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Category Archives: Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine: Emerging Careers – NorthEast Today

Posted: March 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm

February Edition, Career, NET Bureau

Traditional medical systems of the East, veiled in mystery until recently are now gaining acceptance as an alternative line of treatment and are being integrated into mainstream healthcare as complementary systems. While traditional medicine cannot replace modern medicine, certain alternative systems focusing on overall health and wellbeing have shown remarkable results in chronic illnesses like diabetes, leucoderma, cancer as well as hard to cure diseases like arthritis, asthma and even AIDS.

Traditional medical systems of the East, veiled in mystery until recently are now gaining acceptance as an alternative line of treatment and are being integrated into mainstream healthcare as complementary systems. While traditional medicine cannot replace modern medicine, certain alternative systems focusing on overall health and wellbeing have shown remarkable results in chronic illnesses like diabetes, leucoderma, cancer as well as hard to cure diseases like arthritis, asthma and even AIDS.

Alternative Medicine is an umbrella term that includes a variety of Indian and Eastern healing systems including Yoga, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, Tibetan medicine and Reiki.

In a developing country like India, alternative medicine plays a key role in alleviating sickness. Cost-effectiveness, efficacy, low toxicity, ease of administration and relative safety renders them invaluable as viable alternatives to conventional medicine. Home to over 15,000 medicinal plants, and one of the 12 leading bio-diverse countries of the world, India is awakening to this tremendous potential, with huge impetus by the government. The newly formed Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, named AYUSH, is an example, with the government giving an official push to develop, educate and research traditional medicine.

Alternative Medicine: Education & Opportunities

The minimum qualification for most courses in traditional medicine is 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. However, for Unani, Siddha and Tibet an medicine, arts and humanities students can also apply. Additionally, for pursuing a course in Ayurveda, you need to be well versed in Sanskrit or Hindi, while for Unani, some knowledge of Arabic or Urdu is a must. Similarly for studying the Siddha system you need knowledge of Tamil. To make your mark in this field you need to have an in-depth knowledge about the subject as well as working knowledge of modern medicine and diagnostic procedures. As they are complementary systems, a thorough understanding of latest developments and research activities in both fields is a prerequisite.

Alternative systems of medicine are beginning to offer decent career opportunities in research as well as in practice. While private practice is a popular choice, homeopathic and Ayurvedic practitioners can also seek employment under Central government, state government, municipal hospitals and dispensaries all over the country. Combining two or more of these complimentary systems can also add to your repertoire. Drug and pharmaceutical companies and research institutions also hire consultants and research scientists to work in their respective fields. With several recognised institutions offering full-fledged courses of study, there is considerable opportunity in the academic sector as well.

Full-fledged bachelor and masters degrees in traditional medicine BAMS for Ayurveda, BHMS for Homeopathy, BUMS for Unani, BNYS for Naturopathy & Yoga are offered at more than 200 specialised medical colleges all over the country.

Some popular courses in India

Yoga: More than 30 Indian universities have established Departments of Yoga to impart education ranging from certificate, diploma, degree, post doctoral and teachers training programmes.

Ayurveda: Meaning the science of life, Ayurveda aims at healing the individual as a whole and is based on the theory that everything is composed of the panchamahabhutas, or the five basic elements akaash, jal, vayu, agni and dharti. Bachelors in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery is a full time degree course and is offered in institutions like the upcoming North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy, Shillong and the Government Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Guwahati.

Homoeopathy: Homeopathy enjoys wide acceptability with its low cost of medication, ease of administration and absence of toxic side effects. In India there are over 1.5 lakh qualified homeopaths. Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery is a full time degree course and is offered in institutions like North East Homoeopathic Medical College, Itanagar etc.

Unani: Unani medicine is based on humoral theory (relating to four bodily fluids) with each humor leading to a specific temperament in a human being. The system makes use of plants, minerals and animal products as curative agents to re-establish the persons original humoral constitution. Bachelors in Unani Medical Science is a full degree course offered at more than 10 universities.

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Alternative medicine – Tempo

Posted: at 1:55 pm

According to teen.ink.com, alternative medicine has been around since ancient times. It is as old as the hills, so to speak.

In ancient times, alternative medicine was used by both animals and humans. Critics, however, maintain a quizzical attitude towards it, saying it is unproven, unscientific.

Website ukessay.com says alternative medicine has no side effects, its price is not expensive compared to mainstream medicine. Which makes it affordable to ordinary people.

Generally used natural substances without any hazardous and chemicals or carbon polluting energy ingredients.

Substances or ingredients are readily available where people can even grow some of the medicine on their own, which means they can keep control of the whole process.

The approach of alternative medicine to whole body healing and treatment of the underlying causes of diseases and conditions looks at the entire person as opposed to just symptoms. This approach can improve an individuals overall health and quality of life.

People stick to this for its advantages and believe that it is more effective.

From Wikepedia.com, the kinds of alternative treatment:

Massage Therapy relieves temporary pain and increases circulation.

Chiropractic relieves back, joint pain and mitigates some chronic headaches.

Neti pot can help relieve symptoms of allergies, sinus infections and colds.

Aromatherapy creates better mental and physical health. It uses herbal oils and flowers it is applied to the skin through massage or in a warm bath.

Acupuncture uses needles in ones body in specific places to stimulate nerves.

Color therapy is an alternative medical practice that purports to balance energy within the body.

Herbal supplements parts of a plant are broken down and used for their scent, flavor and therapeutic benefits.

According to ukessay.com, the problem with alternative medicines is that it takes time to cure ailments using herbal medicines, unable to treat serious or sudden illness or injury, improper usage may cause adverse effect on body and risk of overdose. Nothings wrong to try this as long as we all know the precautionary or the limitation measures of using this.

The best advice before practicing any method or treatment is to seek the advice of the doctors or physician through this way you can balance both modern medicine and practical way at the same time.

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TRIVIA PA MORE (Various Sources): The only lizard that has a voice is the Gecko.

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The only married couple to flew together in space were Jan Davis and Mark Lee, who flew aboard the Endeavor space shuttle from Sept 12-20, 1992.

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The only one of his sculptures that Michelangelo signed was the The Pieta, completed in 1500.

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The only part of the human body that has no blood supply is the cornea in the eye. It takes in oxygen directly from the air.

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The only repealed amendment to the US Constitution deals with the prohibition of alcohol.

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The only river that flows both north and south of the equator is the Congo. It crosses the equator twice.

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Send your questions on anything and everything to Kuya Kim through my Twitter account @kuyakim_atienza using #AlaminKayKuyaKim.

Ating tuklasin ang mga bagay-bagay na di nyo pa alam. Walang di susuungin, lahat aalamin. Ito po si Kuya Kim, Matanglawin, only here in Tempo. (KIM ATIENZA)

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When to seek out alternative medicineand when to go mainstream – Well+Good

Posted: March 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

Photo: Stocksy/Aubrie Legault

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Western medicine and alternative healing are kind of like leggings and leather jacketsat one point itwas rare to see them pairedtogether,butnow theyre considered to bea pretty perfect match.

For proof, just take a stroll through any major US hospital. Therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga, which were unheard of many years ago, are now commonly offered to patients while receiving cardiac, oncology, and fertility treatments, to name but a few, says Nada Milosavljevic, MD, a board-certified physician, faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and founder of Sage Tonic,which createswellness tool boxes for common medical maladies.

So how do you know whether your headaches merit an herbal tincture or an Rx for Imatrex? The short answer: Its really complicated.

That said, not all alt-therapies have attained BFF status with their conventional counterparts. (You wont find many shamanic healing ceremonies going down in the ICU.) Plus, theres still some debate in the medical community around when its appropriate to seek out alternative treatments and when traditional interventions are best.

So how do you know whether your headaches merit an herbal tincture or an Rx for Imatrex?

The short answer: Its really complicated. But while every practitioner has her own opinion on the topic, there are some guidelines that all docs and holistic healers can agree upon.

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On the more traditionaltip, some doctors insist that if youre seeking out a complementary therapy, its crucial to consult with themeven if its something as seemingly harmless as yogato quell anxiety.

Its important to have an evaluation and discuss treatment options with a health care provider to make sure you receive the best care possible, says Wendy Weber, ND, PhD, a branch chief of clinical research at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Once you have a clear diagnosis, then you can explore what treatments are best for you with your providers.

While many herbs are safe to use, theres always the potential for them to interact with medications the patient may currently take.

Other docs, however, say super-low-risk modalities usuallydont require their sign-off. For a mild condition like day-to-day stress, trying meditation or acupressure might be fine, says Dr. Milosavljevic.

One things for sure: If youre taking medication, you should definitely talk to your doctorbefore adding anything ingestible to your treatment regimen. Lets say a patient is on several medications and is interested in trying an herbal treatment, says Dr. Milosavljevic. While many herbs are safe to use, theres always the potential for them to interact with medications the patient may currently take.

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Some doctors wont wholeheartedly recommend a holistic therapy unless it has a librarys worth of evidence behind it for the specific condition in question. But that kind of heavyresearch isnt always readily available in the world of alt-health.

For example, the NCCIH claims research is too limited to proveacupuncture is avalidfix for anxiety, even though just about anyone in the Chinese medicine world would call foul on that logic. Meanwhile, the same organization has given acupuncture the thumbs-up for treating back pain, since extensive research has proven it works.

Holistic practitioners also take science into consideration, of coursebut their practices have often been tested and confirmed over centuries. For many, thats proof enough of their crafts legitimacy (even if mountains of data arent there).

Holistic practitioners also take science into consideration, of coursebut their practices have often been tested and confirmed over centuries.

Take that acupuncture example, for instance. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, acupuncture can help with everything, says Ro Giuliano, an acupuncturist and herbalist at Brooklyns Maha Rose Center for Healing Arts. But sometimes it would stand alone, and sometimes it would be in conjunction with Western medicine. (More on that in a minute.)

Either way, always do your homework to ensure the treatment youre curious about has been deemed safe for your condition. (Check out the NCCIH for all the deetsand, of course, ask your doctor.)

And once youve determined youre in the no-sketch zone, make certain your holistic pro is the real deal. Its important that you seek out trained, licensed, or certified providers of any complementary health approach that you decide to use, Weber stresses.

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Theres no debating this one: If youre seriously sick or injured, haul assto aWestern doctor.

Even holistic practitioners, like Ayurvedic naturopath Meghana Thanki, will co-sign this. We can do so much with Ayurveda, but I feel theres definitely a place for Western medicinemostly for emergencies and for some of their diagnostic tools, she says. Herbalists will also make thecase for pharmaceuticals in certain situations. Even though there are herbs with antimicrobial properties, there are a lot of times where you just need antibiotics, says Giuliano.

Even though there are herbs with antimicrobial properties, there are a lot of times where you just need antibiotics.

Thats not to say that alternative therapies cant buddy up with conventional treatmentslike getting reikiwhile receiving cancer treatmentbut again, its important to get your doctors blessing first. Some alternative therapies might not be possible for some conditions, due to their severity or complexity, points out Dr. Milosavljevic.

Bottom line:Its always best to err on the side of caution, so pursuescience-backed holistic treatments in conjunction with Western medicine, where appropriateand make sure your doctor stays in the loop.

The healthworld is full of hot debates: Is coffee really good for you? Are long or short workouts better? Big breakfast or a small one?

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Roots, Shoots and a Dash of Medicine – Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Posted: at 11:51 am

Photo Courtesy of Manuel Aregullin

Manuel Aregullin, senior research associate, is an expert on plant pharmacology.

Cornell is a gold mine of fantastic gardens, beautiful foliage and abundant flora. In just the five-minute walk from Mann Library to Rockefeller Hall, one can see trees of all sizes and a wide variety of flowers. With colorful flower blossoms in spring and large full trees in summer, the valley, campus walkways and gardens are scenic masterpieces for much of the year. But there is much more to these shrubs, leaves or grasses than meets the eye.

Cancer, Alzheimers and Diabetes are all debilitating diseases. Their treatments routinely involve drugs containing a wide of variety of artificially synthesized chemicals. Is it possible that plants possess chemistry just as powerful as that in synthetically designed drugs? Could the plants we see as decorative be the sources of a new generation of drugs?

Natural remedies have been an important part of human history and extracting medicine from plants is not a new notion. However, investigating the properties of plants that may help provide better, more effective drugs or help us better understand disease biology is not as well established. As of late, the scientific community has fostered a unique interest in plant chemistry with booming trends in plant-based alternative medicines and all-natural remedies, either as initial treatment or as last resorts. According to Global Industry Analysts, the global herbal supplements and remedies market is expected to be valued at $115 billion by 2020. With rising health-care awareness among consumers, corporations will take a larger interest in producing products based on herbal and botanical extracts.

The Sun sat down with Senior Research Associate Manuel Aregullin, plant biology, to talk about the growing interest in alternative medicine and his laboratorys unique focus on plant pharmacology.

