AlterMed brings acupuncture into the modern scientific medical world of integrative medicine

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AlterMed brings acupuncture into the modern scientific medical world of integrative medicine

This weekend, as an acupuncturist I was honored to participate in the AlterMed Colorado Integrative Medicine Conference. I walked away from the conference with many ah-ha’s, some of which I am excited to share with all of you because I wish to convey to you how powerful your choice to care for yourself with Chinese Medicine has been.

And it’s not just me who thinks this…a lot of big-wigs in the western world are starting to believe it also, and this was more than confirmed this weekend. While acupuncture is an ancient medicine, in our culture it has become cutting edge, and each one of you who has had the courage to choose natural medicine is a part of what continues to sharpen that edge and make it a truly effective blade that is cutting through the problems in modern medicine.

The majority of the conference participants were western physicians and psychotherapists, and the keynote speakers were 2 prominent names in what I will call the “New Medicine”: Dr. Katz , Associate Professor of Public Health Yale University, Founding Director Yale University Prevention Research Center, Director & Founder Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital; and Richard Davidson, PhD , Harvard Trained Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry and Director for the Lab for Effective Neuroscience. 

I call the kind of western medicine that they practice the “New Medicine”, because while it is sometimes a turning away from the often damaging and short-sighted premises and effects of modern medicine, it combines an embracing of the age-old wisdom of traditional medicines with modern scientific evidence which proves the efficacy of these modalities.

My reactions:

As I sat listening to the lectures throughout the conference, a few reactions fought for dominance inside of me. On the one hand, I was deeply moved and appreciative of the fact that western medicine is finally supporting and understanding the validity of what natural medicine providers have been working with for years. I began to think of these Dr’s as my new heroes—with their prominence in the prestigious western medical landscape, their words will travel much further and deeper than anyone’s outside that world—I was therefore very grateful to have them on my team!

On the other hand, I found myself battling an internal frustration over the fact that the common sense of natural and preventative medicine requires numerous letters behind one’s name to be “valid”, and that what has worked for thousands of years on millions of patients is only now beginning to be seen as legitimate because these lettered names are deciding to pay attention.  The arrogance of western medicine is an ongoing frustration for all of us who successfully help our patients get over medical issues, which the same western doctors who say our medicine is not effective, have not been able to treat.

On the THIRD hand (yes…I somehow grew many hands this weekend…) I was humbled by how blessed I feel to have stumbled across this medicine almost half my life ago, and swelling with pride for myself and each one of you who had the wisdom to work with this medicine. These feelings came up in me continuously as the Dr’s gave examples in their lectures of complicated cases they were working on, and the “astounding”results they were beginning to see as they started working with acupuncturists, homeopaths, and other natural medicine providers.

Dr. Katz was clear to point out that at this point, until more studies are done, these stories of success are just anecdotes–historically not “evidence” enough to stand up to the rigors of scientific review.  And yet…and yet…the tidal wave of anecdotal evidence has become enormous enough that the western world has  been forced to start paying attention. 15 years ago, an Integrative Medicine conference such as this would have drawn mostly hippies, new age healers, and maybe the physician of Jerry Garcia (famous for being the “nutty professor” type). But today, even if the benefits are still not being fully realized, the fact that these prominent names in Western medicine are forming entire medical centers around the use of modalities such as acupuncture, is inspiring and timely indeed.

So be proud that you are ahead of the curve…you jumped onto the wave while it was still just a fledgling current. And I trust that you will ride the wave gleefully to the end, living a full, and vibrant, and health-filled life!

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