CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Physicians disagree on benefits of risks of alternative therapies

Integrative medicine physicians continue to flourish, while others debate the literature.

A local newspaper features a graduate of Andrew Weil's Program on Integrative Medicine who practices integrative care:

Like many in the medical profession, Marcellino believes the health care paradigm is already changing and the future lies in educating the public.

"Many chronic diseases can be prevented through lifestyle modification," says Marcellino, 29, who is board certified in family medicine and has special interests in integrative, preventative and wilderness medicine.

He's already practiced medicine halfway around the world, and he hopes to continue learning and traveling with an open mind in order to better serve patients as these shifts take place.

He inherited his adventurous and serving spirit from his Sicilian and Swedish ancestors who immigrated to America. His fraternal grandmother worked for the director of the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., and his great-aunt traveled extensively in Africa setting up schools for the poor.

His father was president of the International Venomous Snake Society and passed his love of snakes to his son.

"During summers in Phoenix, I accompanied him as he relocated rattlesnakes from people's homes to the countryside," Marcellino says.

He's still interested in snakes and the use of their venom to treat certain diseases.

This reptilian knowledge may be useful in future travels to remote parts of the world. He's traveled to Belize as a preceptor for medical students on a mission trip and spent time in rain forest villages sleeping in locals' huts. He treated Aborigines when he worked for the Sydney Aboriginal Medical Service in Australia.....

After medical school, Marcellino completed residencies at the Mayo Clinic, in Arizona and the Via Christi Family Medicine Center in Wichita. He was awarded a month "away rotation" at the University of Arizona's School of Integrative Medicine which was spearheaded by Andrew Weil, M.D., one of integrative medicine's leading pioneers.

"Integrative medicine is open to combining allopathic (conventional) medicine with complementary and alternative treatments. It advocates supporting patients to use whatever form of treatments best help them achieve good health, and prevent further problems," Marcellino says. "These shifts are happening whether we like them or not. Today, more people want to be proactive about their own health. As an allopathic medical doctor, I need to be open to support and educate people, especially young people, in this process."

Meanwhile, in Cebu (Phillipines), another physician cautions against inclusion of some alternative therapies:

Cancer patients who wish to use alternative forms of medication can do so but under the supervision of their physician, a Cebu-based oncologist said.

"This is not a 'no-no. The use of drugs and herbs have long been documented to have medicinal use," said Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud, director of the Cancer Center Institute at the Perpetual Succour Hospital.

While science greatly expedited the production of medicinal drugs into convenient, acceptable forms the differences in cultural beliefs still call for making herbal medicine in traditional ways.

An example is tea preparation wherein they are either dried or powdered, Tudtud said.

"The important thing for these supplements is that they have undergone the rigid scientific evaluation using clinical trials because we don't know all the ingredients in these extracts," he said.

In searching for a cure, Dr. Tudtud said recently developed scientific areas of cancer care introduced what is now called integrative medicine.

"(This means that) we integrate culture, integrate the use of complimentary treatments and alternative treatments," he said....

Dr. Tudtud said of the three, standard care treatment is in the mainstream since it is scientifically derived and covers clinical trials or scientific technique of investigation.

Complementary treatment comes when certain biologic, botanical or nutritional products are used in addition to standard treatment.

"Then when you use even these biologicals or botanicals instead or in lieu of standard care then it becomes alternative care," he said.

In using herbal medicines, Dr. Tudtud advises patients to choose their products well.

"Make sure these (herbal medicines) are as pure as they can be. The preparations especially those from our neighboring countries where traditional medicine is actively practiced," he said.

A Tampa hospital includes healing music as part of its CAM offerings:

Each day, more than 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer.

Fighting cancer can take all the strength and focus a person can find. Now, patients at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa are getting help from a special kind of treatment that doesn't come in a bottle. And for this therapy, all they have to do is listen.

Cancer patient Sue Simon says fighting cancer is tiring and tough, she says sometimes you think you'll never get out of it.

Sometimes, healing takes more than medicine. Once a critical care nurse, now Judy Ranney helps patients feel better with music.

