Survey finds integrative medicine most useful for pain

February 22, 2012|By Meredith Cohn

A new survey of integrative medicine centers shows that the most commonly treated ailments are chronic pain, gastrointestinal conditions, depression and anxiety, cancer and chronic stress.

The survey was conducted at 29 centers, including the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, by the Bravewell Collaborative, a nonprofit foundation that advocates for and researches integrative medicine. This kind of medicine purports to treat the whole patient – physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. -- through use of alternative and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage.

There is not medical evidence that all such therapies are effective, but this study sought to identify what maladies were most often treated in the centers and how often they were successful.

The survey found 75 percent of centers had success treating patients with chronic pain and more than half had positive results in treating gastrointestinal conditions, depression and anxiety, cancer and chronic stress.

“With chronic health issues costing the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion a year, it’s essential to find the most effective ways to treat and prevent the most prevalent conditions,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, co-author of the report and professor of clinical medicine at the University of California San Francisco, in a statement. “This report demonstrates how an integrative approach is being used to improve patient outcomes.”

Other clinics were affiliated in hospitals, medical schools or health systems, including Cleveland Clinic, Duke, Mayo Clinic and Stanford. They provide a range of services for adults, seniors, women and children such as nutrition services, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage and pharmaceuticals.

To see the whole report, go to

To learn more about integrative medicine, the University of Maryland is hosting an integrative medicine and wellness conference on April 14 with Dr. Andrew Weil, an author and nationally known advocate for such therapy. The conference at the Baltimore Hilton, will include 25 sessions on foods, holistic pain relief, stress management and other topics.

To register or get more information, go to

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