[Paleopsych] Chronicle Colloquy: Acupuncture Meets Aspirin
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Mon Nov 21 18:42:28 UTC 2005
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
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Join us here on Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S. Eastern time.
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
» Take 2 Herbal Remedies and Call Me in the Morning (11/18/2005)
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
By KATHERINE S. MANGAN
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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