Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Panel Session Summary

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The audience attending the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) panel was asked to participate in a simple stress relief exercise by taking a deep breath in, and exhaling. Thus began the session with an introduction to Barbara Moquin, Ph.D, Program Officer at the National Institute of Health who presented “Integrative Health and Wellness around the World”.


Dr. Moquin set the working foundation by defining complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), its five categories, and the difference between complimentary, alternative and integrative medicine. Segueing to historical references of integrative modalities, Dr. Moquin provided examples of medical tourists from thousands of years ago to present.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines CAM as being a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. According to the NIH, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), there are five major areas of CAM:

1)Alternative medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, Ayurveda, naturopathic medicine and homeopathy

2) Mind–body interventions such as meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, prayer, music and dance therapy

3) Biologically-based therapies which includes the use of herbs, food supplements and special diets are commonly used by patients suffering from chronic diseases

4) Manipulative and body-based Therapies including massage and chiropractic

5) Energy therapies based on the concept of flow of energy, i.e.,reiki and therapeutic touch

The difference between complementary medicine, alternative medicine and integrative medicine was explained in the following manner: Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine while complimentary medicine is used together with conventional (Western) medicine and an integrative medicine approach combines treatments from conventional medicine and CAM of which there is some evidence of effectiveness and safety.

Integrative modalities were first documented in Epidauria, Greece where travelers journeyed far and wide to the Sanctuary of the healing god, Asklepios. In the 18th century, spas in England became popular for their mineral water in treating chronic illnesses.


Turkey, Greece, Italy, Hungary have a rich history of medical tourists seeking the benefits of geothermal waters which continues to attract wellness seekers today and therapeutic resorts span the globe using natural resources and traditional healing therapies to provide an integrative approach to medical/health tourism.

Steven Tan, M.D., M.T.O.M., L.Ac. Director, Complementary and Alternative Medicine at California Health & Longevity Institute spoke on “Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine”. Dr. Tan discussed key principles of Qi and Meridians, various types of Oriental medicine therapies, described acupuncture and medical conditions where acupuncture has been clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of illnesses and maladies.


Distilling the qualities of both, Eastern and Western, Dr. Tan observed they are a perfect pairing. See below.


Dr. Tan described Qi as vital energy that flows in channels called meridians. Three hundred and sixty acupoints lie on meridians. Health is balanced flow while symptoms/diseases represent disruptions in optimal flow.


Oriental medicine goes by the premise that all systems work best when opposite forces are in balance. Therapies include acupuncture and acupressure, reflexology, energy healing such as tai qi and qi gong, herbal medicine, Oriental nutrition and meditation.

Acupuncture uses sterile, single-use, disposable, hair-thin, usually painless needles that stimulate the body’s own healing response. A session takes 30-60 minutes and the number of sessions depends on goals. Multiple styles and methods of stimulation.

Acupuncture as been researched by the National Institute of Health and proven to be efficacious in the treatment of many health conditions including: addiction, stroke rehab, headaches, menstrual cramp, fibromyalgia, tennis elbow, post-op dental pain, nausea from chemotherapy.

Dr Tan concluded that Eastern and Western medicines complement each other well, that Oriental medicine is a seful modality for symptom intervention and promoting wellness and acupuncture is safe, effective, and convenient.

Dr. Miguel Lanzagorta, Chief, Energy Medicine of Sanoviv Medical Institute, discussed the current healthcare delivery paradigm vs an optimal healthcare approach where health is considered a positive vitality – not merely the absence of disease. The conventional medical approach is focused on symptom care. The alternative treatments aim to get at the root of the problem.

He discussed the core belief that the body has the power to heal itself when provided with the proper environment and is relieved of its accumulated toxic burden. Dr. Lanzagorta remarked that functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease.


It is a science-based field of health care that is grounded in some the following principles: There is an abundance of research now supporting the view that the human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously and without effect on each other.

Dr. Lanzagorta remarked that immunological dysfunctions can promote cardiovascular disease that dietary imbalances can cause hormonal disturbances and that environmental exposures can precipitate neurologic syndromes, such as Parkinson’s disease.


The promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance health span and it requires a dynamic balance of internal and external factors. Dr. Lanzgorta’s presentation focused on patient-centered medicine emphasizes “patient care” rather than “disease care,” following Sir William Osler’s admonition that, “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than to know what disease the patient has.”