December 27, 2012
Is Sugar the Next Tobacco?
Among the least likely viral megahits on YouTube is a 90-minute lecture by the food scold and pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” He delivers it in a windowless room at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. The talk is simultaneously boring and powerful, combining the gravitas of a national health crisis, the thrill of conspiracy theory, and the tedium of PowerPoint slides. Midway through the talk he scans the hall for approval. “Am I debunking?” Read more.
December 26, 2012
Our Ten Favorite Books of 2012
Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, by Nancy Bardacke
Greater Good Science Center Website
Nancy Bardacke, a Berkeley midwife, has worked with pregnant women for decades, helping them prepare for the difficulties of childbirth. Inspired by the teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn—the researcher who developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a secularized version of Buddhist mindfulness meditation that has helped thousands of medical patients decrease their pain and suffering from illness—Bardacke created a mindfulness-based birthing and parenting curriculum, which she has now taught for the last 14 years. Offered through the University of San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, her program has been studied and found to be effective at reducing stress, anxiety, and depression in pregnant women. Read more.
December 4, 2012
The Huffington Post
…In our culture, where illness is so often stigmatized, it should not be surprising that many people who receive serious diagnoses have trouble accepting it or accepting themselves with a disease. Many, however, pivot from the grief, incorporate the illness into their sense of self, and emerge empowered with a richer understanding of themselves and their place in the world. Though this process is rarely discussed, it has everything to do with a person’s experience, identity, and efficacy in the context of disease. In an empirical study, Dr. Judith Moskowitz at University of California San Francisco, for example, has indicated that positive affect not only lowers the risk of AIDS mortality, but also improves people’s ability to cope with the disease and move on with their lives. Read more.
Food Fixes to Ease Symptoms by Sanford Newmark, MD
ADDitude Magazine [This article is no longer available online.]
When parents think of alternative approaches to managing ADHD — beyond taking medication — they may think of behavioral interventions, taking fish oil or vitamins. Sometimes, though, changing a child’s diet by detecting food sensitivity and eliminating the offending food can significantly improve ADHD symptoms.
The POZ 100 Accelerating the End of AIDS
Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, hopes for a cure have been raised and dashed, leading many to wonder if it could ever become a reality. But things have changed—radically. For starters, one person has already been cured of HIV.
Most likely it won’t be a single person—or a single research team or institution—to discover the cure for HIV. Just like it was with AIDS treatment research, it will be a massive endeavor requiring monumental collaborative work between test tube and animal scientists, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, government and nongovernmental organizations, clinical trial experts and, of course, study volunteers. Read more, including Rick Hecht’s award.
October 12, 2012
The Anti-Cancer Diet: An Interview with Donald Abrams, MD
“You become what you eat . . .” and no one sees that result more closely and intimately than oncologists (cancer specialists) trying to save a patient’s life. Little wonder that surgeons are often vegans, vegetarians, or at least super-averse to red-meat and animal fats, much like guest integrative cancer specialist Dr. Donald Abrams, who says that some 30 percent of preventable cancers may be attributed to what we eat and what we don’t eat, a proportion equivalent to those caused by tobacco use. Listen.
October 12, 2012
Fighting Cancer in Your Kitchen: An Interview with Donald Abrams, MD
“An apple a day keeps the . . . “ You know the rest of that sentence . . . or do you? Integrative cancer specialist Dr. Donald Abrams speaks to cancer survivors in “Fighting Cancer In The Kitchen,” saying that “After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.” Hear more.
October 10, 2012
Shape Your Body… With Your Mind?
Huffington Post Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)
Buddhist Megumi Okumura learned to meditate as a child, but the 38-year-old physician never connected meditation with her waistline until she heard about an intriguing study at the hospital where she worked: Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, were examining the link between mindfulness and abdominal fat (the most dangerous kind) in overweight and obese women. Okumura, who was still carrying the 30 pounds she’d gained during her medical training, signed up.
