In July 2019 I published a piece entitled Harvard Medical School Grand Rounds Powerfully Interlocks Integrative Medicine and Climate Agendas. It was based on an event led by Peter Wayne, PhD. Now Wayne and two colleagues with the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine have published a related commentary that makes a direct claim in its title: Integrative Medicine Is a Good Prescription for Patients and Planet (in open access throughout January). The authors initiate an intriguing and expansive case for myriad ways that this assertion may be so. For instance: how might an increase in mindfulness diminish shopping addiction, and thus resource consumption? This column is a call for your perspectives of up to 250 words on angles and arguments that support – or oppose – that bold claim. I will select from and publish responses along with photos and brief bio data of contributors in a future Integrator piece. The findings are meant to deepen an evidence-informed dialogue on this topic. Might the integrative health-climate change connection re-frame much more broadly the transformative meaning of this movement?
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 jazzman sings. Thus the Coming of the Light from 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. 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 2019. Happy Solstice!
The decision of the Cleveland Clinic to start a Center for Functional Medicine was big news. That the $9-billion system gave the initiative significant visibility suggested arrival for functional medicine. A few hurdles still existed. Cleveland Clinic’s new partners needed to clarify and create a clinical model that could be measured. That was the caveat. This Center was a bet – a pilot based on a largely untested belief that functional medicine could outperform regular medicine, and at lower cost. Most in the field assumed this would prove a slam dunk. Care from a team of functional medicine physician/nutritionist/health coach and then behavioral specialist became the unit for which outcomes would be measured. Now in a publication in JAMA Network, the first results are in. The headlines were positive – but what do the data really say?
The polarization between reductive biomedical science and a whole person integrative model obscures deeper differences relative to human nature. The top-down, fix-it mode of the former is grounded in a fundamental belief that people (a.k.a. “patients”) either do not want to change or simply can’t. Meantime, the time-consuming, get-in-there-and-partner focus of lifestyle-oriented integrative practitioners assumes that the presenting human being arrives with seeds of change seeking ground for germination and growth. A recent Harris poll on perceptions of self-care among conventional medical doctors and their patients that was funded by the Samueli Foundation and led by its integrative health director Wayne Jonas, MD describes the chasm that has opened between the two parties. The patient is seeking an integrative model for self care amidst the present predication of medical delivery on the skeptical view of human nature.