The medicinal use of plants remains a very important component of the healthcare system of many cultures around the globe and students are interested in learning about this topic. Cornell has made an effort in addressing that interest in the past through a diversity of courses in plant biology, Aregullin said.

The School of Integrated Plant Sciences offers a plants and human health concentration but does not have a dedicated major on the topic. Crop studies on functional foods or foods that provide benefits beyond nutrition, have been conducted at Cornell, but not many have focussed on plant based drugs.

No one was really working on the pharmacology of a particular plant, whether it was the chemical or biological aspect, for a specific purpose, for a practical motive or looking for something that could result in a new drug lead, Aregullin said. A number of courses, such as plant toxicology and pharmacology, that would fulfill the requirements of a major in plant and health sciences do not exist.

I lecture on botanical pharmacology in the courses I teach, but that is only relevant when you look at plants as medicinals, Aregullin said. The major will bring in a formal robust academic foundation to the importance of plants in human health. Aregullin and his colleagues expressed their excitement that many students interested in studying plant medicinals intend to attend medical school.

I think that to have some kind of background to the understanding of plants as medicinals is important in the medical practice for a number of reasons, Aregullin said. Some patients use plants as a form of complementary medicine while for others it is an alternative and it is always advantageous for the practitioner to acknowledge the natural origin of a prescription drug in clinical use.

Often, in medical school training, the number of courses on plant pharmacology are fairly limited and physicians have poor knowledge of what consequences certain alternative medicines may have. This gap needs to be urgently filled if physicians are to know how plant-based drugs react with conventional ones.

Rarely does botany address the medicinal chemistry of a plant, Aregullin said. A large segment of the population is consuming natural remedies as supplements and we need to know what is in them and if there is a benefit.

However, conducting research on plant chemistry and its possible therapeutic benefits is not easy.

The National Science Foundation will only help fund what they think will be the most effective drug, which will not necessarily come from a plant. Research in clinical areas gets much more funding; there is little funding going towards ventures which are not pivotal to the pharmaceutical industry, Aregullin said. It is a little bit complicated.

However, Aregullins research continues. A crucial point of focus is drug discovery based on disease biology and plant chemistry. Aregullin explains that the first step is to establish the hierarchy of the study. The study usually begins with an investigation of either the treatments goals or a plants chemistry, with subsequent steps intended to find a connection between the two.

If the lab begins by looking at diseases and their treatments, they often begin by looking at developments in the pharmaceutical industry. Clinically validated modes of actions, the process of substance-initiated functional or anatomical changes at the cellular level, are then targeted. Understanding the underlying chemistry behind this mode of action is crucial so that one can identify such chemistry in certain plants.

One criterion by which plants are chosen for study is history. Because of the way certain plants have been used by different groups over the centuries, theories of their benefits have surfaced.

There is a historical background to most plants, if you give weight to that, chances are that the therapeutic health benefit is real, I concur with the idea that the persistent use of a plant for a specific medicinal purpose could reflect efficacy and safety, Aregullin said.

A particular group that Aregullins lab looks at closely is the Iroquois. The team is investigating the species they use in order to prevent the contribution of starch to higher blood sugar. Northeast American ethnobotany, the study of a regions plants, is very robust and diverse. Therefore, research does not require traveling vast distances to access plants. In fact, many of the plants used in the lab have been collected from Cornells grounds.

When there is a lack of ethnobotanical information, Aregullin looks at particular plant chemistries which have been found to be therapeutic, in a process he calls template chemistry. Once such chemicals have been properly identified, Aregullin can identify new plants that may be used to provide similar benefits. Aregullin is also working on what he calls combinatorial pharmacology, studies in which treatments for two types of diseases are found from similar plant chemistry because of the similarity between these diseases.

With a higher number of natural pharmaceuticals expected to hit the market in the coming years, there is a serious need for physicians to understand the chemical basis for these medicines. Furthermore, as pharmaceutical companies see manufacturing costs rise, studies like Aregullins could provide the foundation for a new generation of alternative, natural medicines.

We are an independent, student newspaper. Help keep us reporting with a tax-deductible donation to the Cornell Sun Alumni Association, a non-profit dedicated to aiding The Sun.

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Charity Commission consults on future of alternative medicine … – Civil Society Media

Posted: March 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm

The Charity Commission yesterday launched a consultation into complementary and alternative medicine, after agreeing to review whether organisations such as those promoting homeopathy should remain on the register.

The consultation asks what level of evidence the commission needs to register organisations promoting alternative and complementary medicine, since the commission itself is operating in an area outside its own expertise.

The commission agreed last year to review the status of alternative therapies after the Good Thinking Society, a registered charity which promotes curiosity and rational thinking, chaired by the science writer Simon Singh, threatened it with a judicial review, because it said the regulator was failing to address scientists concerns.

The commission said that registration requires a legal test, in which it considers a number of factors, including whether an organisations purposes are beneficial to the public, and whether any potential harm may outweigh the benefits.

It said it would base its approach on a House of Lords review into alternative medicine in 2000.

John Maton, head of charitable status at the commission, said: The commission has the task of deciding which organisations are charities, but we recognise that we are not the authority in the efficacy of non-traditional medical treatments.

Our consultation is not about whether complementary and alternative therapies and medicines are good or bad, but about what level of evidence we should require when making assessments about an organisations charitable status. This is an area of considerable debate, and it is important that we consult openly.

Michael Marshall, project director of the Good Thinking Society, said: Too often we have seen little effective action to protect the public from charities whose very purpose is the promotion of potentially dangerous quackery.

This consultation is the first step in the right direction. However, the real progress will come when the Commission considers the clear evidence that complementary and alternative medicine organisations currently afforded charitable status often offer alternative therapies that are completely ineffective or even potentially harm the public.

We hope that this review leads to a policy to remove such misleading charities from the register.

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Top U.S. hospitals promote unproven medicine with a side of … – PBS – PBS NewsHour

Posted: March 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Hospitals affiliated with Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and other top medical research centers also aggressively promote alternative therapies with little or no scientific backing. Illustration by Molly Ferguson for STAT

Theyre among the nations premier medical centers, at the leading edge of scientific research.

Yet hospitals affiliated with Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and other top medical research centers also aggressively promote alternative therapies with little or no scientific backing. They offer energy healing to help treat multiple sclerosis, acupuncture for infertility, and homeopathic bee venom for fibromyalgia. A public forum hosted by the University of Floridas hospital even promises to explain how herbal therapy can reverse Alzheimers. (It cant.)

This embrace of alternative medicine has been building for years. But a STAT examination of 15 academic research centers across the U.S. underscores just how deeply these therapies have become embedded in prestigious hospitals and medical schools.

