiotropic. Western medicine not only ignores the other 3 quadrants, but also “f**” up the upper right quadrant, especially in the life-style diseases

40:30 Where will Matt be in 5 years? CLinical side: nutrition and supplements. His dream to start a mission based supplements company. He wants to make contributions to integral, about how to teach other practitioners, do cross training. 

42:50 Heqalth and Healing in the integral community. INtegral nutrition in Germany: Dr. S en Werchan. Lynne Feldman and Lynn Fuentes

44:40 Problem with Woowoo stuff. Hot topics. Talking about it without becoming reactionary and working through the allergies.

46:15 The difference between opinions and experience.  Heidi’s story of the tick and the reaction of her doctor.  Arguments instead of belief systems.

50:00 Alternative practitioners need to know exactly what the side effects of drugs are to give the information to the clients. As opposed tom just dismiss everything of conventional medicine without explanation. Creating trust is important, competence is important  = transition to second tier.

52:30 The shadow of orange: scientific priesthood (Rupert Sheldrake: in “Science set free”) The doctors = “The Gods in white” Doctors who parent their patience. Maybe the right language for people in purple, red, blue.

55:40 The idea of an open discussion. Heidi’s intent to connect Matt with the practitioners she know

A call to the integral community to discuss and inform on health and healing. Research issues.

1:01:00 Wrapping up.. Acupuncture was accepted by insurance in Germany. On placebos.
Eastwestalchemist.com, nutrientdepletients.com


About Matt Dorsey

Matt Dorsey, BSc, MAcOM, LAc is a licensed acupuncturist, nutritionist, and natural medicine consultant who draws from his studies of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, Herbology, Clinical Nutrition, Psychology, Pharmacology, and Energy Medicine in his practice.

Describing himself as ‘medically multilingual’, he equally appreciates modern medical science and the more mystical, ecologically harmonic modalities which have come from our planet’s rich history of ancient healing traditions.

Eastwestalchemist.com, nutrientdepletients.com