On the Front Lines

with John Weeks

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Two Real World Illuminations of Patients’ Experience of Healing and Health

Organizations connected to two of the most significant researchers in the movement for integrative healing and health, Brian Berman, MD and Wayne Jonas, MD, held separate events recently to announce reports that offer insight into patients’ experience of healing and health. Samueli Integrative Health Programs, which Jonas directs, examined patient views of health in the context of their relationships with their primary care doctors. Berman’s Institute for Health and Healing – in collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine – dove deeply into selected patients’ perceptions of what their “healing journey”  to develop a model. Both examinations highlight processes not

Read More »

FDA Violates Core Principles in Removing Natural Agents from Compounding Pharmacists

The principle of using the least invasive methods first – a corollary of “first do no harm” – is central to integrative health and medicine. Also core is the idea of patient-centered, functionally-oriented outcomes. Each of these principles is being chucked out the window as the FDA is systematically removing multiple natural agents from an approved list for compounding pharmacists. This regulatory abuse emerged during an October 30, 2018 webinar from integrative practice attorney Alan Dumoff, JD, MSW. In the presentation, sponsored through the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA),  Dumoff informed UNPA members about a multi-year engagement to protect clinician

Read More »

Paradigm Shift? Harvard Medical School Considering Mission Reframe from Sickness Model to Health

On September 26, 2018, Harvard Medical School announced to its faculty that it is “reassessing” the School’s mission statement. An invitation to comment and provide feedback on a draft of a new mission was sent by microbiology and immunology professor Peter Howley, MD. Howley leads a committee for Medical School Dean George Daley, MD, PhD that is wrestling with a transformational theme that most unifies the diverse parties in the movement for integrative health and medicine. Harvard is bellying up toward reckoning with the need to shift the medical industry toward a system for creating health. The current HMS mission

Read More »

A Natural Partner: Integrative Health Advances at the American Congress for Rehabilitative Medicine

The evolution of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) began in the 1930s with a founding focus on a single emerging modality and now boasts a position as the largest multidisciplinary-centered rehabilitation organization in the country. ACRM was first a medical academy for x-ray therapy, broadened to more physical therapies, then focused in on physical medicine, and finally extended outward again to address both physical and psychological issues. Core disciplines are medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychology. The door is not shut. Anyone can join. Now a subset of the heterogeneous organization’s membership is casting a broader net.

Read More »

Inclusion Check-in: Are Integrative Practices in New Federal Opioid Legislation, National Academy, and FDA Activity?

One can easily count the chickens of non-pharmacological approaches highlighted in multiple organizational guidelines and state strategies related to pain and opioids. But one definitely cannot count on them hatching inside each new, significant policy initiative. Regular medicine tends to regress toward a non-inclusive mean in pain treatment. And “mean” may be the operative word – at least from the perspective of individuals who remain unaware of the integrative therapies and practitioners that may help them. This is an irregular Integrator look at the level of inclusion in recent major initiatives related to pain and opioids. To start, the federal

Read More »

Helene Langevin MD, CM to Provide New Integrative Leadership at NIH: What Can We Expect?

In early 2008, the leadership of the National Institutes of Health for the second time caused concern among many in the integrative health and medicine field by naming a director of what is the now National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) who had zero experience in the field the director was to oversee. Imagine a head of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute with no experience in any cardiology, pulmunology or hematology. The first was Stephen Straus, MD, a hard-line NIH lifer who never tried nor apparently was interested in experiencing any of the complementary or alternative

Read More »

Practice Drift: Osher Team Explores Risks of MDs Exceeding Scope in Integrative Practices

The movement from the wild-west of “alternative” medical practices into mainstream respect and inclusion is typically a process of standard-setting, self-regulation, and then governmental action. Two principals in the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine recently asked whether – with the chaotic and rapid expansion of the field — its time for integrative medical doctors, in particular, to consider additional, proactive steps. The recommendations touch on an integrative medical doctor’s responsibilities to patients, to self, to their still newly emerging field, and, interestingly, to complementary providers. The Osher Center leaders propose, perhaps most significantly, that it is time for the Federation

