Report from the March 2011 pan European “CAMbrella” meeting Italian integrative medicine leader Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD sends notice of the March 2011 meeting of CAMbrella, a “pan European research network for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).” CAMbrella involve

Report from the March 2011 pan-European “CAMbrella” meeting 

Italian integrative medicine leader Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD sends notice of the March 2011 meeting of CAMbrella, a “pan-European research network for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).” CAMbrella involve 16 partner institutions from 12 European countries. Their focus is on “developing a road-map for future European research in CAM that is appropriate for the health care needs of European citizens and acceptable to the EU Parliament as well as national research funders and health care providers.” Roberti di Sarsina hosted this meeting. It followed a January 2010 gathering when the initiative was created via the Eureopean Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme. An informational report and photos from the meeting are here.   

Comment: Via Roberti di Sarsina I am reminded, through articles and links he regularly sends, that integrative healthcare is indeed an international movement. CAMbrella is the point of the spear in Europe.  

Herbal medicine regulation enforcement arrives in the UK: Will it stimulate a black market?

In an April 30, 2011 editorial entitled Strengthening the Regulation of Herbal Medicines in Europe, The Lancet ushered in an era of significant new regulation. From May 1, 2011, forward: 

“Patients who use herbal remedies will not have access to treatments if the products have not been authorised, which might encourage them to purchase the products from alternative, less well-regulated sources. Herbal practitioners will find their legitimate pharmacopoeia limited.”  

The date stems from an action taken on March 31, 2004 when the European Parliament and Council adopted the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive. The Directive required that, within 7 years, all herbal medicinal products must meet standards and be registered if marketed. Thus far 211 applications have been received and 101 granted. The editorial notes that no applications from China have been granted, significantly impacting access to such agents.  

Comment: This may be the Herbal Black Market Expansion Act of 2011. The editorial was right to note that patients and practitioners are likely to “purchase the products from alternative, less well-regulated sources.” While I like to know products I chose meet quality standards (and I do know that there are opportunist scoundrels in the herb industry), one necessarily wonders about the politics of herb regulations. The Lancet notes that UK regulators receive 70 complaints a year about adverse effects from herbs. A loose estimate based on data from recent publications suggests that 70 is probably less than the number of hospital errors from conventional procedures in a given hospital in a given day. (That is, if inpatient care in the UK reflects that in the US.) The main beneficiary of the regulation may not be public protection, as The Lancet states. The beneficiary will be illegal herb trade in the UK. An unintended consequence of the regulations may be an increase in adverse events due to herbs.     

New Zealand CAM group boosted via link to actuary Heather McLeod

Actuary Heather McLeod shares that New Zealand Centre for Evidence‐based Research into Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ENZCAM) has commenced a series of CAM/IM/traditional medicine newsletters. McLeod will produce these as a first evidence of a new relationship on a “series of projects” with Ray Kirk, PhD at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. The newsletter will include “a section on the integration of CAM into clinical practice and health systems.” The newsletter material on practitioners and conferences will have an Australasian and Pacific focus. McLeod runs a resource and consulting site called Integrated Healing.

South Africa: A note re “CAM” programs and integration with disciplines in academic health centers

Reed Phillips, DC, PhD, is president emeritus of Southern California University of Health Sciences and an acknowledged leader in advancing research, education, collaboration and accreditation in the chiropractic and “CAM” fields. Phillips is currently in a short term position at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in South Africa at the faculty of Chiropractic and Somatology. Said Phillips: “They have a great (chiropractic) program going down here. It is well integrated into the university and is well respected.” The university has 25,000 student and 8 health sciences programs. These are side-by-side with many more degree offerings. Phillips notes that South Africa’s other chiropractic program is similarly lodged in the University of Johannesburg. There, chiropractic is one of 12 health services programs. Adds Phillips: “Durban University of Technology has an enrollment near 25,000 and services predominantly the African and Indian populations. Very interesting cultural mix.” The health professions programs at these universities range from nursing to optometry on one hand, to Sports and Movement Studies and Homeopathy on the other. No education of medical doctors, apparently. 

Comment: Can there be ‘CAM” discipline integration in practice without CAM discipline integration into health sciences education? The history of CAM program exclusion from conventional academic health centers in the United States is home to roost with the rise of the movement for interprofessional education (IPE), noted elsewhere in this Round-up. IPE is best taught, and perhaps necessarily taught, in clinical settings. This is tough to accomplish when the disciplines don’t cohabit the same academic and clinical settings. The absolute silos of stand alone CAM schools create integration challenges.

Meantime, it’s fascinating to think of all of these 8 or 12 non-MD disciplines getting to know each other without the paternal presence of an MD educational program. What does that medium breed? Perhaps nothing more, or less that\n, as Phillips puts it, the programs being “well integrated into the university and is well respected.” A pretty thing to think about, for now, in the U.S.

Read other topics from the John Weeks’ May 2011 Round-up: