“Integrative light.” The term began to be used in the late 1990s by some community-based holistic, integrative, functional, and naturopathic medicine practitioners to discount and dismiss actions in the then emerging field of academic integrative medicine. I was reminded of this knee jerk tendency toward disparagement recently when a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) sent an email query asking for names of any medical schools that “really support integrative medicine and have legit programs.” The question fell within days of receiving an annual report from one such center born in that period 23 years ago, now the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago’s downtown. It struck me that it might be useful to examine the myriad ways that at least one such entity is at work to shift medicine toward a healthier model.
In 2001, Mayo Clinic received a transformative jolt of integrative energy at a fortuitous moment. The institution was about to celebrate the opening of the 21-story Gonda Building. What a Minnesota news account called a “transformative project” was funded originally with a $45-million bequest from Southern Californians Leslie and Susan Gonda. Their daughter, Lucy Gonda, then an activist and philanthropist in the emerging integrative medicine field, recognized an opportunity. There would likely be no better time to stretch herself for her most significant integrative grant. She piggy-backed onto the celebration of her parents’ gift to throw in the spotlight a struggling, nearly invisible integrative medicine operation. This article examines what has been built since the injection from the “god-mother of integrative medicine at Mayo.”
The Integrator Blog News & Reports annually marks the winter solstice with a Top 10 for Policy and Action in Integrative Health and Medicine. In the selection of the Top 10, the accent is on the affirmative – as the jazz-man sings. Thus, the Coming of the Light focuses on individuals and organizations in the field making positive contributions to shift the medical industry toward a system that focuses on creating health. Less positive things sometimes make the list. Who would have guessed that 2020 might have some of these! Integrator articles are now published at johnweeks-integrator.com/posts with content going back to 2006 at the original Integrator site. Prior Top 10 lists, a sort of Cliff Notes of the movement’s history, are linked at the bottom of this column. Below are the Top 10 for 2020. Happy Solstice!