At the end of the four-month study, she had lost 14 ounces of belly fat. Within a year, she’d shed 25 pounds and two inches from her waist — all without a single day of dieting. Instead, she says, “I changed how I thought about eating.
Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, lead author of the study (which was published in the Journal of Obesity), says the idea was to help participants “tune in to physical sensations of hunger, fullness, and taste satisfaction, and to eat based on that awareness,” rather than on stress. Subjects attended a series of classes in mindfulness practices, where they learned to recognize negative feelings (like anger and anxiety) and resist the urge to seek comfort in food. Read more.
September 25, 2012
Interview with Nancy Bardacke, CNM, MA, Author of Mindful Birthing
International Childbirth Education Association blog [This article is no longer available online.]
Q: You are a CNM. How long have you been practicing and how did you become interested in mindfulness?
A: I began practicing as a CNM in 1982, so that’s 30 years now. But I like to say that I’ve been paying attention to the birth process for about 45 years, since that’s how long ago I was pregnant with my first son and was sitting in a childbirth preparation course in a woman’s home in the Berkeley Hills. In those days it was a pretty radical thing to do, to become educated about childbirth-there weren’t any classes being taught in hospitals or community settings. I was just so incredibly amazed and moved by what this woman was teaching us about our bodies and the birth process; I thought what a beautiful service this woman is doing. The classes were called psychoprophylaxis for pregnancy-which is what we now know as Lamaze.
September 21, 2012
Are Drugs Essential to our Health?
In a recent Wall Street Journal debate, Dr. Sanford Newmark, head of the pediatric integrative neurodevelopmental program at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and author of ADHD Without Drugs – A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD, and Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute, offered up widely different answers to the question, Are ADHD Medications Overprescribed? … Although this conversation focused on the use of drugs to treat ADHD, the same question could have been posed in relation to just about any disease. Read more.
September 14, 2012
Are ADHD Medications Overprescribed?
Wall Street Journal
In recent years, the number of children in the U.S. being treated with prescription medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has grown dramatically. That trend has led to concern among some doctors, parents and child advocates that many children are taking ADHD medication unnecessarily.
…Sanford Newmark, head of the pediatric integrative neurodevelopmental program at the University of California, San Francisco, makes the case that ADHD drugs are overprescribed. Harold S. Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute in New York, argues that the notions of overdiagnosis and overuse of ADHD drugs aren’t based in fact. Read more.
September 10, 2012
Acupuncture Pain Relief is Real, Researchers Say
“These effects may be real relief,” says Rick Hecht, MD, research director at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “There may be active ingredients that are still there even though the needles are not going into specific points and specific depths. What is doing it, you can’t tell, though other research is being done to break down the issue.” Read more.
September 7, 2012
Interns Learn to EXCEL in Health Care Jobs
UCSF News Center
The value of the program also extends to supervisors and trainers. Not only is having diversity of life experience an asset in patient care, but having the interns in the office kept the staff on its toes, said Diane Sabin, administrative director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, which hosted four EXCEL interns this summer.
“They say the best way to learn is to teach, so it reinforced our own staff and practitioners’ knowledge base – just to go through some of these essential, core matters that sometimes disappear because they’re so much in the fabric of what should be happening,” she said. Read more.
“Our integrative medicine center works hand in glove with the conventional medicine. We do get concerned if there is something people should avail themselves of, and we do send patients back to get surgery and medicines,” says Margaret Chesney, director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UC San Francisco.
“Few people use only alternative medicine. What they are doing is supplementing their usual, conventional care by adding things from complementary medicine, like dietary supplements, acupuncture, deep breathing and meditation or mind-body management.” Chesney, a former acting director of NCCAM, says holistic medicine’s rising popularity has paralleled a growing body of scientific evidence that supports its effectiveness. Read more.
