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In the Driver’s Seat with Health Care

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The Center for Integrative Medicine at University of Colorado Hospital (TCIM), about 10 miles east of Denver Health, lists the following as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) they blend or integrate with their “conventional care” for the prevention and treatment of health conditions:

• Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
• Chiropractic Care
• Herb and Supplement Consultations
• Massage Therapy
• Mind-Body Therapy
• Nutritional Counseling
• Spiritual Counseling
• Yoga and Tai Chi

In describing their integrative approach to health, TCIM says this: “The correct ‘balance’ of CAM and conventional treatment is individualized, taking into account not only the medical condition but also the person – what may be appropriate for one person isn’t necessarily right for the next person with the same condition.”

“Patients don’t want to be sitting in the backseat of their medical delivery system. They want to be in the driver’s seat, and physicians want that, too,” said Dr. Alan Larson, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Palomar Pomerado Health. “In integrative medicine, the patient is in control most of the time.”

“We want to get integrative medicine into more (hospital) departments and show them the difference it can make in patients’ lives,” Larson said. “Although it takes a while to adopt new philosophies, in 10 or 20 years, I think what we (currently) know as integrative medicine will be conventional medicine.”

Dr. Mimi Guarneri, the Medical Director and Founder of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, California, calls our current health care system “the perfect storm.”

“Chronic disease management is costing the country $2.5 trillion a year for diseases that are preventable,” she said. “We spend more money on drugs than ever before. Of all the pills produced in the world, 47 percent of them are consumed in America. We can’t keep this up. We need to turn the ship around and focus on prevention first.”

“Integrative medicine is the only plan in town for the prevention of disease. Prevention is the key to better health care so integrative medicine is the key,” Guarneri said. “We’re not just treating diseases when they occur, but we’re looking at how we can change a patient’s risk or reverse the disease.”

But listen to how Guarneri describes where healing comes from: “At Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, we take a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellness. We believe that health is dynamic, continually influenced by how we live our lives and how we relate to the world around us. And, we believe that healing starts from within.”

Wow! The best treatment is individualized treatment, where the patient is in control, and healing starts from within. We are in control of our health after all.

Maybe that explains why in my own experience, I’ve found a spiritual, prayer-based approach to health and wellness that is reliable, effective, and always available. And I know I’m not alone. Surveys have shown that among many Americans, prayer is one of the most often-used alternative therapies for healing results.

In fact, in the 19th century Mary Baker Eddy recognized that healing starts from within and devoted an entire first chapter in her seminal work, Science & Health, with Key to the Scriptures, to the topic of prayer as a healing practice.

Her concept of prayer was more mental than verbal, more affirmation of what is true and real than petition to a divine being. She said, “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual – neither in nor of matter – and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well.” (page 14; lines 12-16)

I would suggest the growth of integrative medical practices in hospitals and clinics around the country is another response to society’s demand for effective health care reform that recognizes a wide variety of healing therapies – alternative and conventional, spiritual and matter-based, but all subject to the principle of individual freedom and choice.

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About Peter Van Vleck

  • Interesting to see what’s happening around the world re. CAM. I attended the Australian 18th International Integrative Medicine Conference in Melbourne, a few weeks ago. I found their segment with daily key speakers and workshops, “The Spirit of Medicine” most interesting. The qualities love, compassion, patience etc. came up often as being important for healing; some of the attendees were moved to tears. Healthcare workers are suffering stress etc. etc. and are desperate to find “hearts in healthcare”, which in turn will help them overcome burnout and better patient outcomes. At the same time, there’s an organised group in Australia trying to stop CAM being taught in Australian universities.

  • Peter Van Vleck

    Thanks, Carey, for bringing us up-to-date on CAM in Australia. Finding hearts in “healthcare” ought to be a worldwide goal.

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