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.
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?
Environmentalism as a value pulled me toward the job that drew me into integrative medicine 35 years ago. Part of the magnetism was learning that a primary charge in the field with which I was deciding whether to become involved was to aid and abet the healing power of nature. I surmised that such teaching would make patients of such doctors acolytes of the environment if they weren’t already. For this and other reasons, the environmental movement’s still limited embrace of the broader integrative domain as a core ally has continuously surprised me. If it is science one needs to bind these together, a recent Grand Rounds at Harvard Medical School included intriguing arguments. Peter Wayne, PhD, the interim director of that institution’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine locked the two movements together through an array of existing, emerging and suggestive evidence.