If you ask Deepak Chopra about the purpose of the Chopra Library, he will turn quickly speak to the challenges at Wikipedia for topics like integrative medicine and well-being. “Our original intention,” Chopra recalls, “was to counter the agenda at Wikipedia that all this is not scientific.” The mission to provide quality, reliable evidence on integrative and consciousness science was supercharged this past year when word came out that Chopra’s library would become a department at the new Whole Health Institute (WHI). WHI and the library are each backed by philanthropist Alice Walton whose father Sam, the Walmart founder, recalls Chopra, “first came to see me 30 years ago.” I got in touch with Chopra, and the library’s executive director Ryan Castle – a former Wikipedia editor – to learn more about what the field might expect from this other part of the WHI entity.
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.”
Virtually every corner of the medical industry houses an entangling drama between mission and money. There is the service, the need to make a living, and then the way making a living can transform into a production orientation dominated by the impulse to make more money. For integrative health and medicine, the drama is intense, whether in integrative centers owned by large institutions or solo practices in the community. The mission-money challenges get “curiouser and curiouser” for the licensed integrative practice fields that are not fully swept up into the thundering $3.3 trillion river of cash that annually rips through the dominant medical industry. An edginess sets in when, as the sick joke has it, you have just enough recognition to get into debt, but not enough to get out of it yet. So it is always interesting to explore new data on income and practice methods such as were recently published by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges in it’s 2020 Graduate Success and Compensation Study.