Alternative and Complementary Health Practices
Section Newsletter
Fall 2006

Letter from the Co-Chairs

Dear SPIG Members:

We are looking forward to seeing you in Boston this November for the 134th Annual Meeting and Exposition. The Alternative and Complementary Health Practices SPIG had an excellent response to our call for abstracts, and we will be presenting our best program yet. Through the hard work of our new program planning coordinator, Dr. Rick Harvey, and our team of abstract reviewers, we will be offering over 25 presentations and 20 posters (see below). There is still room for a few more poster presentations, so please feel free to contact Dr. Harvey if you have something you want to submit:

During the meeting we will also be offering free acupuncture sessions as we have done during the past several annual meetings. Plus, this year we will also be providing free massage. So take a break during the conference and come by our booth on Monday or Tuesday for an acupuncture treatment or a massage.

This has also been a good year for membership. We continue to grow and we are working to increase our presence in APHA in other ways. We worked on getting an ACHP-focused plenary session for the 2006 human rights themed meeting. A number of alternative medicine luminaries from the Boston area were ready to come and speak. Although the proposal was not accepted by APHA, this effort was a positive step toward bringing ACHP philosophies and practices into the forefront of public health.

To help promote the integration of Alternative and Complementary Health Practices into APHA and public health, here is what you can do:

  • Attend our business meeting at the annual meeting: Monday, Nov. 6, 6:30-9:00 p.m., room TBA, and get involved with the SPIG.
  • Tell other APHA members to become ACHP SPIG members.
  • Tell your CAM-oriented colleagues who are not APHA members that APHA has a progressive SPIG they should join.
  • Visit our booth at the Annual Meeting, send your colleagues over to meet us, and attend ACHP talks at the conference.
  • Send us your success stories of using ACHP’s in your work context or in your life.
  • Let us know how we can help you to integrate CAM into your curriculum, clinics, and community programs.

ACHP SPIG Program for the APHA 134th Annual Meeting and Exposition

Monday, Nov. 6

  • 10:30-11:30 POSTER SESSION - Alternative and Complementary Health Practice
  • 12:30-2:00 Alternative and Complementary Practices in HIV and Hepatitis
  • 2:30-4:00 Herbal and Dietary Health Practices
  • 4:30-6:00 Cancer: The Promise of Alternative and Complementary Health Practices
  • 6:30-9:00 Annual Business Meeting – JOIN US!

Tuesday, Nov. 7

  • 8:30-10:00 Alternative and Complementary Health Practices Around the World
  • 12:30-1:30 POSTER SESSION - Alternative and Complementary Health Practice
  • 2:30-4:00 Research on Spirit, Mind and Meditation

 Special thanks to abstract reviewers: Karlo Berger, Adam Burke, Anne Doherty-Gilman, Bennett Edwards, Thomas Findley, Rick Harvey, Kim Kelly, Ramona Rubin, Manoj Sharma, Diane Shumay, and Elizabeth Sommers.

Message from ACHP Student Representative

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be the 2006 student liasion for the ACHP SPIG. I am starting my second year as an MPH student at Indiana University-Bloomington. I am majoring in health behavior and health promotion, with a concentration in public health research. I previously spent three years working in tobacco control at the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency, overseeing 20 of its 92 local tobacco control coalitions.

However, my main professional interests have always been in holistic health, especially in the area of individuals' and groups' level of quality of life through their balance of physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and occupational health. I believe that only through this holistic perspective can public health professionals and public health interventions have a high level of impact on the public's health, beyond just focusing on disease and conditions. Thus, I am excited to assist the Alternative and Complementary Health Practices SPIG.

The 2005 APHA Annual Meeting actually was my first experience in being involved in APHA. I had previously been involved in SOPHE professional efforts and had attended conferences focused on tobacco and wellness issues. So I was excited to learn that APHA had a section devoted to holistic health and, in turn, attend the conference sessions on Alternative and Complementary Health. Those experiences inspired me to pursue how I could become involved in the ACHP SPIG as a graduate student; thus, I applied for the student liasion position.

As the Student Liasion, I hope to provide more communication to ACHP SPIG's student members, along with recruiting more members. The first step I have already taken is to send an "Student News" e-mail in April that provided APHA updates relevant to students, invitation for ideas and thoughts from student members, and new information in ACHP. I aim to send out a new "Student News" e-mail every other month, so please look for the next one in June.

If you did not receive the April "Student News" e-mail, know someone else who would like to receive the information, and/or have ideas on how student members of the ACHP SPIG can be better served, please feel free to e-mail me at I look forward to hearing your ideas and how I can be an effective student liasion to the ACHP SPIG!

Update – Public Health Acupuncture Resources Around the U.S.

