'Meditating to Physical and Mental Health' Features CAMlaw

Meditating to Physical and Mental Health by health care attorney Jayne E. Juvan of Juvan's Health Law Update recently featured the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog.

Writes Juvan:

Speaking of the growing popularity of Asian healing and spirituality, in a recent Washington Post article, Ellison writes, "As our big demographic bulge of boomers hits the years when mortality truly starts to sink in, Asian spirituality has suddenly become more mainstream than ever."

Ellison also writes of a woman who, like her, turned to meditation during a time of suffering. Though the woman said that she initially resisted meditation, writing it off as "New Agey" and weird, and concerned about potential brainwashing, her opinion changed after her first experience, when meditating "brought [her] mind and body into the same timezone, [giving her] a sense of wholeness and peace [she'd] never experienced before." She also experienced several other defining moments. During one moment, she recognized the reality of her own mortality and questioned, "So what am I going to do with my life? Am I doing the right thing with the short time I have on Earth?"

Indeed, as the article suggests, meditation, as well as integrative medicine therapies, can serve to help patients cope with illnesses and individuals in good physical health to deal with the daily stresses of life and emotional traumas. Meditation, yoga, massotherapy, reiki, and Therapeutic Touch, for example, are just a few non-traditional (at least in a Western sense) therapies available. I personally have experienced the benefits of these therapies, as I practice yoga to decrease stress and level out energy fields. My mother, a Her-2 positive breast cancer survivor, also turned to reiki and meditation through her Adriamycin/Cytoxan chemotherapy treatments. Still to this day, she cites to these treatments when she discusses her treatment experience, saying that they helped her to cope with the horrifying side effects of chemo and the emotional pain that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

From a legal perspective, though many integrative medicine therapies are safe and may even be effective, the current legal and regulatory scheme in the United States makes it difficult for patients to gain access to these therapies. Most insurance companies do not provide coverage for integrative therapies. States and medical boards also fail to license and credential CAM providers in a fashion similar to that of physicians and other providers of conventional medicine. Such legislative recognition, however, could bring increasing credibility to these practices. Traditional Western medicine providers can also face direct liability for referrals to CAM providers. Michael H. Cohen, the leading scholar and authority in the United States on the legal issues facing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), provides a table of potential CAM liability grounds on his Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog. For example, clinicians and associations may be liable for referrals to CAM providers on vicarious liability grounds, for patient abandonment, negligent referral or delay of effective conventional medical treatments.

Cohen has worked tirelessly to bring credibility to CAM and integrative medicine therapies and to bring about change in the law in the United States so that these therapies are made available to more individuals. In addition to being an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, he is also the founder of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine.

Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.