At the time of the murder of George Floyd, members of his immediate family expressed amazement at the influence of his life through the manner of his death. They would not likely have guessed then that the social combustion over systemic racism and related colonial suppression would a month later prompt a community-wide consensus to remove a term that has been central to defining a core field in the integrative health and medicine space. An intense, open, and well-managed exchange has commenced among leaders of the profession of acupuncture and medicine from Eastern Asia to remove from their label a term of a racist and colonial origin: “Oriental.” Executives of the field’s accredited colleges are the core participants in the exchange, and the input has grown from there. Significant agreement exists to remove the term. Replacement may prove more problematic.
The dominant origin story of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) – known for their certified providers of the 5-point ear acupuncture protocol – begins with the association’s formation in 1985. It is a story featuring a remarkable white male medical doctor who was a breakthrough clinician in recognizing the value of group delivered services. Yet the development of the acupuncture protocol itself has an earlier, also powerful story. These origins are traced to a community health uprising in the South Bronx of New York in 1970. The action was led by the Black Panthers and the Nuyorican activist group, the Young Lords. Now the murder of George Floyd and a new documentary earlier activism, Dope is Death, have dovetailed to produce a rich re-examination among NADA leaders. One Puerto Rican practitioner trained by a one of the earliest leaders suggests that what is under way is a call to “mend our history.”
In recent weeks, two influential integrative health organizations each chose to feature presentations on the expansive, multidisciplinary, and remarkably patient-choice integrative pain pilot associated with the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMC). The presentations for the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health and the Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (AACIPM) featured the project’s remarkable, multi-stakeholder partners: the state’s dominant payer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Vermont Department of Health, and the academic medical center. Included in the latter was the project’s research leader, longtime integrative health policy activist and prior NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health adviser Janet Kahn, PhD, LMT. The parties shared early outcomes from the unique bundled payment model. Many consider the strategy a potential pilot for the nation. What is being discovered? Can it be implemented elsewhere?
What kind of response would come in from the call for perspectives (up to 250 words): “How might rapid uptake of the integrative model influence climate change?” My call was stimulated by a commentary from Harvard’s Peter Wayne, PhD and others in the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine in which they boldly assert that Integrative Medicine Is a Good Prescription for Patients and Planet. I opined that I don’t believe that the environmental movement necessarily views the movement for integrative medicine as a core ally yet that the field would serve itself to up its environmental profile. The call brought a fine array of responses from a diverse, interprofessional group: American Public health Association integrative health leader Elizabeth Sommers, PhD, MPH, LAc, True Health Initiative founder and long-time Yale-based preventive-integrative-lifestyle medicine leader David Katz, MD, MPH, IM4US president Udaya Thomas, MSN, MPH, ARNP, commons activist and Institute for a Sustainable Future founder Jamie Harvie, Bastyr University faculty and past president of the Dieticians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Mary Purdy, MS, RDN, author author and Vermont Chinese medicine practitioner Brendan Kelly, LAc, and Alaska clinician Emily Kane, ND, LAc.