On the Front Lines

with John Weeks

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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 »

Breast Cancer Joins Pain as Conditions with Dominant School Endorsement of Integrative Strategies

The movement of medicine toward an integrative model took an important step in early June. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) endorsed a clinical practice guideline for integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. The endorsement was published on June 11, 2018 in ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology as “Integrative Therapies During and After Breast Cancer Treatment: ASCO Endorsement of the SIO Clinical Practice Guideline.” That guideline, with a few added discussion points, has beenpublished in 2017 by the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO). According to one major cancer center, ASCO’s move “sent a clear signal to breast cancer patients and their care teams:

Read More »

Chronology of Integrative Health Inclusion in Federal Policy, by John Weeks

Front-Lines for Integrative Health, by columnist John Weeks | Note to Today’s Practitioner readers: You are doing the clinical work. Shifting the medical industry toward a system focused on creating health also requires organizational, institutional, professional and policy action. Some of you so inclined and engaged. Others of you pay attention. In my new column for Today’s Practitioner I will report, celebrate and sometimes cajole relative to efforts at the convergence of integrative health and the dominant school of medicine – as I have been through the Integrator Blog, and elsewhere, over the past 25 years. More on my background is

Read More »

Who is John Weeks?

John Weeks is a writer, speaker, chronicler and organizer whose work in the movement for integrative health and medicine began in 1983. He is publisher-editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports, which since 1995 – in various prior forms – has created primary connective terrain for the diverse stakeholders and professions in the field. He is a new contributor to Today’s Practitioner and contributes a regular column to Integrative Insights at Integrative Practitioner, a column for Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, and regular blogs for the Altarum Institute, the Huffington Post and elsewhere. In May 2016,  he accepted an invitation to serve as the editor-in-chief

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 »

Breast Cancer Joins Pain as Conditions with Dominant School Endorsement of Integrative Strategies

The movement of medicine toward an integrative model took an important step in early June. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) endorsed a clinical practice guideline for integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. The endorsement was published on June 11, 2018 in ASCO’s Journal of Clinical Oncology as “Integrative Therapies During and After Breast Cancer Treatment: ASCO Endorsement of the SIO Clinical Practice Guideline.” That guideline, with a few added discussion points, has beenpublished in 2017 by the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO). According to one major cancer center, ASCO’s move “sent a clear signal to breast cancer patients and their care teams:

Read More »

Chronology of Integrative Health Inclusion in Federal Policy, by John Weeks

Front-Lines for Integrative Health, by columnist John Weeks | Note to Today’s Practitioner readers: You are doing the clinical work. Shifting the medical industry toward a system focused on creating health also requires organizational, institutional, professional and policy action. Some of you so inclined and engaged. Others of you pay attention. In my new column for Today’s Practitioner I will report, celebrate and sometimes cajole relative to efforts at the convergence of integrative health and the dominant school of medicine – as I have been through the Integrator Blog, and elsewhere, over the past 25 years. More on my background is

Read More »

Who is John Weeks?

John Weeks is a writer, speaker, chronicler and organizer whose work in the movement for integrative health and medicine began in 1983. He is publisher-editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports, which since 1995 – in various prior forms – has created primary connective terrain for the diverse stakeholders and professions in the field. He is a new contributor to Today’s Practitioner and contributes a regular column to Integrative Insights at Integrative Practitioner, a column for Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, and regular blogs for the Altarum Institute, the Huffington Post and elsewhere. In May 2016,  he accepted an invitation to serve as the editor-in-chief

Read More »