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Last Updated: 11/9/12

Meetings

CAM Medical Associations Collaborate in Joint Conference

A crowd of over 800 physicians, nurses, homeopaths, naturopaths, nutritionists, herbalists, and advocates mingled as a result of Dr. Hal Blatman, president of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), and Dr. Lise Alschuler, president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), who brought the two medical associations together for their first joint conference. “Embody Nature, Redefine Health” was the theme of this inaugural event, which took place in August 13-16, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona, and served in the place of both groups’ annual conventions.

A common philosophy exists between the two associations, which contributed to the success of the meeting. The missions of both AHMA and AANP support an integrative and holistic approach to medicine. The conference was “an opportunity for like-minded healthcare professionals to interact, learn from one another and build our collective momentum for transforming health care,” said Dr. Alschuler.

Sessions and workshops offered at the conference were divided into research, clinical practice, oncology, and poster presentations. Over the course of four days, presentations on oncology covered topics such as: the controversy of soybeans; non-melanoma skin cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment; a systematic review and meta-analysis of melatonin combined with chemotherapy; and intravenous and oral therapies in the treatment of cancer.

A unique feature of AANP that is different from other CAM professional societies is a network of oncology providers called the OncANP, whose development in 2004 stemmed from growing interest in the practice of integrative and non-conventional cancer care. OncANP seeks to prolong survival and enhance the quality of life for cancer patients through clinical research, standardized instruction on the subject of oncology at naturopathic medical schools, continuing education for naturopathic physicians, and accessible knowledge and resources about naturopathic treatment for cancer. A panel of OncANP members was available during a forum to answer questions about the needs and concerns of naturopathic oncologists. Topics included promoting integration between naturopaths and oncologists, practice limitations and opportunities, and developing new integrative programs. Another session at the conference dealt with clinical issues such as detoxification while undergoing chemotherapy, drug/herb interactions, and ethical/legal concerns when patients choose naturopathy versus conventional therapy.

“Throughout the conference sessions and while talking with other conference attendees, I experienced a fruitful sharing of both clinical and research approaches,” said CDR Colleen Lee, OCCAM’s Practice Assessment Program coordinator.

NIH Focuses on Meditation Research

While meditation — focused breathing or the repetition of words or phrases to quiet the mindhas been used for thousands of years, NIH has only, in recent years, given concentrated attention to the topic. On July 8-9, 2008, NCCIH and counterparts at NIH including NCI, the National Institute on Aging, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences (OBSSR), along with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, convened a group of experts, to discuss the future direction of meditation research at the workshop “Meditation for Health Purposes.”

This was the second time NIH has held a meeting on the topic of meditation. In May of 2004, OBSSR hosted the “Symposium on Mindfulness Meditation,” which provided an opportunity for NIH’s scientific community to gain a basic understanding of one type of meditation, mindfulness meditation.

Four years later, the “Meditation for Health Purposes” workshop was convened as a result of the Agency for Health Research and Quality report Meditation Practices for Health: State of Research. The report, which wasrequested and funded by NCCIH, stated that “the therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature” because of the poor quality of the research methods used. The goals of the workshop were, over the course of two days, to address these findings, present meditation research on various health conditions, including cancer, and collectively propose ways to improve meditation for health research.

“Many patients are interested in taking more responsibility for their own health and in developing healthier lifestyles. Mind-body interventions, such as meditation, can be one of the components of individual health promotion, and many health care practitioners are supportive of the use of these approaches. What we need is a better understanding of how and when to use them and also how they work,” commented OCCAM Director Dr. Jeffrey D. White.

The following are examples of NCI-sponsored studies that include a meditative component:

As a result of the “Meditation for Health Purposes” workshop, recommendations were made for research that explores possible mechanisms of action, efficacy for both physical and mental health outcomes, development of appropriate and sophisticated research methodologies, and collaboration amongst various scientific disciplines. A meeting summary is available at http://nccam.nih.gov/news/2008/070808.htm.

Bioactive Food and Chemoprevention Symposium Supported by NCI

The first-ever, international symposium on “Bioactive Food Components, Alternative Medicine, and Cancer Chemoprevention,” held in Greece in October 2007, was supported, in part, by an R13 conference grant* from OCCAM and NCCIH. The 2-day meeting drew almost 150 attendees and included presentations and discussions on recent advances in the field including studies on prostate cancer chemoprevention with genistein and resveratrol, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents present in dietary and medicinal plants, and recent advances in mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention by grape seed extract.

John Milner, Ph.D., chief of NCI’s Nutritional Sciences Research Group, delivered a presentation on “Frontiers in Cancer Prevention by Bioactive Food Components.” He also co-chaired the symposium’s opening session with conference organizer Shivendra Singh, Ph.D., professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-leader of the cancer biochemoprevention program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The grant from OCCAM and NCCIH helped partially cover travel costs of the organizers, invited speakers, and young investigators, as well as pay for publicity for the meeting. Papers from the conference will be published in Nutrition and Cancer, Dr. Singh said.

Grant number: 1R13CA132241-01

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