Boston: Pathways to Wellness/AIDS Care Project
Specializing in accessible free or low-cost care for all individuals. Main clinic and satellite centers at Massachusetts General Hospital (Oncology Dept. and Infectious Disease Dept.) and Cambridge Hospital (Zinberg Clinic) as well as sites in Western Massachusetts and home visits. Web site:

New Orleans:
1) Common Ground Collective
Free clinic in the Algiers section of the city offers both conventional health care as well as holistic approaches such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine. Web site:

2) Acupuncturists Without Borders
Offers free acupuncture treatment to survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Web site:

Philadelphia: Walk-in acupuncture clinic. Web site:

Portland, Ore.:
1) Working Class Acupuncture
Provides sliding-scale treatment and training to acupuncturists interested in learning about the clinic’s practice style. Web site:

2) Outside In
Serves homeless youth and low-income adults. Web site:

Seattle: Kang Wen Clinic
Low-cost clinic specializing in care for people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious chronic conditions. Offers advanced training in treating individuals with cancer for acupuncturists with five years of clinical experience. Web site:

Works in Progress – Services Being Organized

Denver: Lynx Collaborative Care Network is organizing partnerships with community-based organizations. Sharon Feder. Web site: E-mail:

Providence, R.I.: Low-cost or free clinic. Cris Monteiro, DAc. E-mail:

Rock the Vote! (A reminder from APHA)

This year's Election Day (Nov. 7, 2006) falls during the APHA Annual Meeting in Boston. Make your voice heard in the ballot box by registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot before your state deadline! Click here for more information:

Update from Acupuncturists Without Borders: Not a Moment to Lose – AWB Returns to Louisiana

June 13, 2006. As I write this, AWB volunteers are preparing to return to New Orleans. The first tropical storm of 2006 has already come ashore, and Gulf Coast residents are staring down the barrel of another record-breaking hurricane season, according to government sources. Needless to say, with New Orleans still very much a disaster zone and needing decades of reconstruction work, people’s stress levels are higher than ever.

While ordinary stress can be effectively remedied through various measures such as rest, nutrition, leisure, etc., post-traumatic stress disorder -- now endemic in New Orleans -- represents a pathological break-down in the normal functioning of the human organism. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. (Source: National Center for PTSD/Dept. of Veterans Affairs). PTSD may induce a debilitating, sometimes lifelong change in brain chemistry that can include flashbacks, sleep disorders, panic attacks, violent outbursts, acute anxiety and emotional numbness.

When large numbers of people suffering from PTSD are not afforded opportunities for treatment, social disintegration and violence can be a common outcome. Given the tensions already existent in New Orleans before Katrina, such negative community-wide outcomes are a definite possibility if those needing treatment are not given options for therapeutic intervention.

TV talk show hostess Ellen DeGeneres did a special on Katrina, looking at how the area was recovering nine months after the devastation occurred. She asked her guest, Paul Simon, what was the most disturbing thing he saw on his recent visit to New Orleans. Paul replied, “the degree of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

AWB formed in the fall of 2005, in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Our teams first began offering ear acupuncture treatments in New Orleans in early October 2005. Over the following four months, nearly 40 licensed acupuncturists traveled to New Orleans, some multiple times, providing over 4,000 ear acupuncture treatments. The response was overwhelmingly positive. People receiving acupuncture began sleeping for the first time in months. Tears began to flow, and feelings of hope arose. In some communities receiving regular acupuncture, community leaders including clergy, Dept. of Health, FEMA and Red Cross officials, noted the profound positive effects the treatments were having, not just within individuals, but at the community level.

As word of AWB’s presence and acupuncture’s efficacy in treating stress spread rapidly on the streets, demand for our services quickly began to stretch our volunteer resources to their limit. In late February, we were forced to abruptly terminate our New Orleans operations due to the expiration of an emergency order by the Louisiana Governor. This had allowed out-of-state medical workers to practice in Louisiana without needing to comply with local licensing laws. Negotiations between AWB and the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners happily resulted in a compromise, and we were once again enthusiastically invited to return on June 1.

While the negotiations with the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners were in process, the AWB Board of Directors gathered for its first meeting in New York, formulating a preliminary mission and vision statement, and planning our second project – the Iraq Veterans Project. News of the daily atrocities our soldiers abroad are exposed to continuously unfolds in gory detail in the media. Meanwhile, the profound PTSD issues these individuals face is only beginning to receive widespread attention.

A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that 15.6 percent of Marines and 17.1 percent of soldiers surveyed after they returned from Iraq suffered major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. (Source: LA Times, op. cit.). More than 10,000 returnees from the Iraq war have sought help for PTSD. (BBC News, May 19, 2005). Suicide levels in the Army are at their highest levels ever. (AP, April, 21, 2006). AWB wants to offer acupuncture resources, setting up clinics with local acupuncturists around the country, bringing compassionate relief and effective medical care where it is so desperately needed.

