November 2012 John Weeks Integrator Round-up covering the topics of:  Policy, Business, Integrative Centers, Academics, Natural Products, Professions, and People.

Consumer Reports jumps on bandwagon supporting acupuncture for chronic pain

The influential magazine Consumer Reports has taken the publication of a recent individual patient-data meta-analysis  on acupuncture for chronic claim to declare that “the results provide the best evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable option for people with chronic pain.” The Consumer Reports article, published September 26, 2012, is entitled Acupuncture is more than a placebo for chronic pain. The writer add this guidance: “If you decide to try acupuncture, talk with your physician first to set realistic expectations for improvement.” Then: “Our recent survey of subscribers to Consumer Reports found that many derived benefit from acupuncture and other alternative therapies for 12 common health problems.”

Consumer: Fascinating that the consumer’s physician, who is likely to know and have experienced something close to zero about acupuncture, is to be leaned on by the consumer for best evidence of what is likely to happen with his or her use of acupuncture. Clearly it will take Consumer Reports awhile to trust what consumers in fact report.

Goldman interviews Escape Fire director for Holistic Primary Care

On November 1, 2012 Integrative Practitioner Online featured an interview with Escape Fire! filmmakers Mathew Heineman and Susan Froemke written by Erik Goldman, editor of Holistic Primary Care. The highly-regarded documentary cross-fertilizes inputs from conventional luminary Donald Berwick, MD and integrative medicine leader Andrew Weil, MD. States Heineman: “The frustration we saw (among doctors) at Andy Weil’s fellowship, the frustration we saw with [another MD interviewed] showed us that nobody’s happy. It requires change at all levels. We definitely became much more sympathetic to physicians, and aware of the handcuffs that they are shackled by.” Heineman closes the interviews optimistically: “I think we really are at a tipping point in America right now. Everyone recognizes that the situation is unsustainable and that it needs to be fixed.” 

Comment: When I was 18 I wrote a poem that went something like this: “There is a clarity in this fog/from the center one can see/as well each way … ” It must have been a harbinger of my still distant professional choices. It certainly describes Heineman’s basis for optimism.


Readers invited to participate in poll regarding shaping healthcare system from “a vitalistic frame”

The Octagon Institute of Life University is working to elevate the importance of vitalism in healthcare policy and practice. Stephen Bolles, DC, a sometime Integrator contributor who works as an organizer and developer of Octagon events notes that the Institute’s 2013 conference will “focus on the health of Millennials” and that as a lead-up, they have created a survey “to try to create a better understanding of the unique design elements this cohort is going to require for engagement, participation and change agency.” Bolles’ invite reads: “We’ve created a survey site at There are some introductory videos, a simple survey with five areas of questions [source of health (extrinsic/intrinsic), sources of information, sources of guidance, sources of economic support, sources of emotional/relational support], and the ability to see one’s answers in the context of the group that’s taken the survey.” The former consumer engagement leader for United Healthcare adds that there is “normal social media stuff too.” The Octagon Institute was conceived as “a forum for global conversation that connects health care philosophy, vitalism and integrated cultural and biological change.”

Society for Integrative Oncology begins monthly webinar series

Members of the Society for Integrative Oncology have a new benefit: a monthly webinar series which will feature some of the guiding lights and a number of past presidents of the influential organization. The first, from founding president Barrie Cassileth, PhD, was held November 6, 2012. The others are: December 6, 2012 6:00 PM,
Opportunities and Controversies in Integrative Oncology (Donald Abrams, MD); January 30, 2013 6:00 PM, Metabolic Effects of Exercise Relevant to Cancer Survival (Dawn Lemanne, MD, MPH); February 20, 2013 6:00, PM, Herb-drug Interactions in Cancer Care (K. Simon Yeung, PharmD, LAc); March 6, 2013 6:00 PM, Mind-body Research: Improving Outcomes in Cancer Care (Lorenzo Cohen, PhD); and April 10, 2013 6:00 PM, Acupuncture in Integrative Oncology (Gary Deng, MD).