August 1, 2012
Doctor uses imaging to learn about PTSD
San Francisco Chronicle
Improvements in imaging technologies have allowed doctors to peer into the brain to begin to get a picture of the causes behind such disorders as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Psychiatrists like Thomas Neylan, director of the PTSD program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry at UCSF, hope it’s just a matter of time before such technologies also provide a glimpse into the biological underpinnings behind such conditions as sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Sleep disturbances, PTSD and other behavioral problems are common among veterans and have a direct impact on the health of the body and, specifically, the brain. Read more.
July 18, 2012
Stress: Building a Better Mouse House
San Francisco Chronicle
In the pursuit to understand the underpinnings of stress, UCSF is giving some mice the luxury suite; others, more humble surroundings.
The result is a new “calm mouse model” researchers at UCSF unveiled in the July 6 issue of Molecular Medicine. The model could be used to study how low-stress environments alter hormone levels and potentially affect the immune system. Read more.
July 10, 2012
‘Mindful Birthing,’ Certified Nurse-Midwife Brings Mindfulness Techniques to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting
SFGate.com [This article is no longer available online.]
Pregnancy and childbirth can be among the most challenging experiences in a woman’s life. Questions, fears, cultural traditions, philosophical debates, and widely varying medical perspectives can overwhelm and contribute to stress and fear for any expectant mother. Now, a new way exists to guide pregnant women and their partners in a middle path approach that equips expectant families with the skills to effectively reduce the stress, fear, and pain frequently associated with pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
With nearly four decades of midwifery experience, Nancy Bardacke, CNM, MA, is an assistant clinical professor in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the founding director of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Program, the first of its kind, which she leads at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the UCSF Medical Center. In her classes and now in her groundbreaking book, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond (HarperOne; July 2012; Trade Paperback Original) with a foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, Bardacke teaches parents-to-be to apply the power of mindfulness to pregnancy, birth and raising a child.
July 6, 2012
Changing Environment Affects Stress Level in Mice
UCSF News Center
The negative impact of stress on health is widely documented. So is the importance of reducing stress in one’s life. But a new animal study is the first to model stress reduction and its biological effects in rodents as they are placed in various caging environments, according to a recent study led by UCSF researchers.
An international team from the United States, France, Germany and Austria conducted a study on 40 male mice from February to July 2011. The research, published in April as the cover story of Molecular Medicine, focused on four specific environments that varied in size, comfort and the ability of the mice to exercise. Read more.
June 28, 2012
Better Breathing Can Mean Better Health
San Jose Mercury News
Breathing is one of the body’s fundamental functions, yet most of us give it no more attention than we give the national product of Lichtenstein. We go about our day – doing routine tasks, making phone calls, handling problems, walking the dog – and unless we overexert ourselves or have an asthma attack, we don’t have to think about breathing one little bit. It just happens.
“It is the first thing we do,” says Dr. Margaret Chesney, a breathing researcher at UC San Francisco, “and it is the last thing we do. It’s really important, but we take it for granted.” Read more.
June 26, 2012
Finding a Sustainable Running Stride
New York Times Health & Science Well
Dr. Rick Hecht, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, is a distance runner who was intrigued by the promise of a more relaxed running form. “I could do my long runs, but I would feel pretty beat up afterward, sore in my muscles; my joints would feel really stressed,” he said.
Then he read a Chi Running book and took a clinic, and he says running is no longer painful. “I feel like I could do the same kinds of distances I was doing before, and I don’t feel beat up in the same way,” he told me. “It feels much better running, particularly long distances.”
Dr. Hecht said his personal experience sparked an interest in a scientific study of the method. He is in the midst of a diet and fitness study of about 200 people that includes Chi Walking. A pilot study to see whether Chi Running has benefits for blood pressure will also include a number of analyses, including a measure of foot-strike forces. Read more.
May 16, 2012
One of the things I like about my job is that I can do things like watch iTunesU…and claim it’s work. While doing that recently I came across a lecture by Dr Margaret Chesney of the UCSF Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine. It’s a long (nearly 90 minutes long) lecture, but the contents are great if you’re trying to find tools for coping and dealing the crud life throws at you. So I’ve put together a summary in this piece.
