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Integrative Health Working Group

CHE's Integrative Health Working Group was initiated by Michael Lerner, President of Commonweal and Fredi Kronenberg, Ph.D., Director of the Rosenthal Center on Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University.

This group has formed for three fundamental reasons:

First, many CHE Partners who are personally facing illness turn to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies because mainstream therapies alone often are inadequate for many environmentally related diseases. Specifically, many CHE Partners face cancer, learning and developmental disabilities (including autism), infertility, and Parkinson's Disease -- just to name the conditions that we focus on in specific Working Groups. For these Partners, the use of CAM therapies in conjunction with the best available conventional therapies is sometimes a serious consideration.

Second, there are strong theoretical reasons linking the increasingly stressed environment in which we live and some CAM therapies that promote general resilience and reduce harmful exposures. There is a link, in other words, between the "ecological illnesses" that Ted Schettler, MD, so ably describes and the "integrative therapies" that combine conventional and complementary approaches to health promotion, disease prevention and disease treatment.

Third, the success of CAM therapies can in some instances provide important clues to the etiology of conditions that are otherwise very obscure. For example, the question of whether autism is in fact increasing as a result of environmental exposures is linked to the controversy over whether CAM therapies for autism that include reducing toxic exposures and enhancing nutritional resilience actually improve the health of some people with autism. Careful scientific study of these treatment claims will help elucidate the broader public health issues in this critical field.

Therefore, the foci of the Working Group include:

(1) balanced evaluation of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies that are used by patients facing the many illnesses linked to environmental exposures;
(2) discussion and exploration of what Ted Schettler calls the "ecological" model of health and disease; and
(3) discussion and exploration of practical ways that families and communities are adopting to reduce toxic exposures and build psychophysiological resilience in an increasingly stressed world.

This group welcomes CHE Partners who are interested in participating in this discussion. This group convenes via listserv.

If you are interested in joining this group, please sign on as a CHE Partner, and indicate your interest in your application. If you are already a CHE Partner and would like to join the listserv for this group send an email request to: cheintegrativehealth-subscribe@lists.healthandenvironment.org



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