CAM can help with hospital stays

A psychiatrist and neurologist writes that complementary and alternative medicine can help with hospital stays.

He is the Chairman of Psychiatry and Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Pocono Medical Center, and writes to someone who is asking whether
Complementary and Alternative Medicine really works:

CAM offers a safe outlet for the stress and anxiety related to medical treatment and is regarded as a legitimate, acknowledged field of medicine. In fact, CAM was cited last year at the National Nursing Conference as helping patient satisfaction and overall wellness.....

A popular example of CAM is pet therapy. If you have a pet, you know how calming it can be to pet an animal. In fact, medical research has shown that petting an animal and watching tropical fish actually lowers blood pressure.

At PMC, specially trained therapy dogs are available on all floors except for the OR and ob-gyn departments. In fact, if you'd like a dog to visit you at your bedside, you may have your doctor "prescribe" one.

CAM can also help you learn to relax. A main focus of CAM is to help patients feel at ease. Guided imagery can be used to help release tension. Basic classes in restorative yoga and qi gong may be available during your hospital stay. If your doctor permits, attending an introductory class is a good way to help you learn how to relax.

Art and music can also offer health benefits and are offered by CAM. In a study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, art making was shown to be associated with significant improvements in health status, quality of life and coping behaviors for cancer patients.

Clinical studies have shown that music can induce relaxation and also boost immune function. For example, patients undergoing bone marrow transplant had significantly decreased pain and nausea after listening to soothing music. In addition, stress hormones such as cortisol were significantly reduced.

Writing can also help you relax. Our CAM therapist can teach you how to write in a journal or creatively tell a story. Journaling, which can be as simple as making a list of concerns or the things that you treasure, can also help relieve stress and anxiety.

CAM can help complement any medical treatment, principally by allowing the patient to relax. Research shows that the calmer you are, the faster your recovery is likely to be. So breathe, stretch, paint a picture or pet a dog. And try to think of your medical treatment as time to heal both your body and your mind.

Although he primarily cites relaxation benefits of common therapies that are not necessarily CAM, he does frame the answer in a very natural, common sense way that appeals to both patients and other physicians.

Other news:

A woman has opened a Reiki center and hopes to bring energy healing to the military. "Police officers, firefighters and returning soldiers have traumatic experiences on the job they leave unchecked," she says. The article responds that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) 'cautions users not to substitute Reiki for medical care and notes that "accepting its teachings ... is a matter of faith."' I'm not sure where that quote came from, but it's probably in the energy medicine program part of the website.