Integrative medicine practice and legal issues continue to surface

Integrative medicine CDs, NCCAM survey, and thoughts on naturopathic medicine continue to bring legal and practice issues to the surface.

An integrative medicine CD offers hope to cancer patients:

CD offers 'Hope' to patients The Tribune-Democrat

The Integrative Medicine Advisory Council has purchased 100 copies of folk musician David Bailey's "Hope - An Anthology" to distribute free to those in the region being treated for brain tumors.

IMAC representatives and Dr. Alfred Bowles, chairman of Memorial Medical Center's Neuroscience Department, will present the CDs to local residents who attend the hospital's Brain Tumor Support Group.

Bailey, of Charlottesville, Va., is a 12-year brain cancer survivor whose lyrics have been described as "(finding) the hope in the impossible."

He is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of his cancer.

Bailey performed a live concert for brain tumor survivors in Johnstown in 2006.

The support group will meet from noon to 12:20 p.m. Tuesday in the atrium, near the grand piano, at Memorial, 1086 Franklin St., Johnstown.

Distribution of the CD is part of IMAC's mission to help individuals and health-care providers learn more about the role that complementary and alternative medicine can play in the healing process.

Naturopathic medicine is featured in another discussion of CAM use:

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are terms used to describe therapies that are outside the realm of traditional medicine, like acupuncture, massage or supplements. The term complementary medicine implies the treatments are combined with conventional medicine. When referred to as alternative medicine, the treatments are used instead of traditional medical therapy.

A survey by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found nearly 75 percent of American adults had tried some form of CAM. 38 percent of adults are currently using some form of alternative medicine. Women are more likely than men to use CAM. Some of the most popular CAM therapies include: prayer, natural products, deep breathing, meditation, chiropractic, yoga and massage. The conditions for which CAM therapy is most commonly used are back, neck and joint pain, colds, arthritis, mood disturbances, stomach aches, headaches, pain and insomnia.

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine is a branch of medicine that revolves around the body's natural ability to heal itself. Naturopathic physicians focus on treating the cause of illness, rather than simply alleviating symptoms. The treatments also use the most natural, least toxic methods possible to prevent illness and promote physical and mental health.

A Naturopathic Physician is a trained health care provider. Students have a bachelor's degree and four years of master's education at an accredited naturopathic medical school. After completion of clinic work and practical study, students are awarded the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.) degree.

Judy Fulop, N.D., M.S., Naturopathic Physician, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, says the most common reason patients seek help from a Naturopathic Physician is to avoid the side effects of some traditional medical treatments. In some cases, a traditional health care provider may refer the patient to a Naturopathic Physician because standard medicine isn't helping.....

For information on naturopathic medicine:
Alternative Medicine Foundation
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The article doesn't mention important legal issues such as the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors, whether naturopathic medicine can be considered primary care, legal rules surrounding the duty to refer, and integration of NDs into mainstream medical clinics and hospitals.

My Gone Thoughts recaps NCCAM comments on the survey of CAM use:

Complementary and alternative medical practices - which include health products and therapies that aren't generally considered part of conventional medicine - are frequently a part of Americans' health care regimens. That's the finding of a new survey released this month by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Thirty-eight percent of American adults are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine, known as CAM, to help with their health.

NCCAM Director Dr. Josephine Briggs says the new survey provides the most current, comprehensive and reliable source of information on Americans' use of unconventional remedies such as medicinal herbs, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.

Most of these patients, Briggs says, hope to alleviate pain.

"The most common reason why people turn to complementary and alternative medicine in our survey results is chronic back pain - far and away, the leading reason to use complementary and alternative medicine," she says. "Neck pain, joint pain, headache: All these other conditions are also given as common reasons. But chronic back pain is the leading reason, a very common and difficult condition to treat."

As the federal government's lead agency for scientific research into CAM therapies, the center funds hundreds of projects and trials, supports training for researchers and encourages integration of proven CAM therapies into conventional practice.

Another important part of NCCAM's mission is to publicize news and information about complementary and alternative medicine, and promote discussions about it between patients and their health care providers.

Briggs notes, "It is very important that people talk to their physicians and other health care providers about their use of complementary and alternative medicine."