My first encounter with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) occurred just after my sophomore year of college. I was visiting my cousins in Northern California and my aunt suggested that I tag along with my oldest cousin (a dancer) when she visited her acupuncturist. For fun, I could have an appointment too. Having had virtually no firsthand experience with CAM until this point, I thought, “why not?”.
An hour later I was sitting on a cushioned table having my tongue examined by a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner as she described her training (four years in the U.S. followed by five years in China), and explained how she was going to use acupuncture to help bring my “Qi” or vital life force back into balance. I spent the next twenty minutes lying on my back listening to soothing music and trying not to think about how incongruous it was to see acupuncture needles sticking out of my hands, legs and feet, but to not feel any pain.
Uncertain though I was about the efficacy of acupuncture (or any other type of alternative medicine, for that matter), I had to admit to myself as I left the office that day that I really did feel more relaxed and energetic. This observation piqued my curiosity, and I decided to learn more about alternative medicine and whether it was true that it could be effectively used to complement conventional care and enhance wellness.
Three years later, I completed my M.S. in Physiology/Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) at Georgetown University after learning a considerable amount about the scientific basis for CAM. To me, it seemed like a shame that the information I learned in my M.S. program wasn’t more widely known, since it could have huge implications for healthcare. And that’s how I got the idea to start The Zeneration.
The 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that about 38% of adults and 12% of children in the United States had used CAM in the previous year; it is likely that these percentages are even higher now since CAM use is steadily increasing. Chances are, you have used CAM within the last year, whether you realized it or not; CAM encompasses a number of common health practices. As new scientific studies are conducted, the field of CAM is in a permanent state of flux, and it can be hard to keep up! How do you know that the herbal supplement you bought at Whole Foods last week to boost your immune function is supported by legitimate research? That’s where I come in.
The Zeneration is my attempt to bridge the information gap between people within the field of CAM and everyone else. For basic background information about CAM, check out the “What is CAM?” page and the CAM Modalities drop-down menu. The Zeneration Blog will contain entries about more specific CAM topics including the most recent advances in research, CAM misconceptions, “Food as Medicine” Recipes, and CAM in the News. Have questions or comments about CAM? Check out The Zeneration Discussion Forum to share your insights and opinions. Also, feel free to use the Forum to request Blog topics if there is anything in particular you’d like to learn more about.
In a time when health care costs have skyrocketed, it is important to learn about preventative medicine and to take control of your health. Many CAM modalities focus on prevention and overall wellness and can be extremely helpful to that end. Welcome to The Zeneration!
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.