Alternative and Complementary Health Practices
Section Newsletter
Spring 2009

Message from the Co-Chairs


Greetings ACHP SPIG members and friends,

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue of our newsletter, as well as to our Program Committee (Anne Doherty-Gilman, Karen Boulanger, and Rick Harvey) and those of you who submitted abstracts. The offerings for the Nov. 7-11 APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia are inspiring, and include the following:

  • Special session with Dr. Josephine Briggs of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

  • Education, practice, and quality in ACHP.

  • Special topics in ACHP.

  • Roundtable discussions and experiential activities.

  • Up-to-the-minute research updates.

  • Issues in working with individuals diagnosed with cancer and chronic diseases.

  • Integration of ACHP into practice.

  • Mind, body, and spirituality.

  • Special populations and ACHP.

  • Integrative therapies and wellness.

  • Posters!

Our SPIG’s presentations will be based at the Philadelphia Marriott. Set your calendars to our Monday business meeting; time and place to be announced.

Wishing you a happy, refreshing, and (seemingly) endless summer!

ACHP Co-Chairs

Beth Sommers

Rick Harvey

ACHP SPIG Booth at Annual Meeting


Beth Rosenthal will be coordinating our group's schedule and activities at our booth in the Exhibition Hall. If you're interested in being involved with any of the booth's activities (e.g. staffing for an hour or more; having your organization's materials displayed at the booth; distributing newsletters or other brochures at the booth) please contact her at:

ACHP Members’ Research Articles for Discussion


Yoga and Mental Illnesses

Manoj Sharma, MBBS, CHES, PhD

Professor, Health Promotion & Education

University of Cincinnati

PO Box 210068

Cincinnati, OH 45221-0068

513) 556-3878 (Phone)

(513) 556-3898 (Fax) (E-mail)

Mental illnesses occur commonly around the world and cause serious impairments in functioning. According to the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys (WMS), the inter-quartile range (25th-75th percentiles) of lifetime DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV) illness prevalence estimates is 18.1-36.1 percent, and 12 month prevalence is 9.8- 19.1 percent (1). Mental illnesses are classified as psychosis (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) and neurosis (anxiety disorders, eating disorders, etc.). Medical science has made remarkable progress in terms of treatment of these illnesses, but the treatment remains mostly symptomatic. Most of the time the patient is prescribed treatments that last for a lifetime, and the cause is never found. Therefore, there is interest in complementary and alternative systems of medicine in preventing and treating mental illnesses. One such form of therapy that has been used in treatment of mental illnesses is yoga.

The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘union.’ It is an ancient system of physical and psychic practice that originated during the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia. The first written records of this methodology appeared around 200 BC in Yogasutra of Patanjali (2). The system consisted of the eightfold path or Asthangayoga. In contemporary literature, yoga has been described in several ways. In a more modern context yoga has been defined as “a systematic practice and implementation of mind and body in the living process of human beings to keep harmony within self, within society, and with nature” (3, 4).

The traditional practice of yoga was quite rigorous and arduous and entailed life-long devoted practice and adherence to strict austerities. Today many schools of yoga have simplified the techniques, making these more suitable for users in different walks of life. The eight conventional steps of Asthangayoga consist of Yama (rules for living in society), Niyama (self-restraining rules), Asaana (low physical impact postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques), Pratihara (detachment of the mind from senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (complete union with super consciousness) (5).

A study with unipolar depression patients found that yoga intervention showed significant reduction in depression, anger, anxiety, and neurotic symptoms (6). Another study with Sudarshan Kriya Yoga on depression found it to be useful (7). Another study with depression found that significantly more yoga group participants experienced remission than control group (8), and a study using mindfulness meditation found it to be useful in anxiety disorders (9). A study of yoga as an add-on treatment in schizophrenia found that subjects in a yoga therapy group experienced significantly less psychopathology, had significantly higher social and occupational functioning, and had greater quality of life than those in a physical exercise therapy group (10). Thus, it can be said that yoga has shown promising results in treatment of mental illnesses. More studies using randomized control design should be conducted with yoga in mental illnesses.


  1. Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Chatterji S, Lee S, Ormel J, Ustün TB, Wang PS. The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc. 2009;18(1):23-33.

  2. Singh K. Religions of India. New Delhi: Clarion Books; 1983:76-78.

  3. Maharishi YV. Journey of consciousness. New Delhi: Macmillan India Limited;1992:2-50.

  4. Maharishi YV. Logical solutions for the problems of humanity. Erode, India: Vethathiri Publications;1998:4.

  5. Romas JA, Sharma M. Practical stress management. A comprehensive workbook for managing change and promoting health. 5th ed. San Francisco, CA: Benajamin Cummings; 2010:56.

  6. Shapiro D, Cook IA, Davydov DM, Ottaviani C, Leuchter AF, Abrams M. Yoga as a complementary treatment of depression: effects of traits and moods on treatment outcome. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007;4(4):493-502.

