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Your Comments: Integrative Med Definition of IM, Bias at the NYT, and AAHF's Role as Defender ... PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Your Comments: Changed Definition of IM, Bias at the NYT, and AAHF's Roles as Defender ...

Summary:  The effort of Michael Levin to hold the New York Times accountable stimulates Lou Sportelli, DC to challenge Big Media biases. Then Scottish licensed homeopath Wendy Howard, LHom, DHom links the NYT (in)action to some excellent materials on the suppression of complementary medicine in Switzerland  ...  Candace Campbell, former executive director of the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) underscores the depths of the need for activity to defend unconventional practices while holistic medicine leader Bill Manahan, MD focuses on the importance of looking at our own issues .. The collaborative work to change the definition of integrative medicine provokes an additional question from massage educator Cathy Ayers, LMT, NCTMB and kudos (and a comment on scatology) from holistic leader and grandfather Manahan ...

1.    Don't Count on the Big Media for Truth on Supplements

Image
Lou Sportelli, DC
Chiropractic leader and president of Integrator sponsor NCMIC Group, Lou Sportelli, DC, believes the Integrator article on Michael Levin's challenge to the New York Times coverage ("Disquieting Journalistic Ethics: Michael Levin Challenges New York Times and Dietary Supplement Basher Dan Hurley"
) underscores bias in all major media. Sportelli last commented here on the importance of distinguishing between good clinical MDs and the sometimes detrimental policies of the AMA.
"Of course the NY Times will not print Michael Levin's article any more than they would print a balanced article on the Iraq war. Prior to the internet and the Blogs there was virtually no mechanism to counter the BIG DAILY NEWSPAPERS with power, prestige and prominence. Today a small little blog, containing factual information and thought provoking commentary such as Michael Levin's response to the truly disquieting Hurley article, will have as much force as the NY Times.

"The networks and the newspapers do not dominate the thoughts of the American people any longer.  Yes they may influence and create panic, but they no longer have the lasting power to persuade.

"The knowledge revolution and the information highway have truly enabled freedom to exist. Freedom of thought, information and choice. The truth will eventually prevail. Thank you Michael Levin."

Lou Sportelli, DC
President, NCMIC

Image
UK homeopath Wendy Howard, LHom, DHom
Sportelli proved to be right. The NYT not only turned down Integrator advisor Levin's excellent letter, it also refused to print a letter from the American Botanical Council. The following story of suppression then came in from Wendy Howard, LHom, DHom, a licensed homeopathic practitioner in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders, according to her artful blog at smeddum.net.

"These initiatives on the part of the pharmaceutical industry and its supporters have been gathering momentum in the last few years.

"The masterly PR campaign behind the 'meta-analysis' (was it ever!) published in The Lancet in August 2005, and proclaimed by the journal's editor as 'an end to homeopathy,' featured it on prime time television news and the front pages of most of the main newspapers in the UK. However, the monstrous scandal behind this study has never been publicised, at least not by the mainstream news.

"If you don't already know about this, the Shang et al meta-analysis was an offshoot from a Swiss government study, the Programm Evaluation Komplementärmedizin (PEK), which was designed to allow politicians to assess whether or not certain complementary therapies should be included in the list of services covered by the Swiss compulsory health insurance scheme. The story of how the PEK study, initially hailed as an exemplar for future CAM research, was completely derailed by vested pharmaceutical interests makes some reading. I summarised it in a blog entry last March available by clicking here. The study itself is an appalling example of scientific 'research' and has been roundly condemned (see comments here)." (bold added)

Best, Wendy Howard, LHom, DHom
www.smeddum.net
   
"We must provide
hand grenades against
complementary
medicine."


Statement reportedly
from
a participant in
Swiss Academy of Medical
Science meeting


Comment: The story of the Swiss government's suppression of complementary approaches and practitioners was reported in the Integrator here  I reported it in the context of the US Congress' collusion with back surgeons in stemming the rise of chiropractic and potentially that of other non-conventional approaches via killing the former Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. I looked at Ms. Howard's blog entry. It's worth a visit. Note this gem regarding the Swiss government's suppression of a study of various complementary approaches:
"(Switzerland is) also ranked 8th in terms of the major exporting countries of chemical and pharmaceutical products. Around 5% of current global pharmaceutical R&D is attributable to Swiss companies. Since many university medical research laboratories would cease to exist without the support of the pharmaceutical industry, it's perhaps no surprise that 'at the end of 2004, professors of the medical faculties had expressed the intention at a meeting of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences ... to do everything in their power to prevent complementary medicine remaining in the basic insurance.' A dean voiced the prevailing opinion: 'We must provide hand grenades [literal quotation, personal communication of a participant of that conference] against complementary medicine.'"

2.    On the Role of the American Association of Health Freedom as a Defender


In my comments on the article on the new strength of the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF), I reflected on the sometimes polarizing stance of those who focus on defending non-conventional practitioners and supplements against ("American Association for Health Freedom Strengthens Organization, Steps up Federal and State Action"
). Holistic medicine leader and Integrator advisor Bill Manahan, MD, quickly wrote to support the comments.
"I continue to love your thinking and your writing ... The latest example was your comments on the mission and actions of the American Association for Health Freedom as they attempt to lobby in Washington, D.C.
 
"We are all brothers and
sisters.  So when we
make someone else the
enemy, we are ultimately
only hurting ourselves.

"
I suspect that we would
be further ahead if we went
inside a bit more rather than
projecting out our inner rage,
inadequacies, and pain ..."