Some hospitals have built luxurious, spa-like wellness centers to draw patients for spiritual healing, homeopathy, and more. And theyre promoting such treatments for a wide array of conditions, including depression, heart disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Duke even markets a pediatric program that suggests on its website that alternative medicine, including detoxification programs and botanical medicines, can help children with conditions ranging from autism to asthma to ADHD.

Weve become witch doctors, said Dr. Steven Novella, a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine and a longtime critic of alternative medicine.

STATs examination found a booming market for such therapies: The clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, is growing so fast, its bursting out of its space.

CHART: See which alternative therapies are on offer at 15 top academic hospitals

[If a hospital is] offering treatment thats based on fantasy, it undermines the credibility of the institution.

Just in the past year, the teaching hospital connected to the University of Florida began offering cancer patients consultations in homeopathy and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia launched an institute whose offerings include intravenous vitamin and mineral therapies. And the University of Arizona, a pioneer in the field, received a $1 million gift to boost practitioner training in natural and spiritual healing techniques.

Even as they count on these programs to bring in patients and revenue, several hospitals were reluctant to talk to STAT about why theyre lending their distinguished names to unproven therapies.

Duke Health declined repeated requests for interviews about its rapidly growing integrative medicine center, which charges patients $1,800 a year just for a basic membership, with acupuncture and other treatments billed separately.

MedStar Georgetown quietly edited its website, citing changes to its clinical offerings, after a reporter asked why it listed the energy healing practice of reiki as a therapy for blood cancer. Cleveland Clinic struggled to find anyone on its staff to defend the hospitals energy medicine program, ultimately issuing a statement that its responding to the needs of our patients and patient demand.

And the director of an alternative medicine program at another prestigious hospital declined to speak on the record out of fear, he said, that his remarks would be construed as fake news and stir a backlash.

The rise of alternative therapies has sparked tension in some hospitals, with doctors openly accusing their peers of peddling snake oil and undermining the credibility of their institutions.

By promoting such therapies, Novella said, physicians are forfeiting any claim that we had to being a science-based profession.

As for patients? Theyre being snookered, he said.

Online promotions with little room for nuance

The counterargument: Modern medicine clearly cant cure everyone. It fails a great many patients. So why not encourage them to try an ancient Indian remedy or a spiritual healing technique thats unlikely to cause harm and may provide some relief, if only from the placebo effect?

Yes, as scientists, we want to be rigid. But me, as a physician, I want to find whats best for a patient. Who am I to say thats hogwash? said Dr. Linda Lee.

A gastroenterologist, Lee runs the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, which offers acupuncture, massage therapy, and reiki a therapy that the centers website describes as laying on hands to transmit Universal Life Energy to the patient.

Yes, as scientists, we want to be rigid. But me, as a physician, I want to find whats best for a patient. Who am I to say thats hogwash?

Lee and others who promote alternative therapies are careful to say that they can supplement but cant replace conventional treatments. And they make a point of coordinating care with other doctors so that, for instance, patients dont get prescribed herbal supplements that might interact badly with their chemotherapy.

Here at UF, we do not have alternative medicine. We do not have complementary medicine. We have integrative medicine, said Dr. Irene Estores, medical director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla.

But while those cautions may come through in the clinic, the hospitals also promote alternative medicine online often, without any nuance.

READ MORE: Alternative therapies go to med school

Dukes Integrative Medicine store, for instance, sells Po Chai Pills that are touted on the hospitals website as a cure for everything from belching to hangovers to headaches. The site explains that taking a pill harmonizes the stomach, stems counterflow ascent of stomach qi, dispels damp, dispels pathogenic factors, subdues yang, relieves pain. None of that makes sense in modern biomedical terms.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals website touts homeopathic bee venom as useful to relieve symptoms for arthritis, nerve pain, and other conditions. The site does tell patients that the biological mechanism for the treatment is unexplained but asserts that studies have been published in medical journals showing homeopathic medicines may provide clinical benefit.

Asked about the therapy, Dr. Daniel Monti, who directs the integrative health center, acknowledged that the data is largely anecdotal, and said the hospital offers the treatment only rarely, when there are few other options. But those caveats dont come through on the website.

Novella gets alarmed when he sees top-tier hospitals backing therapies with scant evidence behind them. Patients only want [alternative medicine] because theyre being told they should want it. They see a prestigious hospital is offering it, so they think its legitimate, said Novella.

The perpetuation of these practices is a victory of marketing over truth, said Steven Salzberg, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins who lectures in the medical school. If a hospital is offering treatment thats based on fantasy, it undermines the credibility of the institution.

READ MORE: Essentially witchcraft: A former naturopath takes on her colleagues

The debate burst into the public view earlier this year when the medical director of the Cleveland Clinics Wellness Institute which markets a variety of alternative therapies published an article raising discredited theories linking vaccines to autism.

Cleveland Clinics chief executive, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, disavowed the article. And the clinic told STAT last week that it will take down its online wellness store and stop selling homeopathy kits.

But Cosgrove has stood up for the general principle of offering alternative treatments.

The old way of combating chronic disease hasnt worked, Cosgrove wrote in a column posted on the hospitals website. We have heard from our patients that they want more than conventional medicine can offer.

Illustration by Molly Ferguson for STAT

A booming market for natural therapies

Theres no question that patients want alternative medicine. Its a $37 billion-a-year business.

The typical American adult spent about $800 out of pocket in 2012 on dietary supplements and visits to alternative providers, such as naturopaths and acupuncturists, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals have taken note. A national consortium to promote integrative health now counts more than 70 academic centers and health systems as members, up from eight in 1999. Each year, four or five new programs join, said Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, the chair of the consortiums policy working group.

In most cases, insurers wont cover alternative therapies theres simply not enough evidence that they actually work so patients pay out of pocket: $85 for acupuncture, $100 for reiki, $38 for pills made from thyme and oregano oils that promise to harmonize digestive and respiratory function.

READ MORE: Homeopathic remedies harmed hundreds of babies, families say, as FDA investigated for years

To be sure, not all such integrative medicine clinics are big profit centers. Many are funded by philanthropists, and some hospitals say their programs operate at a loss but are nonetheless essential to woo patients in a highly competitive marketplace. If they failed to offer natural therapies, some hospital executives fear they would lose a chance to attract patients who need more lucrative care, such as orthopedic surgeries or cancer treatments.

The integrative medicine center at Thomas Jefferson, for instance, is part of an enterprise strategy for growth and development, Monti said.

