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.
What reform push to turn the medical industry toward health has been shouted from the white-papered roof tops as long as the call to dramatically increase the role of nutrition in professional education and practice? Food as medicine is both cornerstone and connective stratum across the naturopathic, functional, integrative, lifestyle, and most traditional medicine models for reform. The bugle was sounded again recently. With a reminder that poor nutrition is a leading factor in chronic disease and an assertion that “personalized nutrition has the power to reverse this epidemic,” five nutrition-related organizations announced they have banded together to form the American Nutrition Association (ANA). Their bodacious goal: nothing less than to help “unleash nutrition’s potential to reverse the crisis.” Who are these folks and what might they do to finally give nutrition the respect it deserves?
The past 20 years witnessed the expansion of a new type of institution in academic health care – and specifically in integrative health and medicine: multidisciplinary universities with professional degrees in multiple natural health fields. Variously denominated as universities of “natural health sciences” or “health sciences” or “integrative health” or merely as “university,” these 7 institutions were each founded as single purpose colleges to educate chiropractors, naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists. They expanded to include other disciplines, degrees and certifications. Many have played important roles in the integrative health movement. All sit at the intersection of two fields in turmoil: health care and higher education. I interviewed the presidents of each to access their vantage points. This overview is a first in a two-part series.
The US medical industry has a motivation problem when it comes to the central role of food in health. Kale does not emit a flock of attractive sales people to detail doctor offices. Organics lack the financial clout to fund JAMA. Brown rice gets failure grades on inviting doctors to conferences in tropical zones. Fruits and vegetables seem to have missed out entirely on the whole marketing side of competing with the pharma-device predilections of the $3.3-trillion medical industry.