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Non-Traditional Treatments Boost Patient Care
Working in tandem with conventional medicine, a new service brings complementary healing practices to Hopkins

Kathleen Menten will direct mind-body classes, recommended for patients like those with cancer or chronic pain.
Close your eyes. Breathe in. Let go of everything that brought you to this moment. Breathe out. Focus only on the breathing. Breathe in. Don’t worry about five minutes ago, or five minutes from now. Breathe out. You exist only in the present.

Meditation techniques such as this one have long been used in Eastern medicine to reduce stress and to tap the link between mind and body that many believe is the key to fighting disease. Starting this month, Hopkins patients will be able to integrate these practices into their traditional treatments through classes in meditation and eventually, acupuncture, massage therapy and more.

The sessions, offered through Hopkins’ Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), are part of a fledgling program that reflects a growing national interest in nonconventional healing practices. Hopkins’ CAM Center had already established research and education arms nearly five years ago with a $7.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. In keeping with Hopkins’ tripartite mission, says CAM Center Director Adrian Dobs, it was time to open the door to a new patient care program—the Complementary and Integrative Medical Service.

“Health care professionals have always known that a patient’s attitude toward his or her disease has a great effect on its progression, and that patients are hungry for a sense of empowerment,” says Dobs. “We just haven’t had the tools to support that. With this program, we can help patients integrate creative healing techniques into their established care plan.”

Few academic medical centers offer such a comprehensive mind-body program, says Kathleen Menten, the clinical nurse specialist and licensed acupuncturist who will run it. It’s a bold statement for this particular institution, but Menten is confident demand will be high. According to a 2002 survey conducted by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more than 36 percent of Americans now use some form of CAM, particularly cancer patients, where the number is closer to 70 percent. This includes therapies such as acupuncture and massage administered by practitioners, and self-practiced methods such as yoga and meditation.

The new Complementary and Integrative Medical Service will initially offer three-hour sessions in mind-body healing techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, belly breathing, relaxation and journaling. The classes are recommended for patients like those with cancer or chronic pain.

“These techniques give patients coping strategies and skills that they can use on a daily basis, long after the class is over,” says Menten, who will teach the sessions.

Classes for groups of about 20 will be held in Weinberg and at Green Spring each March, September and January. Participants can choose either a short version of eight sessions ($375), or a more comprehensive 12-session version ($480). All participants are also invited to bring a significant other, free of charge, and scholarships will be available.

Both Menten and Dobs caution that in the mostly unregulated world of complementary and alternative medicine, rigorous scientific research is essential. Investigations into the effects and mechanisms of herbal remedies and mind-body medicine are still in the nascent stages even at the national level. NIH is pushing for medical research centers to do more such work.

In that vein, Dobs plans to recruit Hopkins investigators and practitioners to expand research studies and clinical services. “We need people who have the classical research technique methodology plus a CAM focus to their work,” she says. “Our aim is to understand the impact of emotional, cognitive and social factors on health outcomes.”

Menten adds that eventually she’d like to open the meditation sessions to employees and step up patient options to include botanical consultations, acupuncture and massage therapy.

Lindsay Roylance

Info: Kathleen Menten, 410-502-0934 or kmenten1@jhmi.edu.

CAM Research at Hopkins

The Effects of CAM Interventions on Oxidative DNA Damage in Cancer Cells
Principal Investigator: William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.
Goal: To address mechanisms underlying the effects of CAM approaches for cancer.

Complementary Therapies for Cancer Pain
Principal Investigator: Srinivasa Raja, M.B.B.S.
Goal: To investigate the effects of dietary supplements (such as soy and tart cherries) and traditional herbal remedies on pain behavior in various animal models of chronic pain due to breast and prostate cancer.

Fish Oils for the Treatment of Weight Loss in Cancer Patients
Principal Investigator: Adrian Dobs, M.D.
Goal: To evaluate the effects of short-term administration of fish oils on weight loss in patients with gastrointestinal cancers.

Info: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/CAM



 




 

 

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