The people running the hospitals are doctors, but they also have MBAs. They talk of patients as customers. Customers have demands. Your job is to sell them what they want, said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York Universitys medical school. Too often, he said, the attitude is, Were damn well going to do it if the guys down the street are doing it.

Weve become witch doctors [forfeiting] any claim that we had to be a science-based profession.

While most hospitals declined to give specific revenue figures, STAT found indications of rapid growth.

Were literally bursting. We have to convert office space to clinic exam rooms, said Shelley Adler, who runs the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. It offers a wide range of services, including Chinese herbal medicine, massage therapy, and Ayurveda, an ancient healing system from India based on the belief that health results from a balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

The center is on pace to get more than 10,300 patient visits this fiscal year, up 37 percent from 2012. Its expanding its clinical staff by a third.

Duke Universitys integrative medicine clinic, a stunning space with arching wood ceilings and an indoor garden, has seen strong growth: Total visits jumped 50 percent in 2015, to more than 14,000, Dr. Adam Perlman, the executive director, told IntegrativePractitioner.com. (He declined to talk to STAT.)

The centers membership count also jumped, up 25 percent to 885, Perlman said. If all members paid the list price, that would bring in more than $1 million a year just for primary care.

READ MORE: A supplement maker tried to silence this Harvard doctor and put academic freedom on trial

At the University of Pittsburghs Center for Integrative Medicine, meanwhile, our volume pretty much has increased steadily, even when weve had recessions and financial downturns, said Dr. Ronald Glick, the medical director. The center now treats about 8,000 patients a year.

Many hospitals have also expanded into more general wellness offerings, with classes in healthy cooking, tai chi, meditation, and art therapy. UCSF offers a $375 class on cultivating emotional balance (and a free class on laughter yoga). Mayo Clinic sells a $2,900 signature experience, which includes consultations with a wellness coach.

And the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital offers specialized stress management services to help patients deal with conditions including cancer, infertility, and menopause. John Henry, the owner of STAT, has contributed funding to the Benson-Henry Institute.

Wellness programs which are designed to ease stress and encourage healthy behaviors are seen by many clinicians and hospitals as key to slowing Americas epidemic of chronic disease. They dont tend to draw sharp criticism, except for their cost.

Its the alternative therapies promoted as a way to treat disease that raise eyebrows.

Illustration by Molly Ferguson for STAT

Energy healing takes root

Despite their deep wells of medical expertise, many top hospitals are offering to help treat serious medical problems with reiki a practice based on the belief that lightly touching patients can unleash a cosmic energy flow that will heal them naturally.

STAT found that it is widely used by academic medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Partners HealthCare in Boston.

So, wheres the evidence supporting it?

There is none, according to a division of the National Institutes of Health that funds research into alternative medicines. It says the practice has not been shown to be useful for any health-related purpose and adds that there is no scientific evidence that the natural healing energy its based on even exists.

Asked about the Cleveland Clinics promotion of reiki, Dr. Richard Lang, the recently named interim director of the clinics Wellness Institute, said he hadnt had a chance to think about it. I dont know that I could give you a plus or minus on that, he said. Lang served as a vice chair of the wellness institute for nearly a decade before taking the top post.

[Hospital executives] talk of patients as customers. Customers have demands. Your job is to sell them what they want.

Pressed for a more substantive answer, the clinic sent a statement saying it offers energy medicine as a complementary therapy, not as a replacement solution. But its website only briefly alludes to a patients broader care team in describing a full range of emotional and physical issues that can be treated with energy therapies, including autoimmune diseases, migraines, hormonal imbalances, and cancer treatment support and recovery.

Academic medical centers often boast that theyre more rigorous in evaluating alternative therapies and weeding out scams than a for-profit wellness center might be.

The important thing about practicing in an academic center is that we must hold ourselves to certain standards, said Estores, the medical director at the University of Floridas integrative medicine clinic.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Glick echoed that sentiment: Were an academic institution [so] were offering services that have greater evidence basis [and] scientific explanation.

READ MORE: Should researchers study bunk science? Among respected scientists, a debate ensues

But that evidence isnt always rigorous.

The University of Florida, for instance, is using Facebook to advertise a herbal medicine workshop for providers and the public that promises to answer questions including, How can we stabilize or reverse Alzheimers disease?

Asked about the evidence for that statement, Susan Marynowski, the herbalist presenting the workshop, cited several papers and a book chapter that she said showed herbs, in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments, could reverse Alzheimers-associated memory loss. However, at least two papers were small collections of case studies published in a journal with a reputation for less-than-rigorous review. (Marynowski said she knew the studies size and design limited the strength of their conclusions, but that she was not aware of the journals reputation.)

At Pittsburgh, the integrative medical center does take care to note on its website that alternative therapies generally have not been subjected to the same level of research as standard medical approaches.

But the site then goes on to promote dozens of treatments for everything from ADHD to whiplash, saying they have appeared to be beneficial in this and other complementary medicine clinics. (Glick noted that the body of research had grown since he wrote the caveat on the website in 2003.)

Illustration by Molly Ferguson for STAT

Its not black and white

Perhaps the most prevalent alternative treatment STAT found on offer is acupuncture. Its promoted for more than a dozen conditions, including high blood pressure, sinus problems, infertility, migraines, and digestive irregularities.

A 3,000-year-old Chinese therapy, acupuncture is based on the belief that by stimulating certain points on the body, most often with needles, practitioners can unlock a natural healing energy that flows through the bodys meridians. Research suggests it helps with certain pain conditions and might help prevent migraine headaches but it also suggests that the placebo effect may play an important role.

Its value in treating other conditions is uncertain, according to the NIHs center on integrative medicine.

READ MORE: Vitamin IVs promise to erase jet lag and clear your mind. Wheres the evidence?

Several major insurers, including Aetna, Anthem, and regional Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates, cover acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain and nausea. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wont pay for acupuncture, dismissing the scientific evidence as insufficient.

Still, its important for physicians to keep an open mind, said Lang, the interim director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

He said, for example, that he used to avoid referring patients for acupuncture, until he saw the benefit it provided to some of them. I have seen it work in some chronic pain situations, said Lang. It can be very helpful. If it doesnt work, I dont know that youve lost anything. If it does, you do get to a better place.

If it doesnt work, I dont know that youve lost anything. If it does, you do get to a better place.

And while the evidence of its efficacy is not ironclad, neither is the evidence for various pharmaceutical therapies that are routinely provided by hospitals and covered by insurance. Some of those solutions, such as opioids to treat pain, have resulted in addiction and harm to patients.

Advocates of alternative medicine say its difficult to test some alternative therapies through rigorous clinical trials, primarily because treatment techniques vary from patient to patient. (The federal government does, however, spend roughly $120 million a year to fund research through the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.)

They note, too, that traditional doctors sometimes stray from proven treatments, for instance when they prescribe medicines off-label for conditions the drugs have not been approved to treat.

We do use things that arent necessarily 100 percent evidence-based, but I would argue thats also true within all of medicine, said Dr. Jill Schneiderhan, co-director of the University of Michigans integrative family medicine program. I feel like its not black and white.

This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on March 7, 2017. Find the original story here.

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Top U.S. hospitals promote unproven medicine with a side of ... - PBS - PBS NewsHour

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Speakers lay stress on use of alternative medicine – The Nation

Posted: March 11, 2017 at 8:12 am

KARACHI - Speakers at a meeting of Shura Hamdard, Karachi chapter, urged the government on Friday to promote alternative medicine to solve the public healthcare problem in the country.

The meeting was held on the theme Public healthcare and government responsibilities and it was presided over by Justice (r) Haziqul Khairi at a local hall.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Hakim Abdul Hannan, vice chancellor of the Hamdard University, said that solution to public healthcare problem was in implementation and promotion of alternative medicine, particularly Unani Medicine, which was based on herbs, plants and other halal things and could be used with confidence in Islamic countries.

Unani Medicine is comparatively cheaper. Its herbs and medicinal plants can easily be grown in the country; thus, it is economical and will save foreign exchange. It suits our weather and temperament, he said. If we heed to the promotion of Unani Medicine, we will not only be able to solve our health problems but also help other countries solve their health issues, he said.

He said it was Hamdard, which played a key role to introduce Unani Medicine in the country, regulate its medicines and standardise its education. It took the Unani Medicine degree to the level of higher education and many students did MPhil and PhD at the Faculty of Eastern Medicine at Hamdard University.

He said that a hospital of Eastern Medicine set up by Hamdard University was providing free health services to the people of areas where no health services were available.

A seed, QUINOA, brought from a country of Latin America, is being cultivated at the botanical garden of Hamdard University. It is like rice in taste and has the size of millet (bajra). It is a good substitute for rice, can be grown in saltish water and is useful for diabetic patients, Prof Hakim Hannan informed.

Journalist Zubaida Mustafa said that healthcare was a fundamental human right, even WHO stressed on every country to give this right to its citizen but in our country access to health care was a big issue. A big and costly hospital was useless for the poor, she said, adding that in a country where less than 0.25 per cent of GDP was being spent on healthcare creation of such situation was obvious. There was one nurse on four doctors in our country and the main purpose of doctors now was to make money, she said.

Sadia Rashid, president of Hamdard Foundation Pakistan, said that councils of Unanani Medicine and Homeopathy had already been formed and working in the country with enough budget. Justice (r) Zia Pervez, Col (r) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt, Zafar Iqbal, Naushaba Khalil, Prof Muhammad Rafi, Com (r) Sadeed Anwar Malik, Dr Abubakar Sheikh, Usman Damohi, Khalid Ikramullah Khan and Prof Dr Akhtar Saeed Siddiqui also spoke.

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Premier U.S. Hospitals Are Selling Unproven Alternative Therapies … – KQED

Posted: at 8:12 am

Theyre among the nations premier medical centers, at the leading edge of scientific research.

Yet hospitals affiliated with Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and other top medical research centers also aggressively promote alternative therapies with little or no scientific backing. They offer energy healing to help treat multiple sclerosis, acupuncture for infertility, and homeopathic bee venom for fibromyalgia. A public forum hosted by the University of Floridas hospital even promises to explain how herbal therapy can reverse Alzheimers. (It cant.)

This embrace of alternative medicine has been building for years. But a STAT examination of 15 academic research centers across the U.S. underscores just how deeply these therapies have become embedded in prestigious hospitals and medical schools.

Some hospitals have built luxurious, spa-like wellness centers to draw patients for spiritual healing, homeopathy and more. And theyre promoting such treatments for a wide array of conditions, including depression, heart disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Duke even markets a pediatric program that suggests on its website that alternative medicine, including detoxification programs and botanical medicines, can help children with conditions ranging from autism to asthma to ADHD.

Weve become witch doctors, said Dr. Steven Novella, a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine and a longtime critic of alternative medicine.

STATs examination found a booming market for such therapies: The clinic at the University of California, San Francisco, is growing so fast, its bursting out of its space.

Just in the past year, the teaching hospital connected to the University of Florida began offering cancer patients consultations in homeopathy and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia launched an institute whose offerings include intravenous vitamin and mineral therapies. And the University of Arizona, a pioneer in the field, received a $1 million gift to boost practitioner training in natural and spiritual healing techniques.

Even as they count on these programs to bring in patients and revenue, several hospitals were reluctant to talk to STAT about why theyre lending their distinguished names to unproven therapies.

Duke Health declined repeated requests for interviews about its rapidly growing integrative medicine center, which charges patients $1,800 a year just for a basic membership, with acupuncture and other treatments billed separately.

MedStar Georgetown quietly edited its website, citing changes to its clinical offerings, after a reporter asked why it listed the energy healing practice of reiki as a therapy for blood cancer. Cleveland Clinic struggled to find anyone on its staff to defend the hospitals energy medicine program, ultimately issuing a statement that its responding to the needs of our patients and patient demand.

And the director of an alternative medicine program at another prestigious hospital declined to speak on the record out of fear, he said, that his remarks would be construed as fake news and stir a backlash.

The rise of alternative therapies has sparked tension in some hospitals, with doctors openly accusing their peers of peddling snake oil and undermining the credibility of their institutions.

By promoting such therapies, Novella said, physicians are forfeiting any claim that we had to being a science-based profession.

As for patients? Theyre being snookered, he said.

The counterargument: Modern medicine clearly cant cure everyone. It fails a great many patients. So why not encourage them to try an ancient Indian remedy or a spiritual healing technique thats unlikely to cause harm and may provide some relief, if only from the placebo effect?

Yes, as scientists, we want to be rigid. But me, as a physician, I want to find whats best for a patient. Who am I to say thats hogwash? said Dr. Linda Lee.

A gastroenterologist, Lee runs the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, which offers acupuncture, massage therapy, and reiki a therapy that the centers website describes as laying on hands to transmit Universal Life Energy to the patient.

Lee and others who promote alternative therapies are careful to say that they can supplement but cant replace conventional treatments. And they make a point of coordinating care with other doctors so that, for instance, patients dont get prescribed herbal supplements that might interact badly with their chemotherapy.

