Due January 31: Call for Your Perspectives for an Open Forum on Integrative Health and Climate Change

Due January 31: Call for Your Perspectives for an Open Forum on Integrative Health and Climate Change

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?

Please submit your contributions by January 31, 2020.

Setting the Stage

The commentary from Wayne, the interim director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Aterah Z. Nusrat, MSc, DIC and Iman Majd, MD, MS, EAMP/LAc – their Collaborative colleague who heads the Osher Center at the University of Washington – begins to provide a broad frame for the exploration, and the potential impacts. The key points for which they marshaled evidence include:

  • Focus on prevention versus the industry’s focus on disease
  • Impact of increased movement via bicycles
  • Possible role of mindfulness in reducing compulsive and addictive behaviors with high carbon footprint
  • Evidence that mindfulness is associated with “pro-social and pro-environmental behavior”
  • The linking of health with experience of nature (forest bathing for instance)

In their conclusion, the trio open up a wide door for potential influences of integrative medicine and health in limiting negative effects of climate change:

Perhaps as a collateral benefit, the interventions prescribed by integrative medicine providers, including prevention and mindful self-care, may have ‘‘side effects’’ or ‘‘environmental co-benefits’’ that positively counter climate change.

Call for Your Ideas (by January 20)

What are your ideas to add to this white board? In what ways might the thorough adoption of an integrative health model toward health creation limit the warming of the globe and positively impact climate? If your idea is supported by evidence, better yet. Please provide a link or two if so. Wild and reasonable ideas welcome. As are wild and reasonable perspectives from naysayers or skeptics. Keep your contributions to anything from a sentence or two to 250 words. If you know of good papers or blogs on this topic, please share the links.

An example – my own pet perspective! – mindfulness-driven diminution of greenhouse gases from fewer services

This drills down into the “how” for reducing the medical industry’s carbon footprint. In my column noted at the top of this article, I referenced a mindfulness study from 2015 that was a retrospective analysis of roughly 4500 individuals who completed a mindfulness integrative group intervention. In total, the group’s overall consumption of conventional medical services was 43% less than matched pairs. Given that the gross carbon foot print of the medical industry in the United States would rank it 13th among nations in greenhouse gas emissions, what might the effect on these poisons be if the public health campaign for which the authors call — making mindfulness training as ubiquitous as driver’s education or vaccinations — were championed by politicians and rolled out as public policy nationwide?

Knitting together the transformational movements for integrative health and to address climate change

Many professionals in integrative health and medicine fields believe that what they do is inherently more positive for Mother Earth than regular medicine. Yet there are few signs that the integrative health and medicine movement as a transformational movement is embraced as a critical ally by either climate change activists or the broader environmental movement. Please share your ideas that may more closely knit these movements together.

Submit by January 31, 2020 to johnweeks@theintegratorblog.com. If you have questions about a submission idea, please write me.

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