Top 10 of '10
Health care reform embraces elements of CAM
CAM studies demonstrate cost savings and effective health outcomes
Prevalence of natural treatments among women with breast cancer
Dr. Oz highlights Reiki as his top alternative medicine secret for 2010
ND-authored books garner widespread attention and accolade
Clinical studies highlight pain-reducing benefits of Tai Chi and acupuncture
Brain health, anti-aging and anti-cancer effects of nutrition-based medicine demonstrated
CNME renewed by U.S. Department of Education
New research and global organizations formed
- Christine Girard, ND, named AANP Physician of the Year
Top 10 CAM News Stories 2010
(January 2011) — 2010 was a year like no other in terms of public focus on health care. The process that led to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act* served to highlight many of the prevention, wellness and affordability issues long known about by those in the world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Our top 10 news stories of 2010 reflect the growing public demand for, and use of, safe and effective natural choices; the growing evidence base that supports their effectiveness; and the highly professional nature of the field of naturopathic medicine. Here’s what caught our attention in the past year:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010* integrates some key aspects of CAM, such as preventive care and good nutrition. Although the law also comes packaged with some non-naturopathic, perhaps pro-pharmaceutical components, the law's Prevention and Public Health bill establishes significant disease prevention incentives. Among the bill's accomplishments are:
Creation of a new federal inter-agency council that will develop a national health strategy.
Establishment of an investment fund dedicated to prevention and public health programs.
An increase in doctor training.
Improvement of coverage for preventive services, such as mammograms, and the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for such services.
Additional funding for community initiatives that support more walkable communities, more healthful school environments and better access to nutritious foods.
- Legal requirements that chain restaurants provide a "nutrient content disclosure statement" for each menu item.
In her article What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Natural Health Providers and Nutritionists?, Bastyr’s Dr. Jane Guiltinan outlines three potential benefits of this bill for NDs, future NDs and their patients:
Specific inclusion of licensed CAM providers and integrative health care practitioners (including NDs) in measures designed to increase the number of primary care providers and other health care professionals in the workforce.
Provisions for patient research that evaluate integrative medicine treatments and services.
Incentives for employers to create employee wellness programs.
For more details on the Act, see the Health Insurance Reform at a Glance Implementation Timeline.
*2011 Update: The House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal this 2010 health care law on January 19, 2011. On the same day, an NBC/WSJ poll reported that less than half of Americans were in favor of the repeal. At the time of this publication, the repeal bill is not expected to pass the Senate; and if it were to pass both houses, President Obama has pledged to veto it. However, Republican leaders have promised additional efforts to hamper implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
With so much recent attention on health care costs, CAM researchers determined to approach the issue from a scientific standpoint.
At Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), doctors instituted a unique study of naturopathic treatment for patients with elevated cardiovascular risk. Preliminary results found the naturopathic treatment to be effective, from both a financial and a medical standpoint. Lead researcher Dugald Seely, ND, received the Award of Outstanding Achievement: Best Research at the 25th annual American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) convention for this latest in a series of collaborative studies with the Canadian postal service. The study found multiple clinical benefits to postal service employees being treated with naturopathic medicine, plus cost savings estimated at $1,025 per participant. Such “proof of cost-savings will ultimately drive access to integrative care,” said Integrator Blog columnist and adviser Michael Levin.
- Also in 2010, Australian researchers from Access Economics working with the University of Western Sydney found in their study, Cost effectiveness of complementary medicines, that herbal preparations, acupuncture and omega‑3s could save Australia more than $220 million every year in various health care costs. Specifically, the report found:
1. Replacing pharmaceutical antidepressants with St. John’s wort, which clinical trials have shown to be as effective as standard drug treatments for mild to moderate depression, could save nearly $50 million a year.
2. If all Australians with osteoarthritis who take non-steroidal anti‑inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were to switch to the herbal preparation Phytodolor, there would be a potential cost saving of up to $178 million a year.
3. Treating back pain with acupuncture was found to reduce absenteeism and increase work effectiveness, creating still more cost benefits.
In a 2010 study, Michigan State University College of Nursing researcher Gwen Wyatt found that in a group of more than 200 women diagnosed with breast cancer, 57 percent were using CAM therapies. The most widely used therapies were nutritional supplements and other biological-based approaches, followed by mind-body therapies that utilize audio, video, and music therapy. Wyatt found that less expensive therapies tend to be used more often, and that women with no college education are less likely to use CAM therapies. Wyatt also learned that patients with more severe types of cancers were more likely to use multiple therapies. As a follow-up to these results, Wyatt is developing an informational resource to help women determine which therapies will be most effective for them.
Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in U.S. women. In North America, over 40,000 people die of breast cancer each year; the continent has the highest incidence of breast cancer at 90 per 100,000 women, a statistic that is even higher in the U.S. at 122 per 100,000 women. Eastern Asia, South Central Asia, and sub-Sarahan Africa have the lowest incidence of breast cancer, at 18, 22 and 22 per 100,000 women, respectively.
Dr. Mehmet Oz highlighted Reiki as his top alternative medicine secret on a January 2010 episode of his nationally broadcast talk show. Reiki Master Pamela Miles, who has administered Reiki to Dr. Oz’s patients during open-heart surgery, demonstrated the palm energy healing technique on an audience member who was suffering from a headache, which quickly disappeared.
Dr. Oz also recommends mud baths for arthritis treatment, aromatherapy oils for stress relief, black cohosh and sage for menopausal symptoms, yoga for high blood pressure, sauna sittings for cold and flu prevention, and cupping for joint pain. He utilizes a number of CAM therapies when practicing open-heart surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Oz and his wife, Lisa Oz, were conferred honorary Doctor of Natural Health Arts and Sciences degrees from Bastyr University in 2010.
These five ND-authored books, released in 2010, reflect the wide range of expertise provided by naturopathic professionals across North America.
The Hormone Diet: A 3-Step Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Strength, and Live Younger Longer, by Natasha Turner, ND (CCNM), educates readers about the power of hormones over the body’s functions, and how even minor hormonal imbalances can cause fatigue, sugar cravings and difficulty losing weight. The book outlines a three-step program for identifying hormonal imbalance, helps readers create personalized plans, and has reportedly led to significant weight loss for men and women of all ages.
The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing, by Lise N. Alschuler, ND (Bastyr), and medical journalist Karolyn A. Gazella, both cancer survivors, receives a five-star Amazon rating for its easy-to-understand integration of conventional cancer treatment with evidence-based alternative treatments. Updated and expanded, review after review declares this book to be THE definitive cancer guide — for both prevention and treatment.
Your Skin, Younger: New Science Secrets to Naturally Younger Skin, by Alan Logan, ND (CCNM), focuses on attaining younger-looking skin without synthetics, cosmetics, Botox or surgery. Full of skin-healthy recipes, wrinkle-free sleep habits, dietary supplement information, recommended power foods and foods to avoid, the book has been featured on numerous popular beauty magazines and websites. Dr. Logan graduated as valedictorian of the CCNM class of 2001.
The Lyme Diet, by Nicola McFadzean, ND (Bastyr), has garnered praise for its empathetic approach to and on-target diet treatment of the debilitating effects of the tick-borne Lyme disease, effects that include chronic pain, fatigue and brain fog.
- Living with Crohn's & Colitis: A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness, by Jessica Black, ND (NCNM), and Dede Cummings, Crohn's patient, also boasts a perfect Amazon rating. Recommended for anyone with gastrointestinal concerns, the book is reader friendly because it combines Ms. Cumming’s personal journey living with Crohn's with Dr. Black’s medical expertise.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, Chi is a bodily energy vital to health. The practice of Tai Chi, a meditative martial art, and acupuncture, a medicinal therapy using small needles, both work to keep energy channels open so that Chi can flow smoothly to the body's organs.
An August 2010 article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recommended acupuncture for a patient with lower back pain, a condition affecting 70 percent of people in Western industrialized societies. In May 2010, a University of Rochester research team found that acupuncture may work by releasing adenosine, a neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve cells in response to injury, acting like a local anesthetic. Normal mice treated with acupuncture demonstrated a 2/3 reduction in pain, while mice genetically engineered not to produce adenosine were not affected by the treatment.
- In a study partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Tai Chi was found to lessen the severity of fibromyalgia, which is among the top 10 conditions treated by NDs. Study participants reported improved function, improved ability to move and sleep, and reduced pain and fatigue, with no negative side effects. Notably, NCCAM has identified the treatment of chronic pain as a promising area for additional study in its 2011–2015 strategic plan. In 2010, NCCAM conducted a total of 28 CAM-related clinical studies.