Here at UF, we do not have alternative medicine. We do not have complementary medicine. We have integrative medicine, said Dr. Irene Estores, medical director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Florida Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla.

Online Promotions Offer Scant Evidence

But while those cautions may come through in the clinic, the hospitals also promote alternative medicine online often, without any nuance.

Dukes Integrative Medicine store, for instance, sells Po Chai Pills that are touted on the hospitals website as a cure for everything from belching to hangovers to headaches. The site explains that taking a pill harmonizes the stomach, stems counterflow ascent of stomach qi, dispels damp, dispels pathogenic factors, subdues yang, relieves pain. None of that makes sense in modern biomedical terms.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals website touts homeopathic bee venom as useful to relieve symptoms for arthritis, nerve pain, and other conditions. The site does tell patients that the biological mechanism for the treatment is unexplained but asserts that studies have been published in medical journals showing homeopathic medicines may provide clinical benefit.

Asked about the therapy, Dr. Daniel Monti, who directs the integrative health center, acknowledged that the data is largely anecdotal, and said the hospital offers the treatment only rarely, when there are few other options. But those caveats dont come through on the website.

Novella gets alarmed when he sees top-tier hospitals backing therapies with scant evidence behind them. Patients only want [alternative medicine] because theyre being told they should want it. They see a prestigious hospital is offering it, so they think its legitimate, said Novella.

The perpetuation of these practices is a victory of marketing over truth, said Steven Salzberg, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins who lectures in the medical school. If a hospital is offering treatment thats based on fantasy, it undermines the credibility of the institution.

The debate burst into the public view earlier this year when the medical director of the Cleveland Clinics Wellness Institute which markets a variety of alternative therapies published an articleraising discredited theories linking vaccines to autism.

Cleveland Clinics chief executive, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, disavowed the article. And the clinic told STAT last week that it will take down its online wellness store and stop selling homeopathy kits.

But Cosgrove has stood up for the general principle of offering alternative treatments.

The old way of combating chronic disease hasnt worked, Cosgrove wrote in a column posted on the hospitals website. We have heard from our patients that they want more than conventional medicine can offer.

A Booming Market for Natural Therapies

Theres no question that patients want alternative medicine. Its a $37 billion-a-year business.

The typical American adult spent about $800 out of pocket in 2012 on dietary supplements and visits to alternative providers, such as naturopaths and acupuncturists, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals have taken note. A national consortium to promote integrative health now counts more than 70 academic centers and health systems as members, up from eight in 1999. Each year, four or five new programs join, said Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, the chair of the consortiums policy working group.

In most cases, insurers wont cover alternative therapies theres simply not enough evidence that they actually work so patients pay out of pocket: $85 for acupuncture, $100 for reiki, $38 for pills made from thyme and oregano oils that promise to harmonize digestive and respiratory function.

To be sure, not all such integrative medicine clinics are big profit centers. Many are funded by philanthropists, and some hospitals say their programs operate at a loss but are nonetheless essential to woo patients in a highly competitive marketplace. If they failed to offer natural therapies, some hospital executives fear they would lose a chance to attract patients who need more lucrative care, such as orthopedic surgeries or cancer treatments.

The integrative medicine center at Thomas Jefferson, for instance, is part of an enterprise strategy for growth and development, Monti said.

The people running the hospitals are doctors, but they also have MBAs. They talk of patients as customers. Customers have demands. Your job is to sell them what they want, said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York Universitys medical school. Too often, he said, the attitude is, Were damn well going to do it if the guys down the street are doing it.

While most hospitals declined to give specific revenue figures, STAT found indications of rapid growth.

Were literally bursting. We have to convert office space to clinic exam rooms, said Shelley Adler, who runs the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. It offers a wide range of services, including Chinese herbal medicine, massage therapy, and Ayurveda, an ancient healing system from India based on the belief that health results from a balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

The center is on pace to get more than 10,300 patient visits this fiscal year, up 37 percent from 2012. Its expanding its clinical staff by a third.

Duke Universitys integrative medicine clinic, a stunning space with arching wood ceilings and an indoor garden, has seen strong growth: Total visits jumped 50 percent in 2015, to more than 14,000, Dr. Adam Perlman, the executive director, told IntegrativePractitioner.com. (He declined to talk to STAT.)

The centers membership count also jumped, up 25 percent to 885, Perlman said. If all members paid the list price, that would bring in more than $1 million a year just for primary care.

At the University of Pittsburghs Center for Integrative Medicine, meanwhile, our volume pretty much has increased steadily, even when weve had recessions and financial downturns, said Dr. Ronald Glick, the medical director. The center now treats about 8,000 patients a year.

Many hospitals have also expanded into more general wellness offerings, with classes in healthy cooking, tai chi, meditation, and art therapy. UCSF offers a $375 class on cultivating emotional balance (and a free class on laughter yoga). Mayo Clinic sells a $2,900 signature experience, which includes consultations with a wellness coach.

And the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital offers specialized stress management services to help patients deal with conditions including cancer, infertility, and menopause. John Henry, the owner of STAT, has contributed funding to the Benson-Henry Institute.

Wellness programs which are designed to ease stress and encourage healthy behaviors are seen by many clinicians and hospitals as key to slowing Americas epidemic of chronic disease. They dont tend to draw sharp criticism, except for their cost.

Its the alternative therapies promoted as a way to treat disease that raise eyebrows.

Energy Healing Takes Root

Despite their deep wells of medical expertise, many top hospitals are offering to help treat serious medical problems with reiki a practice based on the belief that lightly touching patients can unleash a cosmic energy flow that will heal them naturally.

STAT found that it is widely used by academic medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, part of Partners HealthCare in Boston.

So, wheres the evidence supporting it?

There is none, according to a division of the National Institutes of Health that funds research into alternative medicines. It says the practice has not been shown to be useful for any health-related purpose and adds that there is no scientific evidence that the natural healing energy its based on even exists.

Asked about the Cleveland Clinics promotion of reiki, Dr. Richard Lang, the recently named interim director of the clinics Wellness Institute, said he hadnt had a chance to think about it. I dont know that I could give you a plus or minus on that, he said. Lang served as a vice chair of the Wellness Institute for nearly a decade before taking the top post.

Pressed for a more substantive answer, the clinic sent a statement saying it offers energy medicine as a complementary therapy, not as a replacement solution. But its website only briefly alludes to a patients broader care team in describing a full range of emotional and physical issues that can be treated with energy therapies, including autoimmune diseases, migraines, hormonal imbalances, and cancer treatment support and recovery.

Academic medical centers often boast that theyre more rigorous in evaluating alternative therapies and weeding out scams than a for-profit wellness center might be.

