In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 14, 2014

Giving Patients Plenty of ‘Alternatives’

By In the Loop

Accupuncture760The other day, as we were scouring the Interwebs, we came across a story in The Atlantic that caught our eye titled, "There is no alternative medicine." It turns out the headline was a bit deceiving, as the piece primarily highlights the trials and tribulations of Gervasio Lamas, M.D., and his quest to convince the medical world to consider the alternative, and "controversial," use of chelation over more traditional forms of treatment for patients with heart disease.

The headline did, however, get us wondering about Mayo's view of the field formerly known as alternative medicine. And for that, we turned to our resident expert (formerly known as alternative medicine guru), Brent Bauer, M.D., director of Mayo's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program.

"The old battle of alternative vs. conventional medicine is really old news," Dr. Bauer tells us. "Mayo has become a recognized leader in integrative medicine and wellness promotion, as that's emerging as an equally strong value and brand for us … as is delivering the best of care to meet the needs of our patients." To back up that claim, Dr. Bauer points to the program's success in having published more than 100 studies on integrative medicine clinical trials that have helped show the value of treatments like massage, acupuncture, and other "mind-body" treatments -- "not as replacements, but as complements to the great care Mayo has always provided," Dr. Bauer says.

He also tells us that providers in Mayo's Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program helped to treat more than "25,000 unique patients" last year alone with services like acupuncture, massage, stress management and resiliency training, not to mention Caring Canine visits, Caring Hands Massage, music therapy, and Reiki treatments. "That's huge." Dr. Bauer says. He also notes that, "Delos and Mayo (Center for Innovation) are also building a new WELL Living lab with mockups of offices and living spaces to test products that can promote wellness and bring those with evidence to the market for the benefit of all." And, he notes, the Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living (a major seller that's transforming lives) is about to be followed by a book on happiness. (Clap along.)

Then there's the new Rejuvenate spa service that recently opened on the fifth floor of the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in Rochester that offers access to a full-service spa along with healthy living classes taught by Mayo Clinic experts in things like nutrition, physical activity, and resiliency.

"These are exciting, positive and reflect the pivotal point we are at (as an institution and as a nation struggling with health care). We need to be as adept at preventing disease and promoting health as we are at repairing and treating disease," Dr. Bauer says. "Integrative medicine is a huge part of that pivot point."

You can check out more of the innovative, and integrative, work being done by Mayo's Complementary and Integrative Medicine program here. Then share your comments and share this story with others via the handy social media tools.

Tags: alternative medicine, chelation, Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, Dr. Brent Bauer, Dr. Gervasio Lamas, Innovation, Practice story

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