Monday, April 20, 2009
Yours truly was an attendee at the University of Miami Integrative Medicine Symposium & Expo on the first of 2 days of this event for April 2009. This was hosted at the UM Medical Wellness Center Clinical Research Building in cooperation with the UM Medical School's Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This Symposium/Expo featured a broad spectrum of educational presentations, demonstrations, and product exhibitors. Sponsors included Medi-Herb, The BioMat Company, Whole Foods Market, Standard Process, & others.
The educational presentations were provided with continuing education credit for health care practitioners and were also made available as part of the physician training resources available for UM medical students, to help them see health care ideas and approaches that are outside the confines of conventional allopathic oriented medical school training.
Stated objectives for participants were as follows:
Compile a set of complementary therapies or techniques relevant to practicing integrative medicine.
Observe demonstrations of complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies including acupuncture, laser, Tai Chi, and mind-body acupressure.
Integrate some of the knowledge presented directly into their clinical practice.
Appraise the vastness of integrative and complementary medicine and collect information on approaches relevant to their practice or research.
Explain what integrative medicine means and where it fits into the future of medicine.
Assess how clinical nutrition may be significant to practicing medicine.
Assemble a lost of the types of CAM and integrative medicine health professionals relevant to organizing an integrative medicine practice.
Lectures I attended included one on genomics of mind-body medicine (focusing on genetics & hypnosis), spirituality and health (spiritual beliefs and practices influence on those with HIV and other illnesses; The Oneness Blessing), Music Therapy, The Plasma Energy Field effects on the human body (quantum energy fields, biophotons, subtle energy interference patterns, etc.), and Five Superfoods that can save your life (garlic, virgin coconut oil, cruciferous vegetables, turmeric, and green tea extract). I also joined in the demonstration by a Reiki Master who was playing Tibetan/Himalayan singing bowls and didgeridoo to help people release energy blocks.
The lectures were all nice introductions to the topics, though some topics were too broad to fit into an hour lecture and the presenters didn't have a lot of time to address questions or listen to ideas or perspectives from their audience. I'll share here some of my comments on the presentations and demonstrations, which are just a sample of what was going on at this symposium. It was excellent to see The University of Miami making this available to students, professionals, and the public. Dr. Konefal, a practitioner and teacher of energy psychology methods, was instrumental in organizing this symposium and deserves much credit in putting it together. I just have to advise her to be careful when speaking to sloppy, less-than-fair journalists like the Miami Herald's reporter assigned to this story, as the reporter printed some selected weak quotes from her that were framed to suppress the scientific recognition and validation of alternative medicine and natural healing modalities. He also made significant factual errors in his article such as calling the Tibetan bowls "Tibetan tuning forks" and calling neuroloinguistic programming "neurolinguistic psychology." It's unfortunate that the Miami Herald's reporter was less interested in getting the article facts accurate than in finding a way to spin his story to make it appear that holistic medicine has limited empirical validation. He never even mentioned any nutritional or herbal treatment-describing lectures, which are topics very heavily backed by empirical research. Luckily, intelligent readers like yourselves can explore information on the Internet from multiple viewpoints and come to your own conclusions.
At the bowls and didgeridoo demo I felt the style of playing the metal bowls that was demonstrated wasn't well-suited to an introduction, as the practitioner only rang the bowls, in a sometimes overly sharp manner, rather than rimming/singing the bowls. That may be ideal for breaking loose stuck energy but it's not ideal for relaxation and meditation. I felt that the Plasma Energy Field lecturer was unwisely evading discussion of metaphysical ideas in relation to the discussion of quantum energy fields - any deep discussion of healing will lead one into the realm of spirituality, consciousness, and metaphysics. I also found the ideas about genetic susceptibility to hypnosis to be limited and based on inherently flawed research, with the presenter drawing some flawed conclusions. In the talk on spirituality and HIV I found it interesting that those with positive spiritual beliefs tended to be more compliant with antiretroviral drugs... maybe if they had developed even more enlightened and empowering spiritual beliefs they would have come to a realization that they can heal themselves and move beyond needing drug treatment? Those people treated for HIV who had a healthy, positive faith, tended to do well while on the medicines while those who felt abandoned or punished by God were likely to have poor responses to the medicine and less compliance. Well, if you're not doing well on a drug what level of incentive is there to comply? The study never looked at people from either type of spiritual views who wanted to avoid conventional HIV drugs and use either natural therapies or no therapies instead. This research was commendable, while it primarily just reinforces what people in the metaphysical and mind-body healing fields would already be aware of about how thoughts/beliefs affect our health.
Aside from the flaws that I considered present in the presentations and research, and perhaps a few other weaknesses, these were informative lectures and probably much more enlightening than a lot of what is provided as medical school education. I look forward to seeing more of these symposiums and demonstrations at the University of Miami in the future.
Jed Shlackman, LMHC, C.Ht. is a licensed mental health counselor, hypnotherapist, and energy healer practicing in Miami, Florida. Jed has a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Miami.
Learn more about Jed at www.phinsights.com