The Fifth Complementary and Alternative Medicine Conference is to be held in St. Louis on June 4, 5, and 6, 2004. This conference provides a very rare opportunity for everyone – medical care professionals and the public alike – to discover new ways of healing. It is unique in that medical doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and the public are all interacting with each for the wellness and healing of the whole person. Before describing some of the benefits of what you will receive at the Conference, I’d like to provide some background on why this Conference is so necessary today.
Conventional medical care, primarily based on drug therapy and surgery, has failed to find cost effective and satisfactory treatments for the leading causes of death such as heart disease and cancer as well as a multitude of other illnesses. Currently, statistics indicate that one out of two men and one out of three women will develop cancer during their life. Concurrently, there has been an increase in the incidence of chronic degenerative conditions such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, dementia, neuromuscular disease, asthma, and the new phenomena of ADD/ADHD, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, low sex libido, infertility, and hormonal problems.
Medical treatments for disease often focus on treating the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes of the problems. In fact, conventional treatments have become the third leading cause of death, with 225,000 deaths, after heart related disease and cancer according to an article in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), July, 26, 2000, 284, 483-485). This number includes “106,000 deaths per year from non-error, adverse effects of medications,” i.e. prescription drugs. Other causes include “nosocomial infections” (those that originate in the hospital), “other errors”, and “medical errors”, all of which occur in hospitals, and “unnecessary surgery.”
The public has been looking for safer alternative medical care. More than 630 million visits are made annually to alternative medicine practitioners, exceeding the total visits to all U.S. primary care physicians. Americans annually spend more than $60 billion on alternative medical care and the majority of that is paid out of pocket (JAMA, Nov. 11, 1998, 280, 1569-1575). Is the public better off with alternative medicine or is this hype?
The proof is in the numbers above. If conventional medicine was successful in treating illness and chronic conditions, the use of alternative medicine probably wouldn’t be increasing so rapidly. Often, alternative medicine is sought out because people are still suffering from the syndrome called, “My doctor said everything is fine, then why do I feel so bad?” These individuals are often abandoned as incurable when the primary measurement of success, the treating and relieving of symptoms, is unsuccessful. Longer lasting success only comes from treating causes of illness, not just the symptoms.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine and alternative medicine operate in mutually exclusive ideologies. As a result, patients often get lost in competing care from the cross fire of two hostile medical camps. The end result is the creation of much hype, confusion and distrust. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible for the two approaches to health to be compatible.
We are in dire need of bridging the gap between conventional and alternative medical knowledge. We recognize that integration of these two medical fields offers far more powerful tools for the successful treatment of those suffering from chronic illness. Weaving western science and eastern philosophies of life force and energy into one integrated system can create a quantum jump in the understanding of health and chronic illness. It can create a major shift in the paradigm of medicine.
Conventional medicine and alternative medical care need to operate in a mutually inclusive environment under the guidance of physicians who understand the value of integrating the ideas of both schools of medicine. Major medical schools are promoting alternative medical conferences. They are gradually integrating some of the “alternative” modalities, such as acupuncture, into the main stream of medical care.
The demand for alternative medicine and its educational demand will continue to increase not only from the public but also from physicians. The demand from physicians is occurring in large part because they need to be educated as to what the public is asking about. In addition, many physicians, although admittedly a small but growing minority at this time, are also willingly interested in discovering alternative means of healing.
This conference is unique. It is designed to cover a broad spectrum of holistic approaches to body/mind/spirit in ways in which medical, dental, chiropractic and naturopathic care can be integrated into healing the whole person. It speaks to the professional practitioner and the patient. Integrative medicine evaluates the whole person and the causes of illness, not just one’s primary symptoms. Patient and doctor work as a team to uncover the necessary clues for proper therapy with the long term goal of health rather than mere elimination of symptoms or disease.
The purpose of the conference is to promote a wide variety of concepts of alternative medicine which can be integrated into the practice of modern medicine. It is expected there will be a minority of physicians who will strongly oppose change to the way in which they practice without having a true understanding of the basic science behind alternative medicine.
The best means to learn new ideas is by attending the conference with an open mind whether you are a professional, patient, public or totally new to Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This conference will equip you with the knowledge to take charge of your health. Doctors can better prepare to answer patients’ new demanding questions and deal with medical problems with a new insight into potentially powerful and effective alternative solutions.