1st Annual Yale Integrative Medicine Scientific Symposium

For immediate release
April 2, 2008, New Haven, CT

Today marked an historic occasion for the Yale School of Medicine, with the hosting of the 1st Annual Yale Integrative Medicine Scientific Symposium at The Anlyan Center for Education and Research (TAC). Almost two hundred participants from around the University, the state, and the region attended the day long conference, which began and ended with optional meditation and yoga sessions for those interested.

Hosted by the newly formed Integrative Medicine Initiative at Yale in collaboration with Yales Continuing Medical Education Office, the conference covered various topics in Complementary and Alternative medicine, ranging from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Therapeutic Touch, and Transcendental Meditation, to explorations of Clinical and Community-Based Models for Integrative Medicine. Far exceeding organizer’s expectations, the conference was full to capacity weeks in advance, with a waiting list of more than 50 people, with even more showing up at the door hoping to get in.

The conference began with welcome and introductions from Richard Belitsky, MD, Dean of the Yale Medical School and Rachel Friedman, MSV, one of the Course Directors. Many thanks were given to the many sponsors and organizers at the Yale School of Medicine, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Yale School of Nursing, and Integrative Therapeutics, Inc. Concurrent workshops in the morning and afternoon gave participants the opportunity to explore several subjects in more detail, including Reiki, Qigong, and Art and Music as forms of healing.

Dr. Bernie Siegel, renowned physician and author of “Love, Medicine, and Miracles,” delivered the Keynote address to a captivated audience, speaking on The Psychology of Illness and the Art of Healing. Through Dr. Siegels many years in medicine and surgery, he has healed countless patients, not by medications and procedures alone, but by intuition and whole-patient care. Sprinkled with many vignettes from his career and the lives of the patients he has touched over the years, Dr. Siegel’s address inspired the audience to “heal” rather than to simply “treat,” and to listen to the whole patient rather than to isolated diseases and conditions. His advice to all healers: “learn how to communicate.” With this perspective, as Dr. Siegel has gathered from his own career, “everything you need to know about healing… you get your own life in order.”

Several of the day’s events featured Reiki, a form of energy healing and light touch therapy which is gaining increasing prevalence in hospice facilities and the care of cancer patients. At the Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Volunteer Services Office has been offering Reiki treatment for cancer, cardiac, and rehab patients for the last several years, led by Reiki Master Claire Bessinger. During each of the two Workshop sessions, Integrative Health Care Consulatant and Reiki Master Pamela Miles lshared Clinical Perspectives on the use of Reiki in Clinical Settings. Rachel Friedman, graduating medical student at the Yale School of Medicine, presented her research on the benefits of Reiki for cardiac rehab patients. In collaboration with Dr. Rachel Lampert, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale, the NIH-funded study demonstrated that even a single 20-minute Reiki session can promote the recovery of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) more effectively than a “minimal distraction environment” or meditative music therapy.

The day-long symposium also offered local alternative health companies and practitioners an opportunity to showcase their products and services in combination with poster presentations on other aspects of academic research on integrative medicine. Poster presentations covered topics from herbal therapies to art therapy, spinal manipulation to acupuncture, and Traditional African Healing to Ayurvedic Medicine. The vendor booths featured materials and products from the Greenwood Publishing Group, Standard Process distributors, Juice PLUS, the Connecticut Holistic Health Association, and several other organizations, including Natural Healing Alternatives.

Proceeds of the conference are planned to be published in “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine,” one of the top peer-reviewed journals in the field. The conference was supported in large part by an educational grant from Integrative Therapeutics, Inc., with additional support coming from Trader Joe’s, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the Yale School of Nursing. For more information on current and future Integrative Medicine activities at Yale, including the 2nd Integrative Medicine Scientific Symposium, please visit Integrative Medicine at Yale online.

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