Integrative Medicine

Deb -lrgRecently I had the opportunity to attend a symposium of integrative medicine professionals in New Mexico. Since I was there representing National as an exhibitor, I did not attend the many exciting and innovative workshops, but I did speak to many exciting and innovative health care practitioners who are inspired to bring their practices to another level in patient care. Making the adventure even more interesting was the diversity of the participants. In attendance and conducting workshops were MDs, PhDs, RNs, dietitians, chiropractors, naturopaths, nutritionists, oriental medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, and yes, massage therapists.

Of most interest to me was the fact that a good portion of the workshops were lead or assisted by MDs. I think that I have unfairly grouped MDs together as practitioners who prefer to work with other MDs and shun complementary and alternative care providers. Nothing could have been further from the truth in this setting. If I were from Mars and came to earth for the first time landing smack dab in the middle of this group I would feel their unity, their deep and abiding desire to help and nurture. and be very impressed with the quality of care offered to earthlings.

The only things that resembled any other conference or symposium that I've ever attended were a continental breakfast, refreshment breaks and lunch on your own! Seriously, this was so far off the beaten path and so intense in its purity and energy that I felt privileged to rub elbows with these forward thinking professionals.

The first day started with a keynote presentation on the future of integrative medicine. Workshops included: Integrative Pain Management; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Native American Healing Practices; and Mexican Folk Healing. The afternoon sessions concentrated on cardiology with an Integrative Cardiology; Yoga Therapy for Cardiovascular Health; and Prayer, Healing and the Soul. Day two covered oncology and pediatrics and these sessions included: Chinese Herbal Medicine in Integrative Oncology; Restorative Qualities of Oncology Massage, Yoga for Breast Cancer; Chiropractic Medicine in Adults and Children; Homeopathy in Daily Practice; Healing with Hypnotherapy in Children; and Indigenous Healing Traditions.

Day three addressed women's health issues including nutrition, osteoporosis, chronic stress, and core strength. The symposium concluded with a look at integrative pharmacy with workshops that included The Herbal Kitchen, Ayurvedic Pharmacy, and a Botanicals Panel.

Being a huge supporter of complementary and alternative care, I was in awe of the amount of information that was exchanged by these leaders in integrative medicine. There was an outpouring of support for one another, an eagerness to learn from each other, and a yearning to create a new model of health care together.

Some of the additional benefits offered at this conference were sunrise yoga and meditation at 6:30 am. Our continental breakfast had background music from a harpist one day and a flutist another - and there wasn't a sweet roll or donut in sight. Complementary chair massages were offered by students of the massage program at the University of New Mexico. One evening there was a community ritual for healing offered offsite at the Dragonfly Sanctuary and participants were asked to fast for the day for optimal success. There was much buzz the next morning about how extraordinary the experience had been.

The best part for me was meeting massage therapists who use their practices to improve the health of their clients and, in this setting, were accepted and respected for their part in integrative care. As groups like this one take up the challenge to engage their patients in a wide variety of holistic care, massage therapy will be elevated to its proper position in the health care system. 

So get on board and explore the possibilities of this profession - the sky is the limit! Join the growing list of professionals who call themselves massage therapists and use touch as their healing art. We make it easy for you with our Intro to Massage mini course where you can be a student for two weeks, fall in love with the profession and unleash your inner healer.