Evaluating Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They will collaborate with a new Centre for Integrative Medicine (CIM) run by Lynda Balneaves.
It's not clear what form of "Complementary Medicine" (i.e. non-evidence based medicine) she (Lynda Balneaves) supports but it seems to include "natural health products (e.g., vitamins and herbal therapies), manipulative physical treatments (e.g., massage), and mindbody therapies (e.g., meditation)" [CAMEO]. Other websites mention acupuncture.1
"Alternative Medicine" is also another word for medical care that has not been proven effective by standard clinical trials. Otherwise it wouldn't be "alternative." What this means is that the Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy have abandoned the ideal of evidenced-based medicine.2 You may want to take that into account next time you are choosing a physician.
Here's the announcment by Dean Whiteside ...
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is widespread, but not very well understood. According to one study, almost three-quarters of Canadians — 74 per cent — have used some form of CAM in their lifetime. This can include chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, herbal remedies, or traditional Chinese medicine. Patients often opt to use these therapies without consulting a conventional medical professional and without understanding how these CAM therapies might interact with other drugs or therapies they may be using. Both patients and health care providers require better information so they can make informed choices about CAM therapies. Research in CAM to provide evidence for best practice is necessary.
This is why a new academic partnership has formed among our Faculty of Medicine, the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and The Scarborough Hospital — a long time community-affiliate of the University of Toronto. The Centre for Integrative Medicine (CIM) will focus on CAM research and education. This will be achieved through an interprofessional approach — led by the Centre’s Director, Professor Lynda Balneaves — that brings together scientists, physicians, pharmacists, nurses, CAM practitioners and others who work in the health care field. Our Faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine will support the scientific research that will ground the Centre’s evidence-based approach, while a Clinical Hub will be established at The Scarborough Hospital’s Birchmount campus to help patients manage their day-to-day health. The result will be a living laboratory that allows us to study ways to safely and effectively integrate evidence-informed CAM therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine, with conventional medical care.
On September 29, our Faculty Council approved CIM’s creation as an EDU-C and on October 17, we will celebrate the official launch of the Centre. Professor Balneaves, working with colleagues across U of T and The Scarborough Hospital, has already been overseeing the first phase of the Centre’s launch, which is focused on consulting and identifying the needs of the community. She is also laying strong foundations for the effective clinical care and research to follow. By spring 2015, the Centre will launch a series of pilot projects designed to address the clinical needs of the TSH community integrated with education and applied clinical research, and it will be ready to announce long-term plans.
CIM is another example of how we are working closely with our colleagues at U of T and throughout our expanded network of affiliated hospitals to address important health challenges and opportunities. It also strengthens our academic partnership with The Scarborough Hospital to ensure we help support their vision of providing the best health care for a global community.
Many people have supported the Centre, but KY and Betty Ho have been particularly engaged. They have endowed a chair — to be known as the KY and Betty Ho Chair in Integrative Medicine — held by the Centre Director. Their generosity and leadership in supporting this Centre has been catalytic and greatly appreciated.
We could not hope to have a more distinguished leader than Professor Balneaves. She joins us from the University of British Columbia, where she has led a UBC-BC Cancer Agency initiative called the Complementary Medicine Education and Outcomes (CAMEO) Research Program, which provides evidence-based education and decision support for cancer patients and cancer health professionals. She has been investigating complementary and alternative medicine for 20 years, and her groundbreaking work has been frequently cited in media across Canada. I am very proud that the Centre is starting out in the capable hands of such a talented research leader.
Dean, Faculty of Medicine
UPDATE: A little birdie reminds me that if you want to understand how institutions work you should remember the old adage, "follow the money." There might be some very wealthy people who would like to promote Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. I wonder who they might be?
1. She supports medical marijuana but that's not "complimentary medicine" or "alternative medicine."
2. Of course that's not how the university spins it. They claim that the collaboration will investigate whether these alternative medicines are effective. I wonder how long it will take to discover that most of them don't work? Don't we know that already? Isn't that why they're called CAM?