Pet Promise markets its environmentally oriented products:

BOULDER, CO, Sep 11, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- With a promise to respect all animals and the earth, Pet Promise pet food upholds its mission to support U.S. farmers and ranchers who are committed to natural and sustainable methods. Pet Promise has been named an official sponsor of "Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic." Along with Farm Aid president Willie Nelson and board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews they urge Americans to eat local, humanely raised and organic food and to help support family farmers. The benefit concert takes place Sept. 20, at the Comcast Center, outside of Boston, or you can watch it live on DIRECTV's The 101 Network or online at Pet Promise is presently the only pet food that supports Farm Aid's efforts. In addition to being a sponsor of the event, Pet Promise is also donating Farm Aid pet bandanas for purchase at PETCO stores around the country starting this month. The bandanas are available for just $2, with all proceeds going to Farm Aid. By strictly sourcing natural U.S. raised meat and poultry, Pet Promise helps support over 1,500 U.S. farmers and ranchers committed to natural and sustainable methods to protect our environment and the humane treatment of animals. The positive impact these farmers have on the environment may be overlooked and unfortunately many go out of business each week and are often replaced by factory farms. "Factory farms are major offenders of the environment today. The amount of residues from antibiotics and hormones that goes into the water tables is significant," says world-renowned integrative medicine expert, Dr. Andrew Weil. "By choosing pet foods made with meat and poultry sourced from U.S. sustainable farms, you are sending a message about these practices, and helping to do something positive for the environment." Pet Promise has a two-part mission. First, a promise to produce a pure pet food made without the use of animal byproducts and rendered meat or chicken meals and made with protein sources from animals raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. And second, a commitment to environmental practices which involves sourcing meat and poultry exclusively from natural and sustainable U.S. farms and ranches. Discover the positive environmental impact your pet can make by switching to a pet food that sources its meat and poultry from U.S. sustainable farms at: Media Contact: Amy Summers 727-848-1618 ext. 202 Email Contact Pitch Inc.

Licorice is touted as the peacemaker for your digestive system:

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza globra) has been used for centuries as an endocrine gland tonic, gastrointestinal supporter, and sweetener for herbal remedies.Hippocrates called it glukos riza or sweet root. Licorice contains many nutrients including isoflavones, lignans, calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, silicon, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C. It is considered to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-allergy effects.

Licorice has estrogenic and steroidal properties that, by balancing estrogen/progesterone (hormone) levels, seems to help some women regulate symptoms of severe PMS and menopause. It is an adrenal gland tonic with cortisol-like activity.

One of the potential side effects of licorice may be high blood pressure. This is due to high levels of glycerheticinic acid in licorice, the effects of which can be similar to the adrenal hormone ACTH (thus leading to the retention of sodium and potassium and a following rise in blood pressure). Fortunately there are now supplements which are made from deglycyrrhized licorice (DGL) that carry the same healing properties as the pure licorice form.

Licorice has been used to help soothe ulcers, cleanse and tonify the liver, and alleviate spasm, stress, and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. It is often prescribed as part of Chinese herbal formulas, and is called the "peacemaker" by Chinese physicians. The ulcer soothing effects were discovered by chance. People who were taking a cough syrup made from licorice root that had been extracted and boiled down to a thick syrup soon discovered that their ulcers had healed! This was probably due to the high mucilage content of licorice root. It is still considered to be a potent expectorant. Licorice also tonifies the upper and lower gastroesophageal sphincters which can help alleviate symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

Health Rhythms offers music for the holistic soul:

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center ( will host the HealthRhythms Group Empowerment Drumming program on Sept. 12-14, 2008. Leading neurologist and mind-body researcher Barry Bittman, M.D., and music therapist Christine Stevens will present the program at the Lincoln Park facility in Midland, Pa. The workshop will show participants various group drumming exercises that can benefit their health. Those attending will also receive more information and research about group drumming. "The HealthRHYTHMS(R) program with Dr. Bittman and REMO is the first step in the development of a comprehensive recreational music making program at Lincoln Park," says Stephen Catanzarite, Lincoln Park's managing director. Hospitals, schools, corporations, and communities can use the drumming techniques to support overall well-being, according to Dr. Bittman's research. CNN Headline News featured Dr. Bittman to discuss his 2003 study that showed one company's employees had improved moods and reduced burnout rates after participating in group drumming sessions. Christine Stevens recently traveled to Iraq, where she used drumming to help resolve conflicts and empower Iraqi youths. The first lady of Iraq attended the sessions, and now drum circles are being used as a community building tool in the country. "Our goal is to offer music-based programs in hospitals for integrative medicine, in schools for classroom management, in corporations for employee wellness and teambuilding, and for community and intergenerational events," added Catanzarite. The Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center is located 45 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh and southeast of Youngstown. The $30 million facility opened in 2006 and is home to the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, a Pennsylvania public charter school providing a state-approved academic program along with professional training in music, theater, dance, creative writing, vocal performance and media arts. Everyone is invited to attend HealthRhythms. No prior music or healthcare experience is needed to participate in the program and drums will be provided. Members of the media are also welcome to attend the sessions. SOURCE Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center

This just in: "FIGHTING THROUGH IT Donna Wilson leads an exercise class for cancer patients at the Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center in Manhattan." Integrative medicine centers are everywhere.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173