"What I understood you to say was that you had some reservations regarding the AAHF's approach to lobbying because so much of it was based on fear.  You do not discount that there are enemies 'out there' doing bad things. But then you beautifully stated that 'opportunities for healing are often washed out by polarizations searing heat.'  You go on to add that polarization can lead to an avoidance of our own shadow side.

"Martin Luther King and Gandhi would stand up and cheer if they were still around.  I believe that it is so important that we continually are aware that we are connected energetically, spiritually, and probably molecularly to every other person.  We are all brothers and sisters.  So when we make someone else the enemy, we are ultimately only hurting ourselves.  As you say, I suspect that we would be further ahead if we went inside a bit more rather than projecting out our inner rage, inadequacies, and pain ..."

Bill Manahan, MD

Founding President
American Board of Holistic Medicine

Image
Integrated health care policy leader Candace Campbell
I then asked AAHF's founding director, Candace Campbell, a savvy national policy leader in integrated care, to comment on the issue. Campbell is no longer with AAHF but remains supportive of the mission. Campbell last commented here on the challenges to the NIH NCCAM.
"What if the 'threats' were called 'challenges' or 'areas where policy changes are needed?' I understand how you feel about fear-mongering, but in the case of harassed practitioners, their fears are legitimate. (Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one's out to get you.)

   
"As (past) executive director
of AAHF, not a week went by
when I didn't get a phone call
or hear a story about another
MD being sanctioned, harassed,
or indicted for using 'non-
conventional' approaches."

"As (past) executive director of AAHF, not a week went by when I didn't get a phone call or hear a story about another MD being sanctioned, harassed, or indicted for using 'non-conventional' approaches. Their patients were thriving but they were being punished, usually for thinking outside the allopathic box. It was frustrating and exhausting. Unfortunately, the only ones who seemed to be worried were their colleagues. Patients are blissfully unaware unless their doctor gets targeted. The media are unaware or have been fed a line by the Quackbusters so publicity is an uphill battle. Policy makers are unaware or don't want to get involved because they really don't know enough to engage in a meaningful debate.

"I believe the threats are very real and must be addressed. AAHF was founded in direct response to the FDA's attack on Dr. Jonathan Wright, and the organization's activities are a direct reflection of the fears and concerns of its members. That's what a good association does. In addition, as the environment changes, the membership changes, the board changes, so then must the organization's activities change.


 
 
"If human nature were

any different, maybe it
wouldn't be necessary
to scare people into action.

"But every single
association and politician
understands the need
to stir the pot."

"I'm extremely proud of what is occurring under (AAHF current director Brenna Hill's) leadership. She has a very different set of skills and a different perspective than me, which is a good thing for AAHF's growth. [I like to think that the successes achieved during my tenure led to the funding success they are now enjoying, but that may be pure ego.] In any case, I'm thrilled that the association is thriving, especially because I don't see any other organizations doing what AAHF is to protect practitioners and educate the public, the media and Congress.

"You and I also know how hard it is to raise money and motivate people to act. If human nature were any different, maybe it wouldn't be necessary to scare people into action, but every single association and politician understands the need to stir the pot. You may not be comfortable with this tactic, but it clearly works. Such is life."
 


3.    Cooperation Lauded, Further Questions Raised on Definition of "Integrative Medicine"


Image
Massage educator Cathy Ayers, LMT, NCTMB
Cathy Ayers, LMT, NCTMB
comments on the successful work to get "healthcare professionals and disciplines" into the definition of integrative medicine propounded by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. (
"Integrative Medicine" Definition Changed by Conventional Academics at Request of CAM Academics"). Some of Ayers work with Georgetown University was the focus of an earlier Integrator article.
"I am encouraged that the definition includes providers as well as therapies. It is an important step in recognizing the validity of CAM therapies.

 
"The term
'Integrative Medicine'
still feels exclusionary
to me."
 
"However, the term 'Integrative Medicine' still feels exclusionary to me. As a massage therapist, I am excluded from practicing medicine. Licensed massage therapists are considered health care providers. 'Integrative Health Care' feels less like 'them and us' and more like a team of respected providers of recognized disciplines."

Cathy M. Ayers, LMT, NCTMB
Director of Education
Potomac Massage Training Institute

Meantime, Bill Manahan, MD, links the sounds of the acronyms of the two educator consortia* to a certain aspect of his grandfatherly work, and then notes the importance of this growing collaboration. Manahan is quoted above and also  last commented here on the CTCA battle in Washington state.

"Congratulations on a wonderful piece of writing in the recent Integrator Blog.  I was doubled over my computer laughing at your wit and clever prose.  I am referring to the article regarding CAHCIM and ACCAHC.  As I was reading the article and saying the initials, I began to wonder if the entire integrative movement is just too full of poop to be taken seriously.  Maybe I have been taking care of my grandchildren too much, but when I saw your 'scatological resonant' reference, I realized that I was not alone in my wonderment. 


"Hopefully this CAHCIM
and ACCAHC joint action
of changing the definition
of integrative medicine
is a first step at true
integration and collaboration
among healers."

 
"Seriously, I believe the kind of cooperation and reasonableness that you described is profound and historical.  Congratulations and kudos to the members of both groups.  You state in your article, John, that patients could suffer if we in the healthcare system do not begin to cooperate.  Patients across the U.S. ARE suffering every day because of the reluctance of MD's and DO's to collaborate and cooperate with other licensed healthcare providers.  We are too frequently not referring patients out of the medical system when it would often be appropriate and helpful to the patients to do so. 

"Hopefully this CAHCIM and ACCAHC joint action of changing the definition of integrative medicine is a first step at true integration and collaboration among healers."

Bill Manahan, MD
Founding President
American Board of Holistic Medicine

* CAHCIM = Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine
   ACCAHC = Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care



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