CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Gratitude is the attitude

Gratitude is the attitude, science and religion agree, at least for maintaining healthy health.

A positive mental attitude (PMA) helps optimists outlive pessimists, and now a psychology professor is adding data to the debate:

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, discovered that keeping a gratitude journal changes people's lives, he explained to the ISU community Thursday in Tirey Hall.

"Ten years ago I tried to acclaim gratitude as scientific research," Emmons said.

His research consisted of randomly assigned, placebo and controlled experimental trials. The experiment ran for three to 10 weeks, with 1,000 participants ranging in age from eight to 80. During the experiment the subjects were asked to keep a journal and write down five things that they were grateful for.

The group that kept the gratitude journal had more physical energy, exercised an hour and a half more a week, slept more, were less lonely, more enthused and felt better overall.

"Six months after the experiment, the participants were spreading the word to their family and friends," said Emmons. The overall feeling of gratitude lasted up to a year after the journal trials.

"Gratitude is maximum enjoyment; gratitude mitigates toxic emotions (envy, resentment); gratitude is an element of psychological capital; and gratitude brings physical healing," Emmons said.

A site called Medicine and Brain Weekly comments on CAM use data:

the Medicine & Health channel, Revere of Effect Measure poses the question, Who uses alternative medicine and for what? The most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the CDC revealed that over 15 percent of adults in the U.S. use some form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for back pain, and a significant percentage also use unconventional methods for joint and neck pain, high cholesterol and other ailments. Altogether, nearly two in five adults used some form of CAM. Revere relates his own experience using acupuncture for unrelenting back pain, and questions whether alternative practices might at least do less harm than traditional medicine for certain afflictions, whether they "cure" the pain or not.

Reader Ana suggests one reason why some methods under the CAM umbrella are not widely supported:

I find it shameful that low-level labor-intensive "therapies" such as physiotherapy, gymnastics targeted to back pain, tai chi, mud baths, and others, are excluded from the Western modern medecine remit, and usually not reiumbursed by insurance or paid for by the State in semi - National Health care systems. The reasons are obvious: there is no money to be made, except by those who actually do the work, an they are rather modest in their expectations, and drain patient payments to them.

The magic knife and the magic pill offer the possibility of huge profits.

Yes, pros and cons will continue to be debated, with emotional inputs on both sides.

CAMlawblog makes a list of top 50 medical professor blogs:

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog. This blogger is both a practicing lawyer and was an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He currently writes about integrating complementary and alternative medicine into western medical practice.

A physician touts alternative healing methods, including biofeedback, some of which can be used by chiropractors:

That's the question that chief medical officer of Intemedica, John Diamond, is answering. Dr. Diamond, a physician trained as a pathologist, got into alternative healing almost twenty years ago as a result of his own health crises. "As far as I'm concerned, complementary and alternative medicine takes care of 80% of health issues in the general population."

Diamond believes the medical field is about to undergo an amazing transformation in the way it operates and delivers healing to patients. He believes primary care physicians will become obsolete by the year 2015 and in their place will spring alternative healing concepts such as chiropractors, Chinese medicine practitioners, acupuncturists and naturopaths. This is in reaction to the insurance crises going on in our country today. "The way medicine is going right now we're moving away from the disease model. We're moving to what we call the stress and coping model." Diamond believes that alternative and natural healing methods will best complement these changing models.

Dr. Diamond, working with other individuals, has come up with a new and fascinating way to utilize this stress and coping model with what he calls GSR biofeedback, a process similar to electro acupuncture. By simply placing a hand in an electrical cradle, the machine interrogates the patient's body and provides a wealth of information about where the stresses are occurring in the body. Connected to a computer program, information is also compiled regarding which specific formulas of Chinese herbs would best be suited to help the patient with whatever their specific needs are and all in about three and a half minutes.

How can chiropractors utilize this technology in their offices and how can it help them not only increase value for their patients but also increase their bottom line? According to Diamond it's simple. "We have a whole system that is very easily put into anybody's office with minimal outlay," says Diamond.

Once doctors have this equipment and stock in their offices, it takes only about thirty minutes to learn how to use it. All it takes is the ability to point and click the mouse. All updates to the software are done via the internet, as well as anything that's added to the program.

Another science blog divides medical and healing knowledge into possible and impossible, and articulates most of CAM within the latter:

Within the medical/biologic sciences, the basics of chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, histology, physiology, embryology, pharmacology, evolution and all their derivative fields (cardiology, surgery etc) are well established. New discoveries are made at amazing rates, but within the well established frameworks of the basic sciences. H. pylori, as an example, was found in my medical lifetime to be a cause of gastritis and stomach ulcers. When I was a medical student gastritis and ulcers were thought to be due to stress. Although met with some initial skepticism (8) no new basic science had to be discovered for Helicobacter to cause gastritis. One did have to alter ideas about where bacteria could live, but extremophiles do not violate any fundamental understanding of the biologic sciences. Helicobacter or HIV or Chronic Fatigue or all the other illnesses do not require a new form of biology.

Believing in something that is impossible, not implausible or improbable but impossible, is the sine qua non of CAM. CAM is continually trying to find the quadrature of the circle and if it appears to be impossible, then CAM practitioners find a new value for pi to account for the rationale behind their diagnoses and treatments.

CAM can be classified many ways. Today the way (9) is

Possible: mostly botanicals and herbal remedies. There is nothing impossible that a given plant product will affect a given disease, although often the provenance of a given herbal treatment is suspect.

Implausible: can't think of any at this point, although I am sure the comment section will show me the error of this particular way. The concept of prior possibility has been eruditely discussed by Dr. Atwood in this blog and he all too politely refer to CAM modalities as "implausible". CAM by and large is not implausible, they are

Impossible: the rest of CAM....."

A reader agrees that "Homeopathy is in essence magic, the casting of a magic spell. In fact, a better example of magical thinking is hard to come by."

Readers of my work should enjoy the part of Future Medicine where I discuss magical thinking and the way that contemporary psychiatry often mistakes expanded states of consciousness for pathology, simply because knowledge gained in these realms cannot fit within the conventional psychiatric model. We do need an expanded definition of mental health that can encompass healthy, productive spiritual experiences where the individual is also mature and grounded by conventional psychological markers, without being miscast as psychotic, borderline, and so on.

But then we are back to the debate between conventional and unconventional, which may mean rethinking what is means to be unconventional and whether the definitions have to stretch to accommodate fuller models of what it means to be human.

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