  7. Janakiramaiah N, Gangadhar BN, Naga Venkatesha Murthy PJ, Harish MG, Subbakrishna DK, Vedamurthachar A. Antidepressant efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in melancholia: a randomized comparison with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and imipramine. J Affect Disord. 2000;57(1-3):255-259.

  8. Butler LD, Waelde LC, Hastings TA, Chen XH, Symons B, Marshall J, Kaufman A, Nagy TF, Blasey CM, Seibert EO, Spiegel D. Meditation with yoga, group therapy with hypnosis, and psychoeducation for long-term depressed mood: a randomized pilot trial. J Clin Psychol. 2008;64(7):806-820.

  9. Miller JJ, Fletcher K, Kabat-Zinn J. Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1995;17(3):192-200.

  10. Duraiswamy G, Thirthalli J, Nagendra HR, Gangadhar BN. Yoga therapy as an add-on treatment in the management of patients with schizophrenia--a randomized controlled trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007;116(3):226-232.

Meetings and Members’ Activities



  1. Promoting the Health of the Nation: Institute of Medicine Hosts Summit on Integrative Care

Beth Sommers, MPH, LAc, PhD (candidate)

The Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C. held a three-day summit on integrative care in February that drew public health professionals, clinicians and researchers. ACHP was well-represented by a number of our members. Over 600 people attended the summit, which offered presentations, discussions and opportunities for dialogue with experts from around the country.

Speakers included Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Dr. Josephine Briggs (NCCAM) and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Recurring themes and areas of interest included advancing the base of evidence for integrative approaches and envisioning changes that can occur at all levels to meaningfully implement aspects of integrative health. Discussions touched on all aspects of the human experience – mind, body and spirit – to critically examine current health care challenges and to develop workable models of integrative care. Emphasizing that “what is good for an individual is also beneficial for the planet,” a number of speakers re-iterated that effective networks of care have already been created.

Adopting new priorities for wellness and integrated health practices does not necessarily translate into additional national spending. Priorities can be shifted to emphasize and reward effective wellness strategies. The United States is already spending $2 trillion for health care (the largest budget of any country in the world), but is ranked 40th in overall national health. Speakers noted that there has been a critical failure to focus on health promotion and disease prevention, with the health care industry becoming a disease-centric and dysfunctional system that fails all stakeholders: consumers, providers and payers.

Adopting a paradigm of wellness also requires trans-professional cooperation and education, getting students out of “training silos” that isolate them from other learning experiences. Partnerships between schools of different disciplines are essential to educate tomorrow’s health professionals. Dr. Carol Black, of Britain’s Royal Academy of Medicine, encourages cross-professional synergies and interactive learning that train students to cooperate and function as a team. For example, in this model students from schools of nursing and medicine could take some courses together to develop a better understanding of how to work together in the best interests of their patients.

Slides and audio-files of the Summit are available at:

  1. Partnership in Public Health: Public Health Students Contribute to Research in Boston

Beth Sommers

Pathways to Wellness has been working with the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) since 2003 to provide students with real world opportunities in integrative care, cutting-edge research, and community-oriented projects.

Three students who are graduating from the Master of Public Health program at BUSPH this spring spent the previous semester working with Pathways’ Research Department on two of our current projects – the digestive side-effect study and the Win Win Hands On massage program.

Sheriza Baksh and Chung-Wei (Jasper) Yang became involved with our clinical trial that is examining the effects of acupuncture and relaxation on digestive symptoms related to the use of HIV-medications. This three-year study is funded by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Jasper’s project focused on statistical approaches to quantifying medication adherence; its title is “Medication Adherence Rate Calculations: Algorithm Development and SAS Programming.” His contribution helped to work with missing and duplicate data, developing a dataset that included the following methods of determining adherence: pill counts, pharmacy records, and medication diaries. His efforts are appreciated because they help us know how to best describe adherence. Jasper worked with the study’s principal investigator, Bei-Hung Chang, who is a statistician. In May, Jasper will be awarded his Master’s degree in public health focused on environmental health.

Sheriza Baksh, a student specializing in epidemiology, worked with Pathways Research Associate Helen Lim for the digestive side-effects study. She assisted with participant recruitment efforts, prepared study materials, and did data-entry for the clinical trial. She also helped with assessing the appropriate interpretation of missing data. She became a vital part of the research team, and her efforts and contributions have been greatly appreciated.

Win Win Hands On had the benefit of an international health concentrator, Molly Kessner. This study, funded by the Massage Therapy Foundation, is examining the role of massage as part of a comprehensive approach to promoting healthy habits for adolescent girls at risk of diabetes. Massage may have a role in helping girls to improve their self-worth and body image, and may be a positive incentive for attending gym and exercise classes. Molly worked to help recruit girls for the project, as well as administering questionnaires.

