The New Language of Medicine: Part I
Cancer and Treatment
The Cheering Section
Fortunately, Duhl had the support of her husband, who was no stranger to integrative medicine. As a professor in the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health, Dr. Len Duhl had always encouraged his medical students to open their minds to the world of unconventional health practices and to integrate them into a more complete approach to healing.
"We depended upon the best and most advanced chemotherapy protocols available," he said. "We also found that while conventional medicine was important and excellent, it ignored certain issues that were important.
"The alternative practitioners supplemented Lisa's treatment, and as a team they were formidable."
This formidable combination of conventional and alternative medicine is fast gaining mainstream acceptance. In fact, insurance companies and HMOs now provide coverage for acupuncture, massage and other treatments that were considered "unconventional" when Lisa Duhl was diagnosed with breast cancer.
As early as 1993, researchers at Harvard Medical School reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that one-third of all Americans used some form of unconventional medicine, such as mind/body therapies, chiropractic, massage, spiritual healing, nutritional and herbal medicine, homeopathy or acupuncture.
Most medical universities and hospitals are now incorporating many of these practices. At the same time, patients are demanding them. And, under the direction of integrative-medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil, the first formal training program in integrative medicine for physicians is in full swing at the University of Arizona. With this atmosphere, medical students across the country are appealing for more education in the alternative arena.
By Any Other Name...
The pleas of patients and medical students are not without basis. Since the 1980s, researchers have been mounting scientific evidence that integrative medicine often works better than conventional treatment alone.
Dr. Dean Ornish's program at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, CA, is famous for reversing heart disease with a combination of diet, moderate exercise, stress management, meditation, group support, yoga, and conventional diagnostic procedures and drugs, as needed.
At the Stanford University Medical School, Dr. David Spiegel and his team of researchers have found that women with advanced breast cancer doubled their survival time by participating in group therapy while undergoing conventional treatments.
People living with AIDS are also benefiting from integrative medicine. Dr. Jon Kaiser at the Davies Medical Center in San Francisco, California, starts his patients on a program of diet, nutritional supplementation, herbs, acupuncture, exercise and mind/body medicine. He then incorporates drug therapies only if the rest of the program proves not to be sufficient. Almost 90 percent of Kaiser's patients improved or have been able to keep the disease at bay.