by John Weeks, Publisher Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports Beth Sommers Report on Alternative and Complementary Health Practices content at the APHA 2013 I invited researcher clinician Elizabeth Sommers, PhD, MPH, LAc, a principal with Boston’s Pathways to Health, to

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports

Beth Sommers: Report on Alternative and Complementary Health Practices content at the APHA 2013

I invited researcher-clinician Elizabeth Sommers, PhD, MPH, LAc, a principal with Boston’s Pathways to Health, to share her perspective on the Alternative and Complementary Health Practices content at the recent American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting. Sommers, who co-chairs the group, reports:

“Overall, I was very heartened by this year’s annual meeting. First and foremost, the level of increased awareness and acceptance of integrative/complementary approaches has significantly improved. Great to be appreciated by our public health colleagues! Secondly, this year’s programming was truly comprehensive and in alignment with the annual meeting theme ‘Think Global. Act Local.’

Sommers continues: “Our Alternative and Complementary Health Practices group hosted almost 100 oral and poster presentations over 2 ½ days. Highlights included a panel on best practices around the world that featured Dr. Herbert Benson (‘The Global and Location Aspects of the Relaxation Response’) and Dr. Jon Adams (co-founder of the Network of Researchers in Public Health in CAM– ‘Developing the Public Health of Complementary and Traditional Medicine: Critical Methods and Translational Research’).”

“Our group is poised to grow in numbers and apply for section status in APHA. When we do this, we’ll also update our name. Although we are very grateful to Dr. Alan Trachtenberg for co-founding our group and giving it a name that started with an ‘a’, it’s time to phase out the ‘alternative’ and replace it with more appropriate title. This process will take a few months and involve our membership. I’ll keep you posted. I expect our new name will include some of the following words: integrative, Traditional, health.”

Sommers concludes: “In terms of acupuncture, it was great to see so many presenters describe the diverse settings into which acupuncture has been incorporated. There seem to be many paradigms for how to do this, and hearing about the variety of approaches was truly inspiring. Consumers are demanding that their health care teams function in unified and patient-centric ways.”

Sommers notes the 2014 APHA annual meeting will be held in New Orleans Nov. 15-19. The theme will be “Health Geography: How where you live affects your health and well-being.” Those who wish to hear keynote presenters for the regular APHA content from the 2013 meeting can click here.

Comment: Ah, the re-naming process, always an issue for anything cornered, clustered and colonized as “CAM” or some version there-of, by conventional medicine. While Arnold Relman, MD, the former editor of the New England Journal of  Medicine, is widely quoted for saying that ultimately it’s not “integrative medicine” or “alternative medicine” but just “good medicine” toward which we are striving, the higher standard is actually “good health.” Using “integrative” and “Traditional” and “health” are all good paths out of the CAM trap.

American Botanical Council blasts USA Today and BMC Medicine for falsehoods on the herb industry

The American Botanical Council punched-back hard at what it calls flaws and falsehoods in two recent media reports, one in the peer-reviewed literature and the second in the popular media. The first was a blast at BMC Medicine in which ABC marshaled its considerable scientific expertise in a release entitled “Science Group Says Article on DNA Barcode Analysis of Herbs Is Flawed, Contains Errors, Creates Confusion, and Should Be Retracted.” The peer-reviewed critique of the BMC paper is here. ABC’s other timely response was to a column prominently featured in USA Today that urged consumers to avoid herbal supplements. ABC responded to the claim of the author, Kevin Pho, MD that herbs are not regulated. They pointed to ABC’s document called The Regulated Dietary Supplement Industry: Myths of an Unregulated Industry Dispelled.

Comment: The tack NIH NCCAM director Josie Briggs, MD took with the anti-NCCAM naysayers at polarization-based medicine applies here. See NCCAM’s Briggs calls for “more nuanced” conversation about complementary and integrative medicine in JAMA editorial.  Really, now, must we still be arguing this in such polarized terms? One might as well argue that there is no value in the FDA because from time to time their misguided approvals result in the deaths of hundreds or thousands. Good for ABC to come out fighting.

Institute for Alternative Futures, a key player in the integrative health and medicine movement, declares a new vision statement

The Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF) is an organization of futurists co-founded by futurists Alvin Toffler and internationally acclaimed current chair Clem Bezold, PhD. IAF has multiple relationships to the integrative health and medicine world. The organization has declared a new vision: “IAF opens eyes, hearts and minds to alternative futures showing that aspiration is powerful and enduring. We partner with individuals, communities and organizations worldwide to look over the horizon so that their decisions today are accountable to tomorrow. IAF helps to create equitable, sustainable futures shaped by kindness, wisdom, and foresight. Our work and our lives embody this hope for preferred futures.”In a reflection that
includes the influential organization’s 1993 vision
, IAF president and senior futurist Jonathan Peck particularly noted the focus on partnerships and the “IAF helps to create equitable, sustainable futures shaped by kindness, wisdom and foresight.”

Comment: IAF, and Bezold in particular, have developed quite a resume in the integrative health and medicine space. IAF produced an influential works on the future of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in the late 1990s and a series of reports on the future of chiropractic, including most recently Chiropractic 2025. Bezold had key roles in developing the Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summits (2000-2002) and facilitated the influential National Policy Dialogue to Advance Integrated Care (2001). He and IAF have worked with the Bravewell Collaborative. Closest to home for me, he was the person who, in 2005 when I was returning from a sojourn away in Central America and wanted to create a new newsletter, suggested that I try something new that had popped up while I was away: “blogging.” (Never mind that the Integrator Blog has never been a blog, as such.) Bezold is a just, committed man, and a mentor to me, whose values are stamped all over that concluding line: “… sustainable futures shaped by kindness, wisdom and foresight.” Having those traits guide us would be, to use a term Clem taught me, a “preferred future.”

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