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Acupuncture Today
September, 2006, Vol. 07, Issue 09
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Oriental Medicine Makes a Splash at the North American Research Conference

By Michael Devitt

The Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, recently played host to the first North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Sponsored by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, the conference was designed to promote educational collaboration across the spectrum of health disciplines, and featured presentations from some of the world's leading researchers and health care providers on a variety of complementary and integrative approaches to care.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine was arguably the most well-represented profession at the meeting, with more than 60 workshops and poster presentations that examined the use of AOM for particular conditions and the role of acupuncturists and traditional Chinese medicine providers in various health settings.

Among the topics discussed at the conference were those related to the quality of acupuncture research. Dr. Helene Langevin, a University of Vermont scientist who has conducted various studies into the biological mechanisms of acupuncture needle insertion, chaired a discussion of this subject, titled "Controversies in Acupuncture Research: Selection of Controls and Outcome Measures in Acupuncture Clinical Trials." She was joined in the discussion by several experts in the field of Oriental medicine, including Lixing Lao, MD, PhD, LAc, of the University of Maryland; Rosa Schnyer, LAc, of the Osher Institute and Harvard Medical School; Karen Sherman, PhD, MPH, from the Group Health Cooperative; and Richard Hammerschlag, PhD, from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.

Other workshops covered therapies that are critical components of traditional Chinese medicine. Dr. Steven Aung presented a one-hour experiential qigong session; an identical qigong session was presented by Dr. Aung the next day. Dr. Hammerschlag and Dr. Brian Berman presented an oral abstract, "Acupuncture: Mechanisms and Efficacy." Dr. Berman also hosted a plenary session titled "Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis: Trials and Tribulations," in which he discussed the results of previous studies that have investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating osteoarthritis of the knee.

A group of nine researchers, including five medical doctors, moderated a two-hour scientific session, "Research Methodology in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Challenges and Solutions," which was co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute for Chinese Medicinal Research. Later that day, Drs. Langevin and Lao moderated a second oral abstract session, "Acupuncture: Mechanisms of Action." In the final presentation on acupuncture and Oriental medicine, Drs. Gloria Yeh, Yang Yang and Peter Wayne moderated a 90-minute workshop, "Traditional Tai Chi and Qigong in Healing: Mind-Body Research and Application."

In addition to the oral abstracts and workshops, researchers presented dozens of posters and abstracts on acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbal remedies. Of the 243 poster presentations delivered during the conference, more than one-fourth of the presentations (61) were related in some way to the practice of AOM, including:

  • 26 presentations on acupuncture;
  • 25 presentations on herbal medicine;
  • five presentations on traditional Chinese medicine;
  • four presentations on tai chi and/or qigong; and
  • one presentation on acupressure.

The North American Research Conference on Complementary & Integrative Medicine marked the first time that all consortium centers and other leading national and international CAM networks and organizations had been invited to come together to meet and share their research findings in a single location. The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine was established in 2002, and consists of 32 schools of medicine in the United States and Canada. Its mission, according to a statement on the consortium's Web site, is "to help transform medicine and health care through rigorous scientific studies, new models of clinical care, and innovative educational programs that integrate biomedicine, the complexity of human beings, the intrinsic nature of healing and the rich diversity of therapeutic systems."

For more information on the consortium, including a list of all of the presentations delivered at the conference and the dates of future research conferences, visit


  1. First global integrative medicine conference in North America, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Medical News Today (online news site) press release.
  2. Studies draw attention to nutraceuticals at Canadian medical conference. Nutra Ingredients press release.


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