AWB has set in motion an unprecedented cycle of healing and needs financial help to sustain these projects. Acupuncturists: Please consider joining our Summer Pledge drive. Benevolent citizens, please consider becoming a monthly supporter or making a one-time donation. Details on how to do this can be found on the AWB Web site:

Congratulations to Two ACHP Members

The Massage Therapy Association recently awarded its annual grants for community service to two of our SPIG members in Boston – Robert Saper and Beth Sommers.

Robert is a Family Medicine physician at Boston Medical Center; his group’s project will make massage available to individuals undergoing treatment for cancer. Since many of Boston Medical Center’s patients are uninsured and medically under-served, having body-work treatment represents an innovative adjunct to care that is generally unavailable.

Pathways to Wellness, where Beth is the research director, has teamed with a community health center to offer sports massage to Latina girls between the ages of 8 and 13 who are at risk of obesity and diabetes. Project Win Win Hands On! is an extension of a successful program offered by the health center for the past several year. Participants learn healthy eating habits, have cooking classes, and exercise together in an atmosphere designed to promote self-esteem.

Over 50 applicants from all over the United States participated in this year’s grant submission process; five projects were chosen to receive funding. For more information on the funding process and types of grants available, see the American Massage Therapy Association’s website:

Kundalini Yoga for Smoking Cessation

Yoga is an ancient system of physical and psychic practice that originated during the Indus Valley civilization in South Asia. The first codified record of this methodology appeared in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali around the 3rd or 4th Century BC. The system consists of an eight-fold path or asthangayoga. In contemporary literature, yoga has been defined in several ways and a more acceptable modern interpretation implies the systematic application of techniques to promote harmony in the human body, mind, and environment. The eight conventional steps of asthangayoga consist of yama (rules for living in society), niyama (self-restraining rules), asana (low physical impact postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), pratyahara (detachment of mind from the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation, and samadhi (union with super consciousness). Different schools of yoga utilize all or some of the above practice steps. One well-evolved school of yoga is Kundalini Yoga, or the system of primordial energy unification. The hallmark of this school is that it starts from the seventh step -- that of meditation (dhyana).

The benefits of yoga techniques have been tested as complementary treatment to aid healing of several ailments such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, depression, anxiety disorders, bronchial asthma, as well as other disorders that require extensive rehabilitation. Yoga techniques have been suggested for smoking cessation but have not yet been systematically tested. Smoking remains the most important preventable cause of death in the United States. Currently there are over 60 million smokers in our country that account for 438,000 premature deaths and 5.5 million years of potential life lost annually. The total economic costs of tobacco have been estimated to be well over $100 billion annually. Most smokers want to quit, have experimented with quitting or are planning to quit within the next year, but more than two-thirds fail in these attempts. Several pharmacological and behavioral therapies have been tested with varying rates of success for smoking cessation. A distinct advantage of the behavioral interventions over pharmacological interventions in facilitating smoking cessation is the lack of adverse side effects. However, there is a need to enhance the efficacy of behavioral interventions and, therefore, a need to utilize innovative approaches. A Kundalini Yoga based-intervention can serve as an important intervention in this area. Kundalini yoga’s emphasis on meditation is of particular benefit in combating the negative effects of emotional stress and enhancing coping among smokers while they make attempts to quit smoking and remaining in cessation.

A prototypical six week behavioral yoga intervention has been tested and found to modify yoga-related behaviors and has also been tested for smoking cessation. The specific yoga behaviors modified in this intervention are: (1) low physical impact postures (asana), (2) relaxation (shava asana), (3) breathing techniques (pranayama), and (4) meditation (dhyana). Each session typically consists of 30 minutes of asanas, 10 minutes of relaxation, 10 minutes of pranayama, and 10-15 minutes of meditation. Social cognitive theory is used to modify yoga behaviors by using the construct of expectations whereby the participants are provided information about benefits of yoga and they are also given time to internalize those benefits. The construct of self efficacy is modified by teaching the participants each technique in small steps, role modeling, giving verbal persuasion, and ensuring mastery. Self control is modified by allowing participants to set goals. Likewise for quitting smoking, the benefits of quitting (expectations), the need and ways to replace smoking with yoga (self-efficacy), and setting goals to reduce and quit (self control) are used in the intervention.

Results of the pilot testing of this intervention will be presented at 134th APHA Annual Meeting in Session 4085. For references or other information contact:
Manoj. Sharma, MBBS, CHES, PhD
Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Education
University of Cincinnati
526 Teachers College
PO Box 210002
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0002
(513) 556-3878 (Phone)
(513) 556-3898 (Fax) (E-mail)