The students’ contributions to these projects provided essential person-power to the Research Department. BUSPH’s partnership benefited Pathways, the students, and participants in the research projects. The students’ enthusiasm and willingness to learn have been important qualities.


Special messages from APHA

  1. From Nov. 7-11, 2009 thousands of public health professionals will convene in Philadelphia for the APHA 137th Annual Meeting and Exposition. More than 1,000 cutting-edge scientific sessions will be presented by public health researchers, academicians, policy-makers and practitioners on the most current public health issues facing the nation today. To ensure that no public health professional misses this opportunity, this year’s Annual Meeting will be more affordable than ever. Hotel rates have been slashed so that no rates are higher than $195. Eleven of the 15 contracted hotels are offering rates between $149 and $179. Registration and Housing opened June 1. Save up to $115 on registration by registering before August 28. Take advantage of these discounts and join your colleagues in a meeting you won’t want to miss. For more information about the Annual Meeting and the role your Section or SPIG will make to ensure its success, visit!

We’re on Twitter: APHAAnnualMtg

  1. Public Health CareerMart over 1,000 jobs listed!

APHA has created the Public Health CareerMart to be the online career resource center in the field of public health. Here, you’ll find only qualified, industry professionals. Job seekers, instead of searching through hundreds of sites looking for the perfect jobs in public health, you will find it all at the Public Health CareerMart, Career Development Center at .

Employers, instead of being inundated with stacks of unrelated, irrelevant resumes, you’re much more likely to find the candidates with the skills and experience you’re looking for — and spend less time doing it! After all, where better to find the best public health professionals than the association that represents them?

Public Health CareerMart is a member of the National Healthcare Career Network.

  1. Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Manual

APHA is proud to annouce the release of "Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners". This manual provides public health professionals with information, skills and tools needed to conduct screening and brief intervention (SBI) to help at-risk drinkers reduce their alcohol use. Download the manual for free: 

  1. New Book On Disability Studies

"Disabilty and Public Health," published by APHA, is now available. The publication is an important and overdue contribution to the core curriculum of disability studies in public health education. It is a particularly timely book because, as our nation ages, disability is an increasingly significant interdisciplinary area of study and service domain in public health. Visit the APHA online bookstore at APHA members can also take advantage of a 30 percent member discount whether ordering online or via our toll-free number, (888) 320-2742.


  1. Healing Center Discussion Event

Healing Centers United (HCU) is sponsoring a conference call discussion event on Monday June 15, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. This will be the first of a series of calls, facilitated by HCU member Connie Hampton, to create forums for information sharing and to assist interested parties in problem-solving the challenges of starting and running integrative health centers.

Healing Centers United, a nonprofit organization, is a clearinghouse of information about holistic healing centers and a networking service for patients, healing centers, and organizations supporting holistic healing. For more information visit or e-mail Beth Rosenthal at

  1. Physical Activity SPIG Announces 5K Fun Run/Walk

While in Philadelphia for the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting, join your colleagues for the 2nd Annual 5K Fun Run/Walk on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 10. The 5K (3.1-mile) route will feature views of the Schuylkill River and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the steps of which were made famous in the movie Rocky. More information about this activity, including a course map, will be published in the Fall newsletters of the Physical Activity SPIG and other Sections and SPIGs and will be made available at the Annual Meeting. In the meantime, please contact Genevieve Dunton ( or Jim Konopack ( with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia!

3) Update on recent CHW SPIG activities and APHA updates

The Community Health Worker Special Primary Interest Group (CHW SPIG) of APHA needs your support as we embark on a membership drive to continue our CHW workforce development and educational efforts.

We have applied for APHA Section status, and we need to increase our numbers as a final step toward section status.

If you are already an APHA member, please designate the CHW SPIG as your Primary or Secondary affiliation. If you are not a current APHA member please consider joining as a CHW SPIG member.

There are opportunities in four states, including Massachusetts, for a reduced cost joint annual membership in APHA and a State Public Health Association Affiliate. For more information, contact

4) Dear APHA Affiliates, APHA Inter-Sectional Council, and SPIG leaders:

APHA and the ACBI Advisory Committee continues to envision peer-to-peer learning and sharing to be a key component of the APHA Affiliate Capacity-Building Initiative. We often hear from you that Affiliates, Sections, and SPIGs have expertise to share. We want to learn more. APHA is seeking case studies and best practices to showcase during upcoming technical assistance opportunities for Affiliates. Please see the attached Request for Proposals for more information.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Healthiest Nation in One Generation viral video campaign at Then help us spread the word by sharing it with your members,colleagues, family and friends!

For more information, please contact Catherine Henze, MPH
Deputy Director of Affiliate Affairs
American Public Health Association
800 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-3710
Phone: (202) 777-2508
Fax: (202) 777-2531