AlterMed: Bridging the Gap between Conventional and Integrative Medicine

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by Becky Brewer

Chances are you know or have known a loved one with a chronic illness or cancer. If so, you probably have experienced first-hand frustration with conventional medicine due to the lack of root-cause treatments, preventative measures and/or possible cures. As far back as 400 BC, Hippocrates recommended a tea prepared from willow leaves, which contain salicylates, to treat labor pains. Today, aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is widely used to treat pain. However, before this remedy would be accepted by conventional medicine, thousands of years had passed. The key to general acceptance was peer-reviewed scientific research involving double-blind studies. Bringing effective complementary and alternative therapies to a widespread population requires funding to support sound scientific research and education.

AlterMed Research Foundation, dedicated to healthful living, is a non-profit organization committed to scientific research and education of complementary and alternative medicine (or integrative medicine) to manage, treat, and prevent human chronic illness and cancer. AlterMed bridges evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to conventional medicine by promoting quality research and education. Since its inception in 2006, AlterMed has successfully provided training for Northern Colorado medical residents in CAM topics, and in 2009 initiated and hosted the very first Colorado Integrative Medicine Conference: Focus on mind-body medicine. Sponsored by the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine for continuing medical education credits, this conference was attended by over 250 attendees; 95 percent of those surveyed rated the quality of the conference as very good to excellent.

In 2011, AlterMed will host the second Colorado Integrative Medicine Conference (cIMc 2011): Focus on Mind-Body Medicine & Lifestyle Management, July 15–17, at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado. Keynote speakers for cIMc 2011 are Dr. Richard Davidson, Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry, and Director of Waisman Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, and Dr. David L. Katz, Associate Professor of Public Health, Director of Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Davidson is both a distinguished scientific researcher and ardent spiritual seeker. Among his many accomplishments is the ground-breaking work in mind-body medicine that has stemmed from his collaborations with the Dalai Lama since 1992. This research is revealing that brain function can be altered through meditative training.

Dr. Katz is an internationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease, and an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and patient-centered care. Author of a number of popular books on obesity, health, and chronic illness prevention, Dr. Katz also contributes a monthly column to O, the Oprah Magazine, and regularly writes blogs for Prevention Magazine.

Topics for lectures/workshops for cIMc 2011 augment conventional medical training, and include: • Latest Meditation Research & Futures • Obesity and Health & Chronic Illness Prevention
• Eating Disorders & Addictions/Nutrition • Integrative Psychiatry - Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma • Yoga and Chronic Pain • Overcoming anxiety and depression • Evidence-based Ayurvedic Medicine • Spirituality in Medicine • Hormones and Mental Health

Today’s typical lifestyles lead to increasing rates of obesity and chronic illness. The July cIMc 2011 will focus on lifestyles, stress reduction, and dietary changes to naturally and effectively decrease the risk of health problems. With over 400 health professional attendees expected, this meaningful agenda promises that cIMc 2011 will successfully bring us that much closer to bridging this crucial gap.

Why is this so important? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic illness accounts for 70 percent of all deaths in the U.S. Truly, in the area of chronic illness, conventional medicine falls short. As a result, two-thirds of Americans have turned to CAM. However, only one percent of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) biomedical funds are allocated to CAM research, and pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to invest in un-patentable CAM research. Unfortunately, with such little research funding, effective CAM therapies take extensive time to be discovered and proven, while much of the population suffers and waits. AlterMed seeks to greatly accelerate effective CAM therapies, through acquiring and distributing funding that will support breakthrough quality education and research. With your help, we can alleviate human suffering due to chronic illnesses such as cancer, asthma, digestive disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and numerous others. Let’s not wait thousands of years as we did with aspirin. Please consider volunteering, donating or sponsoring, in support of our mission, and please join us for cIMc 2011! For more information on cIMc 2011 and AlterMed Research Foundation, please visit www.AlterMedResearch.org.

Becky is Research and Education Director of AlterMed Research Foundation. She is coauthor of Esstentials of General, Organic, and Biochemistry: An Integrated Approach, and seeks to facilitate awareness of effective alternative and complementary therapies to a widespread population.