iMosaic Conference Offers Broad Exploration of Integrative Medicine
People who attended the iMosaic Conference in Minneapolis benefited from wealth of information on current topics in integrative medicine. For example, they heard an update on recent controversies in nutrition from Alan R. Gaby, MD. They listened to talks on the emergence of certain nutrients as pharmacological agents, by Michael Murray ND, and on the inflammatory process, by Russell Jaffe, MD, PhD.
In addition, there was a remarkable atmosphere of openness and communication, says Jennifer Blair, LAc, MaOM, who practices at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
"When I attend large conferences, the experience is often somewhat lonely and isolating. I was just astounded by the warmth and camaraderie of the group as a whole, from all four organizations. At each of the talks I attended, there was a thoughtful approach and a generosity of spirit that was really quite remarkable."
Over 600 practitioners attend iMosaic, which stands for Integrative Medicine Offering Science-based Alternatives in Collaboration. The meeting, held April 6 to 10, combined the spring meetings of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), and the International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM). There were a variety of workshops during the two-day preconference, and over 30 bonus sessions during the conference itself.
Kate Niehoff attended iMosaic. She is finishing her second year at the Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, and expects to eventually become a primary care physician. There's an active integrative medicine study group at the school, and Niehoff first heard about iMosaic from a speaker at the meetings.
"In college I took a yoga class for fun, and that opened my eyes up to the idea that there is more to health care than we've got going on right now," she recalls. Since then she's been exploring topics such as naturopathic medicine and Eastern philosophies.
A great deal of the information at iMosaic was eye-opening, Niehoff says. "We learn a great deal of basic biochemistry in the first two years of medical school, so it was fresh in my mind, but it was amazing to listen to lectures which present the same material with a different spin. We learn about cardiovascular disease and the accumulation of lipids in the blood vessels as the main problem, but then you can also look at it as an inflammatory process."
Information that she learned at iMosaic about the magnitude of our environmental exposures will affect her future practice, Niehoff says. "We are exposed to so many insults every day, in our food, our clothing, everything," she says. "This information is going to influence the way I take a medical history, and how carefully I ask my patients about their lifestyle and the environment, where they live and work."
iMosaic as Old Home Week
For John L. Wilson Jr., MD, iMosaic was old home week. He has a long history with some of the organizations that joined together to present iMosaic; he's a past president of AAEM and also of ICIM. Mark Hoch, MD, who practices with him at the Great Smokies Medical Center in Asheville, is a past president of AHMA. "One reason I went to the iMosaic conference was to see how they could pull it off, how they could make it work," Wilson says. "To my complete delight, it was a spectacular conference, a nice melding of the cultures of the four organizations."
Wilson appreciated the talk by Robert Hedaya, MD, on treating resistant depression, which presented specific cases and discussed the benefits of nutritional supplements as well as mind-body methods. He also got a lot from the talk by Gregory A. Plotnikoff, MD, who discussed the latest research on vitamin D plus the recent report on it from the Institute of Medicine. "His talk was just fantastic, extremely well referenced and well delivered."
Wilson also particularly noted the talk by Tieraona Low Dog, MD, who spoke on integrative women's medicine. "Her information was sensible, down to earth, practical. It was the first time I've heard her speak; she is an engaging speaker who uses humor effectively."
He praises the mix of exhibitors and the hour-long breaks between formal presentations, which left enough space in the schedule for plenty of informal, one-on-one connections. "This meeting is a template of the kind of meetings we are going to see in the future," Wilson says. "The economy is down, and it is harder to travel, so doctors are going to value a large potpourri of choices that includes what interests them and affects their practice. I felt this conference really delivered that."
A Warm Welcome for CAM Practitioners
There's an active community of holistic practitioners in the Twin Cities, and substantial number of them served as volunteers at iMosaic. Blair experienced the conference as a volunteer and also as a speaker, since she gave a talk on holistic approaches to anxiety and depression during a preconference workshop. "Chinese medicine is a complete medical paradigm," she said. "From one point of view (and it is mine), functional medicine, quantum physics, and energy healing are all found in the principles of Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is so much more than a set of tools, so much more than our most popular and accessible therapy, acupuncture." She noted that Chinese medicine also includes dietary therapy, herbal medicine, and medical massage.
Throughout the conference, Blair was pleasantly surprised by the level of interactions that she experienced. "Without exception, every physician I met was delighted that I was there. They had questions for me; they were genuinely interested in what I was doing and what they might to learn from me." She drily adds, "That isn't the sort of experience an acupuncturist generally has when they attend a physicians' convention."
The iMosaic website is http://www.imosaicconference.com. Go there to sign up for e-mails about the next iMosaic conference, scheduled for 2012.
Elaine Zablocki has been a freelance health-care journalist for more than 20 years. She was the editor of Alternative Medicine Business News and CHRF News Files. She writes regularly for many health-care publications.