Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Be Smart About Integrative Medicine

    Integrative therapies can open up new doors for treating ailments, but make sure you know what you are truly getting.
    By
    WebMD Feature

    Integrative medicine and its cousin, alternative therapies, offer a wealth of new and often unfamiliar treatment choices. But before you sign up, you should know where to look, who to contact, and what kind of information you can trust.

    "You want to avoid literally the thousands of bogus claims out there," says Barrie Cassileth, PhD, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

    Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

    Is It Better to Meditate in Silence?

    By Jenn Sturiale The Rumor: You can only really meditate in complete silence As if it isn’t difficult enough to find the time to meditate, some styles of meditation prescribe complete silence as their way of getting into the zone. Confusingly, other schools advocate the use of mantras or chants to go deeper. Then there's guided meditations. Is one method really better than the others? The Verdict: There's value in both silent and vocal meditation techniques, so experiment and choose the style...

    Read the Is It Better to Meditate in Silence? article > >

    For instance, does cholesterol spinach, a plant touted as a "miracle cure" in Hawaii, really lower cholesterol? Can supplying high levels of oxygen to the body kill cancer cells? Can taking bee pollen boost athletic performance?

    Scientists haven't found proof that any of the above treatments work. So when it comes to choosing a good integrative medicine center, or alternative or complementary therapies, it really pays to do your homework.

    Finding a Reputable Integrative Medicine Center

    Integrative medicine is gaining acceptance among more doctors and more hospitals around the country, but the movement is still just starting to build momentum.

    Susan Folkman, PhD, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says if you're interested in finding a reputable integrative medicine center near you, visit the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, which is a group of 42 academic health centers -- including the Osher Center and others at Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, and the University of Pennsylvania.

    Folkman, who is the chairwoman of the consortium, says you can find an academic center in your region and call for recommendations.

    You can also get a listing of integrative medicine clinics through the Bravewell Clinical Network, a philanthropic organization dedicated to furthering the philosophy and implementation of integrative medicine.

    Herbs, Vitamins, and Botanicals

    It also pays to know how to properly evaluate some of the therapies that you may encounter.

    Some complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) therapies have been shown in clinical trials to be useful; for example, acupuncture to relieve nausea after chemotherapy. But how can the bewildered consumer tell the possibly beneficial therapies from the useless or downright dangerous? And how does one find a trustworthy practitioner instead of a quack?

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz