In the early nineteen ninety’s the NIH (National Institute of Health) created a division specifically for the study of Unconventional Medical Practices. Its title: Office of Alternative Medicine. Its sole purpose was to look into a wide range of holistic modalities including, but not limited to: massage therapy, herbal medicine and unconventional health treatments.
While NIH was spending over $13 million dollars on this study, Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts was introducing a course on the subject of untraditional medical practices. In Washington DC, Georgetown University was offering classes on similar syllabus content. Two other universities that followed the same course of academic action were University of Louisville and University of Arizona.
Simultaneously, doctors in the United States were becoming more intrigued with mind and body therapies – in particular, those for pain relief. They began to investigate acupuncture and how it induces the nerve cells to produce endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers). For many years the Chinese have been using acupuncture as a surgical anesthetic.
With this greater understanding of biopsychosocial (more of a broader Eastern medical model as opposed to a narrower biomedical Western model) physicians started to consider and even to entertain dialogue about the origins of illness. They begin to slowly recognize that diseases were not just restricted to the invasion of viruses in the body, but also to stress that has the ability to weaken the immune system.
As a result of this knowledge becoming more apparent, clinics for stress reduction began introducing Buddhist meditation, yoga, biofeedback and a broad spectrum of other relaxation programs, taught to thousands of patients who have been referred by physicians who choose to prescribe fewer drugs or other costly medical interventions. Students in these classes also include AIDS patients, muscular dystrophy, hypertension, chronic back pain, anxiety disorder, gastrointestinal distress, coronary artery disease, and cancer.
Insurance coverage for alternative medicine reimbursement varies and depends mainly upon what is allowed in an individual patient’s policy. Certain states have made it a mandatory requirement for insurers to reimburse their insured if they are treated by licensed acupuncturists for the relief of pain. Among the first states to institute this new dictate were: California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon. Alaska took a historical position by insisting that patients be covered for out-of-pocket expenses for therapeutic approaches such as exercise and diet, if these health care interventions were prescribed by licensed naturopaths and practitioners who normally treat disease with nonmedical approaches.
Certain criteria are used by insurers to determine who is entitled and who is not.
Four Key factors for insurability are:
- Strict documentation of measurable treatment results
- Legitimate proof of effective and safe interventions
- A consensus of opinion among members of the medical community
- A careful and extensive review of all information presented
Research projects must also satisfy following stipulations:
- Questions answered by participants in study must not be too broad or narrow based
- Clarity of methods must be used in data collection
- Analytical steps must be followed to reinforce proof of creditability
- Clinical trials considered more substantial if linked to other research studies with proof of compatibility
- Answers questions as they relate to social policy implications
Some Results Produced by Groundbreaking Studies:
- A study published in the Lancet journal reported yoga and meditation used as therapy in conjunction with a low-fat diet can reverse coronary heart disease – actually reducing the amount of plaque in arteries.
- In the same journal a study pointing out the effects of psychosocial treatment for women with breast cancer citing clinical trial participants who got medical treatments in conjunction with attendance in support groups and self-hypnosis had better results helping to prove that emotions and behaviors can influence health
Consequently, these examples and many others have offered valid scientific evidence that has given significant justification for the substitution of alternative medicine in some instances for that of more widely understood traditional forms of medical treatment. Even though; there still remains some very stiff opposition from the medical establishment, many believers in holistic applications feel that it is only a matter of time before all bias and prejudices will dissipate due to the continual presentation of evidence coming from a number of ongoing clinically based trials.
Definition of Naturopathic Medicine
History of Naturopathic Medicine –
The Practice of Qualitative Research – Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, Patricia Leavy
Eastern Medicine and Healing Resources