The important thing about practicing in an academic center is that we must hold ourselves to certain standards, said Estores, the medical director at the University of Floridas integrative medicine clinic.

At the University of Pittsburgh, Glick echoed that sentiment: Were an academic institution [so] were offering services that have greater evidence basis [and] scientific explanation.

But that evidence isnt always rigorous.

The University of Florida, for instance, is using Facebook to advertise an herbal medicine workshop for providers and the public that promises to answer questions including, How can we stabilize or reverse Alzheimers disease?

Asked about the evidence for that statement, Susan Marynowski, the herbalist presenting the workshop, cited several papers and a book chapter that she said showed herbs, in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments, could reverse Alzheimers-associated memory loss. However, at least two of those papers were small collections of case studies published in a journal with a reputation for less-than-rigorous review. (Marynowski said she knew the studies size and design limited the strength of their conclusions, but that she was not aware of the journals reputation.)

At Pittsburgh, the integrative medical center does take care to note on its website that alternative therapies generally have not been subjected to the same level of research as standard medical approaches.

But the site then goes on to promote dozens of treatments for everything from ADHD to whiplash, saying they have appeared to be beneficial in this and other complementary medicine clinics. (Glick noted that the body of research had grown since he wrote the caveat on the website in 2003.)

Its not Black and White

Perhaps the most prevalent alternative treatment STAT found on offer is acupuncture. Its promoted for more than a dozen conditions, including high blood pressure, sinus problems, infertility, migraines, and digestive irregularities.

A 3,000-year-old Chinese therapy, acupuncture is based on the belief that by stimulating certain points on the body, most often with needles, practitioners can unlock a natural healing energy that flows through the bodys meridians. Research suggests it helps with certain pain conditions and might help prevent migraine headaches but it also suggests that the placebo effect may play an important role.

Its value in treating other conditions is uncertain, according to the NIHs center on integrative medicine.

Several major insurers, including Aetna, Anthem, and regional Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates, cover acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain and nausea. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wont pay for acupuncture, dismissing the scientific evidence as insufficient.

Still, its important for physicians to keep an open mind, said Lang, the interim director of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

He said, for example, that he used to avoid referring patients for acupuncture, until he saw the benefit it provided to some of them. I have seen it work in some chronic pain situations, said Lang. It can be very helpful. If it doesnt work, I dont know that youve lost anything. If it does, you do get to a better place.

And while the evidence of its efficacy is not ironclad, neither is the evidence for various pharmaceutical therapies that are routinely provided by hospitals and covered by insurance. Some of those solutions, such as opioids to treat pain, have resulted in addiction and harm to patients.

Advocates of alternative medicine say its difficult to test some alternative therapies through rigorous clinical trials, primarily because treatment techniques vary from patient to patient. (The federal government does, however, spend roughly $120 million a year to fund research through the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.)

They note, too, that traditional doctors sometimes stray from proven treatments, for instance when they prescribe medicines off-label for conditions the drugs have not been approved to treat.

We do use things that arent necessarily 100 percent evidence-based, but I would argue thats also true within all of medicine, said Dr. Jill Schneiderhan, co-director of the University of Michigans integrative family medicine program. I feel like its not black and white.

This story was originally published by STAT, an online publication of Boston Globe Media that covers health, medicine, and scientific discovery.

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Alternative medicine becomes a lucrative business for U.S. top … – FierceHealthcare

Posted: March 10, 2017 at 3:11 am

Chinese herbal therapies, acupuncture, homeopathy and reiki are just a few of the offerings that some prestigious medical centers now provide, despite the fact that in many cases there is no evidence the therapies work.

The rise of alternative medicine has created friction within some of these hospitals as many physicians believe it undermines the credibility of the organizations, according to an in-depth investigation of 15 academic research centers by STAT.

The issue came to the forefront earlier this year when the Cleveland Clinic decided to rethink its alternative medicine offerings and how they align with evidence-based practices after the director of the organizations wellness program went on an anti-vaccine rant in a blog post that sparked an immediate backlash.

The clinic said the wellness center would stop selling some of the products, like homeopathy kits, on its website and focus instead on items that improve diet and lifestyle.

But the STAT investigation noted that the Cleveland Clinic is just one of many that has a hand in the $37-billion-a-year business. Other organizations include Duke University, Johns Hopkins, Yale and the University of California, San Francisco. Some hospitals open spa-like wellness centers, while others, like Duke, refer to them as integrative medicine centers.

Several of the hospitals highlighted in the STAT report declined to talk to the publication about why they have embraced unproven therapies, but critics were quick to point out that patients are being snookered and physicians who promote these therapies forfeit claims that they belong to a science-based profession.

Weve become witch doctors, Steven Novella, M.D., a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine and a longtime critic of alternative medicine, told STAT.

Others, however, say that alternative therapies have helped patients and modern medicine doesnt offer a cure for everyone. Linda Lee, M.D., who runs the Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, said the therapies offered are meant to complement, not supplement, conventional treatment.

But Novella worries that when these unconventional treatments are offered by prestigious institutions, patients will think they are legitimate. The problem only worsens when patients find the treatments being sold online by the institution. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, for instance, sells homeopathic bee venom to relieve symptoms of arthritis.

Daniel Monti, M.D., who directs the integrative health center at the organization, admits the evidence behind some of these treatments is largely anecdotal but said the hospital only offers the treatment when there are few other options.

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Alternative medicine becomes a lucrative business for U.S. top ... - FierceHealthcare

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Financial Planning + Alternative Medicine – March 8, 2017 … – KHTS Radio

Posted: at 3:11 am

Hosts: Dr. Gene Dorio, Barbara Cochran

Guests: Arif Halaby, Total Financial Solutions; Kim Wahl, Alternative Medicines Specialist

Topic:Senior Hour

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Right Click Here to Download!

Today on the Senior Hour, Dr. Dorio and Barbara Cochran sit down with Arif Halaby from Total Financial Solutions to discuss ways that seniors can plan for their future, and work to protect their money. Gene and Barbara also welcome Domestic Violence Center to discuss the very real issue of senior abuse, and what people can do to help end it.

Alternative medicinespecialist Kim Wahl joins the gang in-studioduring the second segment to talk about the physiological issues many people face as they grow older.

Ms. Wahl provides tips and remediestorelieve the stress load and ailments that your body is facing, which include avoiding traditional medicine and drugs found in Western medicine.

Full list of theKHTS Podcasts!

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Financial Planning + Alternative Medicine - March 8, 2017 ... - KHTS Radio

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