[Paleopsych] Chronicle Colloquy: Acupuncture Meets Aspirin

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Acupuncture Meets Aspirin

[Article appended. I'll be asking to what extent acupuncture is a progressive 
field. An enthusiastic accupunturist came to give a noon talk where I work and, 
like far too many speakers, spent nearly all his time on his message. I had to 
leave early but did manage to interrupt to ask him whether some particular 
technique he was describing was a new practice. He said it wasn't. I am 
extremely suspicious of any field that does not progress. The whole study of 
paranormal phenomenon is still where it was 150 years ago, namely documenting 
that there are phenomena we do not understand. The pile of documentation gets 
bigger, if new reports come in faster than old reports get explained away, but 
there are no laws to be had, not even trends and correlations.]

    Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S. Eastern time
    More than half the nation's medical schools require some study of
    non-Western healing methods, like acupuncture, herbs, and meditation,
    and the number is growing. Do future doctors need to know about
    alternative and complementary medicine? Or is incorporating those
    methods into medical-school curricula just an attempt to pander to
    popular tastes?

    >> Click here to [55]ask a question.
   55. http://chronicle.com/colloquy/2005/11/altmed/question.php3

    The discussion has not started yet.
    Join us here on Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S. Eastern time.

The Topic

    Since the early 1990s, acupuncture, herbs, massage, and meditation
    have found their way into traditional medical schools, and now more
    than half the nation's accredited schools require at least some study
    of alternative or complementary medicine.
    Proponents say future doctors need to know about treatments that are
    increasingly entering the mainstream. They should know, for example,
    if an herbal remedy a patient is using might interfere with his
    chemotherapy. But many medical-school professors and students go
    further: They see no reason why they shouldn't refer a patient to an
    acupuncturist or chiropractor if other methods have failed.
    Is it irresponsible to teach remedies that many doctors consider flaky
    or even dangerous? If medical students should not be trained in those
    methods, should they at least be taught to evaluate them, given that
    more than one-third of Americans now turn to alternative remedies? Or
    is incorporating those methods into the curriculum merely pandering to
    popular tastes?

      » [57]Take 2 Herbal Remedies and Call Me in the Morning (11/18/2005)

The Guest

    Michael J. Baime is a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the
    University of Pennsylvania and the founder and director of the Penn
    Program for Stress Management. He has practiced meditation since 1969
    and directs nontraditional courses, including "Spirituality and
    Medicine" and "Mind/Body Medicine." His current research projects
    include investigations into the use of meditation as a treatment for
    multiple sclerosis and obesity. He will respond to questions and
    comments about these issues on Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S.
    Eastern time. Readers are welcome to post questions and comments now.
    A transcript will be available at this address following the

Acupuncture, Herbs, and a Chinese Gong
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.11.18

    Laurel, Md.

    The Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts is a two-hour drive from
    the hustle and bustle of the University of Pennsylvania's medical
    school and hospitals, but with its Zen-like atmosphere and labs
    stocked with Chinese herbs, it feels worlds apart.

    The school is housed in a two-story, red-brick building in an office
    park in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. From the outside, it could
    be any generic office. But inside, soothing music plays in the lobby
    over the sound of a gurgling fountain. Curved walls draw a visitor in
    along a carpet inlaid with a navy stripe that snakes through the
    building like a river.

    The walls, painted in colors like eggplant, pumpkin, and cream, are
    decorated with student projects bursting with stones and twigs that
    depict the cycles of nature. Classrooms are drenched in sunlight from
    wall-to-wall windows that look out on herb gardens and a stone
    labyrinth that students built for patients to wander through.

    At noon, the school's greeter strikes a Chinese gong over the
    intercom. "It reminds us how blessed we are to be alive," says Robert
    M. Duggan, an acupuncturist who founded the institute in 1974 as the
    College of Chinese Acupuncture. He has served as its president since

    Students and faculty members greet each other with Eastern-style bows
    and Western-style hugs. The school's name, combining the Chinese word
    for great (Tai) and the Greek word for wisdom (Sophia) reflects the
    meeting of Eastern and Western healing practices.

    The staff also comes from a mix of both traditional and nontraditional
    higher-education backgrounds. Mary Ellen Petrisko, vice president for
    academic affairs, worked as a top executive with the Maryland Higher
    Education Commission and the University of Maryland's University
    College before moving to Tai Sophia three years ago.

    "When you walk in, there's a kind of serenity and a nice, pleasant
    energy that doesn't make you feel frenetic or stressed," says Ms.
    Petrisko, who was hired to provide structure and help ensure
    accreditation for what had before been "basically a mom-and-pop
    operation." Since then, the school has expanded its scope and begun
    working on joint education and research projects with the University
    of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

    Tai Sophia enrolls 125 students -- up from 40 a decade ago. Seventy
    are studying acupuncture, and the rest are evenly divided between
    botanical healing and applied healing arts. Herbs, Mr. Duggan says,
    are a $10-billion industry in the United States that needs people who
    understand how they interact with one another, and with other

    Journals on botanical healing, acupuncture, and other remedies line
    the bookshelves of the school's library, along with magazines like
    Arthritis Today and Alternative Medicine.

    The library's circulation coordinator, wearing a purple and green
    tie-dyed shirt and jeans, points out human models marked with meridian
    points where acupuncturists will insert needles. He leads Mr. Duggan
    and a visitor along bookshelves of research materials that support
    alternative forms of medicine.

    Says Mr. Duggan: "People say it's unproven, but the amount of data is

    It will take more than data and connections to an Ivy League medical
    school to win over some skeptics, but after more than 30 years as an
    acupuncturist and president of the school, Mr. Duggan has a clear
    sense of purpose.

    As he escorts a visitor back to the lobby, he points out the window at
    four forked branches that are wrapped in colorful yarn and staked in
    the ground, as part of an American Indian tradition, marking the
    north, south, east, and west poles of the campus. Regardless of how
    the outside world views it, this school knows which way it's heading.

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