Clinical nutrition is one of the therapeutic modalities covered in the curriculum at every ND school, and for good reason. A number of 2010 studies demonstrated the importance of nutrition to many aspects of health:
Trials in the U.S. and U.K. found that people who drank blueberry juice or smoothies showed significant improvements in learning and memory. The U.S. study also indicated fewer signs of depression and lower blood sugar levels. Similarly, another study found that a diet containing blueberries could slow and even reverse age-related decline in mental function in rats.
A 14-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that people with plenty of the antioxidant alpha-carotene in their blood were at less risk of dying from a life-threatening disease. High levels of alpha-carotene, found in yellow-orange veggies like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes, and dark, leafy greens like kale, broccoli, spinach and collard greens, were associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. On the other hand, people with low levels of alpha-carotene had higher levels of mortality, cancer and heart disease.
Dr. G. Paul Amminger of The University of Melbourne in Australia studied the benefits of fish oil (omega-3s) to young people determined to be at risk for developing schizophrenia. After one year, only 5 percent of the participants who took omega-3s had developed a psychotic disorder, compared to 28 percent of those who took a placebo. Participants who took fish oil also showed significant reductions in psychotic symptoms and improvements in function, and they experienced no greater adverse effects than those taking the placebo.
In three studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Honolulu, regular tea drinking, sufficient vitamin D levels and significant physical activity were all shown to reduce the risk of brain decline in study participants.
- For eight years, Mayo Clinic researchers have studied the effects of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) — the major component of green tea — on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In July 2010, Tait Shanafelt, MD, a Mayo Clinic hematologist and lead author of the study's latest phase, said that while more research is needed and that it does not replace chemotherapy, EGCG may stabilize and even slow the progress of CLL.
In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Education unanimously recommended the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) for the maximum five-year renewal of recognition from the National Advisory Committee for Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). Recommended for renewal with no adverse findings, CNME is the national accrediting agency for all programs in North America leading to ND or NMD degrees. Students and graduates of programs accredited or pre-accredited (in candidacy status) by the CNME are eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), and upon passing the exam are eligible for state and provincial licensure in the United States and Canada.
CNME’s grant of accreditation to a program indicates to prospective students and the public that they may have confidence in the program's educational quality.
Michael Cronin, ND, co-founder and past president of Southwestern College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM), has founded the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI). This new organization’s mission is to stimulate, organize, fund, conduct and disseminate research on the clinical practices of naturopathic physicians and the outcomes of their work, the goal being to improve both naturopathic medical practice and the health of patients and communities.
In May 2010 the Naturopathic Global Health Council (NGHC) was formed as a membership alliance of Natural Doctors International (NDI). NGCH’s mission is to provide those striving for improvement and equity in global health, specifically in naturopathic global health, with the information and resources they need to successfully accomplish their mission. NGHC membership is open primarily, but not exclusively, to health care professionals and naturopathic organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, corporations, government agencies and academic institutions.
SCNM Executive Vice-President of Academic and Clinical Affairs Christine Girard, ND, was named the 2010 Physician of the Year by the AANP. Dr. Girard was recognized for her significant accomplishments on three important fronts: advancing the quality of naturopathic medical education, inspiring residency programs and expanding opportunities for research.
As the former director of naturopathic medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dr. Girard has helped pioneer the entry of more naturopathic physicians into mainstream hospitals. She recently founded the Naturopathic Post-Graduate Association, which provides students with a universal application and match process that increases the number and improves quality of CNME-approved naturopathic residencies, with a goal of a residency for every graduate.
The topics above are not intended to compose an all-inclusive list of the CAM developments that happened in 2010, but rather to highlight just a few of the many advancements that occurred over the last 12 months. Naturopathic medicine is a dynamic, constantly expanding field, and naturopathic physicians are always looking for new methods and research that will help their patients. These stories are wonderful examples of the many ways in which naturopathic medicine is improving patients’ lives.
For more information on health care advancements in 2010, read Time magazine’s 2010 report: Top 10 medical breakthroughs.
As more and more North Americans visit naturopathic doctors every year, complementary and alternative medicine is fast becoming an accepted sector of health care. Is 2011 the year you'll begin your naturopathic education? Explore ND career paths and opportunities.
And for the academic news highlights of year 2010, read Naturopathic Medical Schools - Milestones 2010.
Patty Bates-Ballard is the owner of WordSmooth, an inclusive communications company. Mother of two and co-author of the book Navigating Diversity, she is an advocate of respect for the earth and its people. Patty has written extensively on diversity, ecology, wellness and politics for a range of publications, including Environmental News Network and Environmental Design + Construction magazine.