Read More »

Retraction Needed? JAMA Oncology’s Bum Science Suggests People Die Faster Using Complementary Medicine

The media had a feeding frenzy when a data-mining report from Yale researchers published in JAMA Oncology suggested a causal relationship between use of complementary medicine and shortened life span among cancer patients. A New York Times subheading was representative: “People who used herbs, acupuncture and other complementary treatments tended to die earlier than those who didn’t.” The appearance of this apparent death knell due to the “nostrums” as the Times writer called them – “herbs, vitamins, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, yoga, acupuncture and others” – had a fascinating timeliness. The publication of “Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Cancer Therapy, and Survival among Cancer Patients with Curable Cancers”

Read More »

Integrative Medicine Leader Tracy Gaudet and her “Aha!” Moments Driving the VA’s Cultural Transformation

In a recent presentation at a National Academy of Medicine workshop, Tracy Gaudet, MD, the founding director of the Veterans Administration’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, described how radically her team is approaching their work to create health in the veterans they serve. “We start with peer conversations between the veterans and their peers about what is important to them,” began Gaudet – who from 1995-2011 led integrative medicine programs at the flagship University of Arizona program founded by Andrew Weil, MD and then Duke Integrative Medicine, before being chosen to found the VA’s new office. She continued: “Then, circling out from that, we have

Read More »

Harvard’s Beth Frates, MD: Applying Prochaska’s Change Model to Advance Lifestyle Medicine in Institutions

Beth Frates, MD recalls her first effort, ten years ago, to give students at Harvard Medical School more grounding in lifestyle medicine: I met with my Dean and explained how I would bring [the material] to them. He was all enthusiastic. He told me he loved what I was doing. Then he said: ‘We can’t possibly do this right now.’” Frates’ excitement cycled high then hit the cellar. What explains this apparent paradox of verbal support and failure to act? “He was pre-contemplative,” says Frates. Frates’ use of the “pre-contemplative” attribute placed the Dean and the institution in the lowest

Read More »

Two Real World Illuminations of Patients’ Experience of Healing and Health

Organizations connected to two of the most significant researchers in the movement for integrative healing and health, Brian Berman, MD and Wayne Jonas, MD, held separate events recently to announce reports that offer insight into patients’ experience of healing and health. Samueli Integrative Health Programs, which Jonas directs, examined patient views of health in the context of their relationships with their primary care doctors. Berman’s Institute for Health and Healing – in collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine – dove deeply into selected patients’ perceptions of what their “healing journey”  to develop a model. Both examinations highlight processes not

Read More »

FDA Violates Core Principles in Removing Natural Agents from Compounding Pharmacists

The principle of using the least invasive methods first – a corollary of “first do no harm” – is central to integrative health and medicine. Also core is the idea of patient-centered, functionally-oriented outcomes. Each of these principles is being chucked out the window as the FDA is systematically removing multiple natural agents from an approved list for compounding pharmacists. This regulatory abuse emerged during an October 30, 2018 webinar from integrative practice attorney Alan Dumoff, JD, MSW. In the presentation, sponsored through the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA),  Dumoff informed UNPA members about a multi-year engagement to protect clinician

Read More »

Paradigm Shift? Harvard Medical School Considering Mission Reframe from Sickness Model to Health

On September 26, 2018, Harvard Medical School announced to its faculty that it is “reassessing” the School’s mission statement. An invitation to comment and provide feedback on a draft of a new mission was sent by microbiology and immunology professor Peter Howley, MD. Howley leads a committee for Medical School Dean George Daley, MD, PhD that is wrestling with a transformational theme that most unifies the diverse parties in the movement for integrative health and medicine. Harvard is bellying up toward reckoning with the need to shift the medical industry toward a system for creating health. The current HMS mission

Read More »

A Natural Partner: Integrative Health Advances at the American Congress for Rehabilitative Medicine

The evolution of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) began in the 1930s with a founding focus on a single emerging modality and now boasts a position as the largest multidisciplinary-centered rehabilitation organization in the country. ACRM was first a medical academy for x-ray therapy, broadened to more physical therapies, then focused in on physical medicine, and finally extended outward again to address both physical and psychological issues. Core disciplines are medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychology. The door is not shut. Anyone can join. Now a subset of the heterogeneous organization’s membership is casting a broader net.