There’s a lot in common with the work of people like Professor Martin Seligman’s work on confidence and happiness (and so on), but there’s a new twist to it too — which is covered a lot more in the video than in this summary. In short…it’s based on the acronym BREATHE. Read more.
The Serenity Diet: Can You Change Your Body Shape with Your Mind?
Buddhist Megumi Okumura learned to meditate as a child, but the 38-year-old physician never connected meditation with her waistline until she heard about an intriguing study at the hospital where she worked: Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, were examining the link between mindfulness and abdominal fat (the most dangerous kind) in overweight and obese women. Okumura, who was still carrying the 30 pounds she’d gained during her medical training, signed up. Read more.
Yoga Breathing May Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects
Yoga breathing techniques may improve quality of life and reduce chemotherapy side effects for cancer patients, according to a new study. Yoga has been described as “the union of mind, body, and spirit,” which addresses physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions towards an overall harmonious state of being. The philosophy of yoga is sometimes pictured as a tree with eight branches. These eight limbs are: pranayama (breathing exercises), asana (physical postures), yama (moral behavior), niyama (healthy habit), dharana (concentration), prathyahara (sense withdrawal), dhyana (contemplation) and samadhi (higher consciousness). Read more.
March 30, 2012
Autism Rates on the Rise
KQED Forum interview with Sanford Newmark, MD
One in 88 U.S. children has been diagnosed with autism or a related disorder, according to new federal data. The rate has increased by more than 20 percent between 2006 and 2008, due in part to wider awareness and better screening. We look at the new numbers, and discuss the latest research on risk factors and causes. Listen to the interview.
March 29, 2012
KCBS Radio Interview with Dr. Sanford Newmark [no longer archived online]
Integrative pediatrician Sanford Newmark, MD, was interviewed on KCBS radio station. He spoke about the CDC’s new report on the 78% increase in children diagnosed with autism over the past decade. Dr. Newmark runs the Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics practice at the Osher Center, for children with autism, ADHD and related conditions, and has authored the book “ADHD Without Drugs: A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD.”
March 26, 2012
Integrative Medicine Classes Help Breast Cancer Survivors Recover
UCSF News Center
Breast cancer survivor Helen Robillard closes her eyes as she gently rotates her arms clockwise. Her movements are measured and deliberate; her breathing slow and purposeful. She studies qigong (pronounced “chee-gung”), an ancient Chinese practice of aligning breath, movement and awareness for healing and exercise, including through this class at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “It’s a very relaxing class, so you really learn to slow down,” Robillard says during a break. “It allows me to focus on my movements, where my hands are, where my feet are and it’s stress reduction.” Read more.
March 20, 2012
Complementary Medicine for Low Back Pain: Who, What, and How
Podcast with Dr. Wolf Mehling
In most cases of low back pain, surgery is not a helpful intervention, according to the best evidence. Appropriate use of painkillers is a complicated issue. For this difficult problem, alternative therapies such as massage and spinal manipulation may be an attractive option. For guidance on when and how to consider integrative approaches to low back pain, Musculoskeletal Network turned to Wolf Mehling, MD, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of California San Francisco, who gave a presentation on this topic at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Listen to podcast.
January 9, 2012
Dietary Factors and ADHD
Sandy Newmark, M.D., is the head of the Pediatric Integrative Neurodevelopmental Program at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, specializing in the treatment of Autism, ADHD and other developmental or chronic childhood conditions. Read more.
Mindfulness Matters: Can Living in the Moment Improve Your Health?
NIH News in Health
At some point in your life, someone probably told you: “Enjoy every moment. Life is short.” Maybe you’ve smiled and rolled your eyes at this well-intentioned relative or co-worker. But the fact is, there’s something to it. Trying to enjoy each moment may actually be good for your health. Read more.