Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Open Letter to Dr. Weil

The following open letter was written as a "public argument" assignment during a course at the University of Arizona. A copy of the letter was sent to Dr. Weil at the Center and to The Daily Wildcat (the UA's student paper).

A True Integration of CAM and Homeopathy:
Educational Outreach Programs for College Students

An Open Letter to Dr. Weil, Founder and Director 
of the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine

Dear Dr. Weil,
          I admire your success at incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine’s curriculum twenty years ago. It has been an excellent resource for UA medical students to explore all aspects of healing. But why stop there? You have a unique opportunity through the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (“the Center”) to develop an on-campus educational outreach program for rest of the UA students’ benefit. I salute your commitment to uniting CAM and conventional medicine through the Center. However, to move toward true integration—which means going beyond the limitations of educating only health care professionals—requires reaching out as well to non-medical students who may be unaware of CAM’s many benefits. Most of them would greatly benefit from knowing about CAM’s uses in acute care and first aid; homeopathy, in particular, is an incredible system for addressing both prevention and healing.

          As I’m sure you are aware, there are many trials being conducted to prove the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies for acute conditions. Plus, the recent brilliant result of large-scale homeopathic prophylaxis in Cuba supports its ability to potentially prevent colds and flu. Homeopathic remedies—now often referred to as nanodoses, which is a term that might appeal to savvy students—would have a direct positive impact upon a student’s ability to focus on classwork without the frustration of colds, flu, allergies, minor injuries, headaches (from heat, studying, caffeine, or other sources), exam nerves, sleep deprivation, and more. Instead of being limited to the usual over-the-counter or prescription pharmaceuticals—with their inherent risks of side-effects, overdose, toxicity, and chemical addiction—wouldn’t it be great if UA students knew how to choose a safe, effective natural remedy like homeopathy? I have spoken with classmates who confirm that they would value a basic education in natural alternatives. Why not, as you say on your web site, “exploit [homeopathy] as a safe, effective way to treat disease” by developing an on-campus educational outreach program?

          There are several outreach options that are potentially viable for educating non-medical students about homeopathy. For instance, the Center could provide an informational booth on the mall at regular intervals and/or develop brochures, posters, and displays to be made available through Campus Health. Further, has the Center actively solicited UA to offer a General Education Tier I course in public health that includes CAM options? Have you considered these scenarios? If you have discarded them as impractical, are you and your staff working to resolve the impediments? Within any of the preceding outreach options, the Center could teach UA students how to be more responsible for themselves by treating their own first aid, acute, and self-limiting conditions. Through the process of self-care, students can become empowered and build self-confidence, which will flow into other aspects of their studies and post-college lives. Therefore, why not encourage this greater good through an outreach program to be developed by the Center? Imagine the potential for the growth of integrative medicine if there wasn’t a segregation between educating medical and non-medical students.

          I have classmates who are frazzled, tired, and often unable to eat well due to their hectic schedules. And, while I am the first one to agree with you that health should begin with good quality food, there are many homeopathic remedies that could provide valuable support to students. I was shocked at how many students had struggled with illnesses that, in my experience, could have been prevented, or at least have had the effects minimized, through knowledgeable access to homeopathic remedies. Several of my classmates have stated that they would appreciate learning how to choose natural, non-toxic remedies for health care as a first choice so that they can leave pharmaceutical drugs as a second choice.

           Since beginning my own homeopathic studies many years ago, I have been amazed repeatedly by the healing that occurs when using homeopathic remedies. Like many currently-enrolled UA students, I was relatively low-income, had sporadic personal health insurance, and was constantly on-the-go. When I became involved with animal rescue efforts, my frustrations increased. Many of the animals in my care were either unresponsive to conventional medicines or their symptoms recurred as soon as I stopped giving the medicine, for example upper respiratory infections in cats or diarrhea in dogs. With the gradual transition to homeopathy, though, and in collaboration with open-minded veterinarians in these efforts, I have seen tremendous benefits to the animals in my care—from minor problems to deep tissue pyoderma to pancreatitis to splenic rupture—without being forced to resort to expensive and/or invasive procedures or toxic drugs in order to maintain a high quality of life for each animal. Thus, I don’t write to you without having experienced first-hand the abundant and obvious benefits of homeopathy, and I know these results are not limited to whatever placebo effect comes from providing compassionate care.

            I realize that you may have concerns about the placebo controversy and how that aspect might impact the Center’s on-going work with the UA College of Medicine. However, homeopathy is a time-substantiated therapeutic system often set aside simply because how it works is not understood to the satisfaction of the greater conventional medical community. My research shows that there are many studies and trials substantiating the effectiveness of homeopathy and negating the claims of placebo effect; my personal experiences confirm these conclusions.

          The Center has been established for two decades. Isn’t it time to eliminate the segregation of health care education? Isn’t it time to take the initiative to provide CAM education to all UA students? Isn’t it time to show students that they have many options for taking care of their health?

           In closing, I beseech you to create an on-campus outreach program for the purpose of educating UA students about their CAM health care options. More specifically, I implore you to make homeopathy a major component of this outreach program and accessible for every student on campus. I feel that the time has come for the Center to step into the future and become a dynamic presence of which all UA students are aware so that they have the option of using complementary and alternative medicines like homeopathy to take care of themselves and become healthier in the process.

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