Mainstream Medicine Makes Way for Alternatives

by Merrily Manthey, M.S.

Published by CHOICES, the Newsletter of the Citizens for Alternative Health Care Winter 1996/7 Vol. No 4.

The marginally successful holistic health movement of the 1970's has given way to a more mature alternative medicine movement. This continues to be evidenced through the numbers of alternative health care symposiums and conferences. After participating in a November 21-22 conference on the integration of complementary and alternative medicine, held in Atlanta, GA, I came away with a strong sense of heightened transformation taking place. The conference brought together a distinguished panel of leading experts on the movement who detailed up-to-the minute information about the sweeping demand now being made for access and choice.

One presenter, Dr. Herbert Benson, MD, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, explained how he became convinced that humans are genetically encoded with the ability for self-healing. He said that anyone can tap into a reservoir of remembered wellness to affect and cure most medical complaints … that "sometimes affirmative beliefs are all we recall need to heal us." More than 20 years ago Benson became a leader in behavioral medicine after documenting the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation (see his book The Relaxation Response). Back then his work was considered "fringe" since he promoted alternative medical precepts. In a new book, Timeless Healing, he proposes a balanced treatment approach, drawing upon all components of health care: medications, medical procedures, and self-care that includes "remembered wellness."

I had been requested to provide data on the King County Natural Medicine Clinic (KCNMC). Other experts at the conference covered topics on assessing feasibility, legal and regulatory concerns of providing alternative care; engaging providers and the clinical aspects of alternative medicine; design for a continuum of care with allopathic practitioners; approaching insurers for coverage; developing outcomes for quality assurance and cost efficiency and even marketing complementary programs.

Astonishment and excitement surrounded my presentation on the KCNMC project. After my presentation, attendees clamored for even more detailed information on every fact we currently have about the month-old landmark public Clinic in Kent, WA.

Emerging health care organizations and their leaders are starting to make critical decisions about bringing alternative care to their u. This conference $1300 per person for two days was attended by health care practitioners and key administrators who are just beginning to understand how important the provision of choice will be now that this dynamic transformation of care is underway.

Enthusiasm for Clinic by Chinese Leaders:

Our Travels to China


Merrily Manthey, M.S.

Published in CHOICES, the Newsletter of Citizens for Alternative Health Care Winter 1996/7 Vol. No 4.

Research, collaborations, and information exchange are now on the plate for the King County Natural Medicine Clinic Project, as well as Bastyr University. Officials and leaders in Traditional Chinese Medicine are very enthusiastic about the rising interest in traditional Chinese medicine in the U.S. That was the predominant message I received on my two recent trips to China. Leaders are striving to balance their system with the best of Western medicine and the best of their ancient traditional medicine.

Trip # 1: In August I asked Kent's Mayor, Jim White, whether the sister city of Kent [Yangzhou, China] might be interested in knowing about Kent's involvement in natural medicine. As soon as officials in Yangzhou learned about our projects, it was suggested that I travel there to meet with them. Coincidentally, Mayor White was leading a trade delegation to China in September. I decided to accompany this delegation to establish an international connection between our cities and projects. Traveling with me was Holly Han, a member of the Natural Medicine Task Force in Kent.

Result of Trip # 1:

We met with Yangzhou officials, including those governing Yangzhou University and its School of Medicine. At the conclusion of our meetings we signed an agreement describing the potential collaborations we envisioned. Part of the agreement included the intention that an official delegation would visit Kent, the Clinic, and further develop the project. The agreement also stated a strong desire for Traditional Chinese Medicine masters to spend time at the Clinic and with other natural medicine practitioners. Evidence of the commitment was quite apparent. Less than one and one-half months later the Yangzhou delegation walked thorough the newly-opened Clinic in Kent.

Trip # 2:

A week-an-a-half after I returned from Trip #1, I left for Beijing with Joe Pizzorno, ND, President of Bastyr University, Dr. Mark Nolting, Chair of the Oriental Medicine Department at Bastyr, Holly Han and Katrina Chan, friends of Bastyr.

Result of Trip # 2:

Our first meeting was with top health officials in China's Central Government. China's current Vice Minister of Health and Former Minister of Health of China enthusiastically embraced the idea of collaborations, exchanges, and participation in research.

This resulted in additional meetings with officials of universities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Shanghai, Chengdu, and Beijing. We also visited TCM hospitals and an Academy of TCM where ancient books over 1,000 years old were being translated from the classical Chinese language into modern Chinese and being entered into a data base for CD ROM. In fact, over 50% of all TCM documents are stored in a special vault at the Academy. In the computer center I showed the officials the Internet web site I created for our natural medicine project. In an instant my hosts were able to read press reports and articles about the Clinic and see that my itinerary for the current trip to China was posted on the web page ( ).

In all of the places we visited people were intensely interested in the natural medicine movement in the United States. As I mentioned, I was surprised to learn that traditional Chinese medicine has been struggling to survive amongst the enamor of Western high tech health care in China. As a result, the officials we met spoke with significant interest in our proposal for a multi-center research project with the universities of TCM and Bastyr.

This, I'm told, will be the first research project of this kind:a collaboration of the leading institutions of TCM in China and the leading institution of natural medicine in the U.S. This landmark research project will be unfolding soon, with hopes of early beginnings in the spring of 1997.