Read More »

Inclusion Check-in: Are Integrative Practices in New Federal Opioid Legislation, National Academy, and FDA Activity?

One can easily count the chickens of non-pharmacological approaches highlighted in multiple organizational guidelines and state strategies related to pain and opioids. But one definitely cannot count on them hatching inside each new, significant policy initiative. Regular medicine tends to regress toward a non-inclusive mean in pain treatment. And “mean” may be the operative word – at least from the perspective of individuals who remain unaware of the integrative therapies and practitioners that may help them. This is an irregular Integrator look at the level of inclusion in recent major initiatives related to pain and opioids. To start, the federal

Read More »

Helene Langevin MD, CM to Provide New Integrative Leadership at NIH: What Can We Expect?

In early 2008, the leadership of the National Institutes of Health for the second time caused concern among many in the integrative health and medicine field by naming a director of what is the now National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) who had zero experience in the field the director was to oversee. Imagine a head of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute with no experience in any cardiology, pulmunology or hematology. The first was Stephen Straus, MD, a hard-line NIH lifer who never tried nor apparently was interested in experiencing any of the complementary or alternative

Read More »

Practice Drift: Osher Team Explores Risks of MDs Exceeding Scope in Integrative Practices

The movement from the wild-west of “alternative” medical practices into mainstream respect and inclusion is typically a process of standard-setting, self-regulation, and then governmental action. Two principals in the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine recently asked whether – with the chaotic and rapid expansion of the field — its time for integrative medical doctors, in particular, to consider additional, proactive steps. The recommendations touch on an integrative medical doctor’s responsibilities to patients, to self, to their still newly emerging field, and, interestingly, to complementary providers. The Osher Center leaders propose, perhaps most significantly, that it is time for the Federation

Read More »

Retraction Needed? JAMA Oncology’s Bum Science Suggests People Die Faster Using Complementary Medicine

The media had a feeding frenzy when a data-mining report from Yale researchers published in JAMA Oncology suggested a causal relationship between use of complementary medicine and shortened life span among cancer patients. A New York Times subheading was representative: “People who used herbs, acupuncture and other complementary treatments tended to die earlier than those who didn’t.” The appearance of this apparent death knell due to the “nostrums” as the Times writer called them – “herbs, vitamins, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, yoga, acupuncture and others” – had a fascinating timeliness. The publication of “Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Cancer Therapy, and Survival among Cancer Patients with Curable Cancers”

Read More »

Integrative Medicine Leader Tracy Gaudet and her “Aha!” Moments Driving the VA’s Cultural Transformation

In a recent presentation at a National Academy of Medicine workshop, Tracy Gaudet, MD, the founding director of the Veterans Administration’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, described how radically her team is approaching their work to create health in the veterans they serve. “We start with peer conversations between the veterans and their peers about what is important to them,” began Gaudet – who from 1995-2011 led integrative medicine programs at the flagship University of Arizona program founded by Andrew Weil, MD and then Duke Integrative Medicine, before being chosen to found the VA’s new office. She continued: “Then, circling out from that, we have

Read More »

Harvard’s Beth Frates, MD: Applying Prochaska’s Change Model to Advance Lifestyle Medicine in Institutions

Beth Frates, MD recalls her first effort, ten years ago, to give students at Harvard Medical School more grounding in lifestyle medicine: I met with my Dean and explained how I would bring [the material] to them. He was all enthusiastic. He told me he loved what I was doing. Then he said: ‘We can’t possibly do this right now.’” Frates’ excitement cycled high then hit the cellar. What explains this apparent paradox of verbal support and failure to act? “He was pre-contemplative,” says Frates. Frates’ use of the “pre-contemplative” attribute placed the Dean and the institution in the lowest

Read More »