Patients are often reluctant to discuss the use of CAM with their physicians for fear of being rebuked or dismissed. Many physicians view alternative-based therapies as "quackery" and adopt an attitude of "semi-indulgent contempt," as described by one physician. Further complicating matters is the relative lack of practitioner knowledge and training on CAM modalities. Nudged forward by patient demand, this view is clearly changing and now more than 70 medical schools and 45 medical centers, including The Mayo Clinic and The Cleveland Clinic, have adopted integrative and alternative medical centers.
2000 years ago today, the year was AD 9. (on most calendars anyway) No cell phones, no cars, no health insurance. Things were pretty different, or were they? People still talked without cell phones, traveled without cars and got sick without insurance. What hasn’t changed in 2000 years is herbal medicine. Specifically, Chinese herbal medicine is not much different than what we use today.
2000 years ago if you caught a flu (let’s say in China), you went to a local doctor and a cure was given in the form of bark, roots, stems and leaves. You took home a little bag, boiled your raw Chinese herbs in water and then drank the water. Many people around the world do the same thing today using the same herbal formulas used 2000 years ago. But does the world remember this history? In Asia and the East the answer is a resounding yes. The West where “modern drugs” have a foothold the answer is… the tide is turning. Finding herbal medicine, what’s often referred to as “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) is getting easier.
One group supporting complementary medicine that has grown exponentially in just the last 10 years is The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. This group includes traditional medical schools across the country. Members include Stanford, Yale, Northwestern, Duke University and from The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota across the country to the University of Hawaii. Forty four medical schools in the U.S. have recognized the value in integrating western medicine with other modalities including herbs, acupuncture and incorporating the mind, body and spirit into modern medical practices.
Their mission is to advance the principles and practices of integrative health care within academic institutions. They support and mentor academic leaders, faculty, and students to advance integrative health care curricula, research and clinical care. They also disseminate information on rigorous scientific research, which includes research on Chinese herbal compounds. (connect here to a research study done on Chinese herbal medicines for people with impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting blood glucose)
As is often said, history repeats itself. I think we’re returning to our roots. (no pun intended) Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same and Chinese herbal medicine is proving just that, even after 2000 years.
In case your interested The Consortium’s website is: http://www.imconsortium.org/
As patient awareness of health and disease prevention has grown, so too has their interest in alternatives to traditional therapeutic disease-based options. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not currently part of conventional medicine." This may soon change with new health care legislation on the horizon.
Over the past 10 years, the therapeutic options afforded by CAM have blossomed into a $45 billion industry. Of this, $12 billion has been spent on CAM health practitioners including chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists. The remaining $33 billion is spent on stress reduction techniques including yoga and massage as well as on dietary supplements, primarily fish oil, glucosamine and echinacea.
In general, approximately 11 percent of out-of-pocket spending on health care in the United States is spent on CAM modalities, a number that has opened the eyes of many non-believers.