2015 Press

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December 2015
Runner’s World: Run to Lose: A Complete Guide to Weight Loss for Runners
Chapter 29: How Stress Impacts Your Weight and Your Running Life

Our Director of Research, Rick Hecht, MD is interviewed in this book about his research published in the October 2011 edition of the Journal of Obesity, which found that “increasing mindfulness and responsiveness to bodily sensations reduced anxiety, eating in response to external food cues, and emotional eating…” Read the research.

December 18, 2015
Bay Area Top Doctors 2016
San Francisco Magazine

Our integrative oncologist, Donald Abrams, MD and our integrative pediatrician, David Becker, MD made the lists for Medical Oncology and Pediatrics, respectively. See the list.

December 17, 2015
A Compassionate Approach Leads to More Help and Less Punishment
Center for Healthy Minds

Seeing a child steal a toy from a fellow playmate. Watching a stranger cut in line at the grocery store. When we witness something unjust, our emotions often shape our behavior both toward the person wronged and the wrongdoer. Read more.

December 15, 2015
What is ADD/ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and difficulties with focus or attention. Although many people may have these traits to some degree, in order to diagnose ADHD a child (or adult) should have symptoms severe enough to cause an impact in two separate areas of life. For children, this is usually home and school; for adults, it’s home and work. Read more (8-segment article).

December 9, 2015
Many Hospitalized Oncology Patients Would Like Complementary Health Treatments

Many Americans use complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches to help them manage the symptoms of chronic diseases. To date, most of these treatments are only available in outpatient clinics. In this study, we asked oncology inpatients which of 12 different CIH approaches they currently use or have tried in the past, and also which approaches they would like to be available in the hospital. We found that 95% of patients had tried at least one complementary and integrative health approach in the past, and that a similarly high number were interested in accessing these services as an inpatient. More than three quarters of our sample expressed interest in receiving nutritional counseling and massage during their hospital stay, and approximately half were interested in acupuncture, biofeedback, and mindfulness meditation. Read more.

November 28, 2015
Working out’ PTSD – exercise is a vital part of treatment

In 1954, the first director-general of the World Health Organisation, Dr Brock Chisholm, famously stated: “Without mental health there can be no true physical health.”

More than half a century later, we have large numbers of studies backing up his belief. Surprisingly, given the known effectiveness of exercise as an additional part of treatment for depression, there have been few studies investigating the use of exercise in the treatment of people with severe PTSD. Read more.

November 20, 2015
Excel prepares low-income S.F. residents for health care jobs
San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate.com

Her voice shaking, the young woman at the podium introduced herself in English and Navajo. “Hi, my name is Ashley Tapaha. I’m so nervous right now.” Read more.

November, 2015
Medicine-Free Management of Type-2 Diabetes
The Costco Connection

Mark Rush’s primary care provider was stunned. A newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes patient, Rush had lost his extra weight, and his blood tests were remarkably improved. “Just keep up with the meds; you’re doing fine,” the doctor said. “I’m not using the meds,” Rush answered. “I’m exercising and controlling my diet.” Read more.

October 26, 2015
Global health group links processed, red meats to cancer risk
San Francisco Chronicle

Unlike many Americans, local health experts were happy to see the World Health Organization report Monday stating that bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats and probably red meat cause cancer. It’s something the local health experts say has been known for years. “I can’t explain to you why it has taken so long for the World Health Organization to catch up,” said Donald Abrams, a professor of medicine at UCSF and chief of hematology-oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. “But I’m glad this is making news. It is something that many people have known for a long time.” Read more.

October 7, 2015
How to Game Your Hormones
Men’s Journal

We know that when we feel overwhelmed, cortisol levels spike. The best way to circumvent that? Embrace, even welcome, stress.

“Hormones almost always respond to mindset,” says Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal: “Change your mindset and you may alter a cascade of physiological changes.” Rick Hecht, research director of UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, says that while there’s no magic formula, some basic techniques can help. Read more.

September 4, 2015
Between Qi and the RCT: Lessons on the Road to Certification of Licensed Acupuncturists at San Francisco General Hospital
The Integrator Blog by John Weeks

The business of credentialing a licensed acupuncturist for practice in a hospital or health system can seem like a slam dunk. After all, one can quickly establish through third party verification whether the applicant has: graduated from an academic program with status from a US Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency; passed relevant licensing or certification tests; holds a license in the appropriate jurisdiction; carries malpractice coverage; and has practice experience. The same quintet of basic requirements can also be easily assessed for massage therapists, and doctors of chiropractic and naturopathic medicine. Read more.

July 28, 2015
Top Cancer Doctors
Newsweek Special Heath Issue: Curing Cancer

Osher Center integrative oncologist Dr. Donald Abrams has been named a Top Cancer Doctor in Newsweek‘s Special Health Issue on Curing Cancer, in the category of Medical Oncology.

Newsweek gives these awards in conjunction with Castle Connolly Medical LTD, the well-respected publisher of America’s Top Doctors. Each year, Castle Connolly receives nearly 100,000 peer nominations, and carefully reviews the nominees’ credentials by talking with leading specialists, chairs of clinical departments and vice presidents of medical affairs. We are proud of Dr. Abrams’ inclusion in this list, as a result of his tireless dedication to his patients at both the Osher Center and San Francisco General Hospital.

July 28, 2015
A True ADHD Epidemic or an Epidemic of Overdiagnosis? by Dr. Sanford Newmark
Psychiatry Advisor

In 2011, the CDC reported that the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children ages 4 to 17 years was 11%, with 6.4 million children diagnosed with ADHD and 4.2 million taking psychostimulants.

These findings represent a dramatic increase from more than 30 years ago, when the rate of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was estimated at between 3% and 5%. What is more concerning is that the prevalence of ADHD increased by about 35% just from 2003 to 2011, and there is no indication that this increase leveling out. More than 20% of high school-aged boys have been told they have ADHD! Read more.

July 28, 2015
Hospitals, care centers employ laughter as treatment for health problems

Laughter is a bright part of any day, and now hospitals and health organizations are making efforts to incorporate it into their patients’ care for proven health boosts.

Research has shown that the smile that creeps up and explodes into uncontrollable laughter has multiple health benefits, such as relieving stress and pain, boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure, elevating mood and stimulating the mind, according to The Huffington Post. Read more.

July 5, 2015
Map of Emotions and Meditation on Compassion
HH The Dalai Lama’s Website

The sky was overcast this morning, but inside a warm reunion took place between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his old friend Paul Ekman. Accompanied by his daughter Eve Ekman, his wife Mary Ann Mason and Eric Rodenback, Ekman had come to report progress that has been made in creating a Map of Emotions. His Holiness opened the conversation:

“Our focus should be all 7 billion human beings alive today, every one of whom wants to lead a happy life. We are trying to let them know that happiness is not entirely dependent on money and material things, but on inner values like compassion, without having to rely on religious belief. We are trying to adopt a secular approach that can reach all human beings.” Read more.

July 2015
Mindful Birthing
Pregnancy & Newborn magazine

Walking outside on a warm spring day, my insides constricted and pain radiated across my lower back. I closed my eyes and focused on the humid air as it made its way through my nostrils to the walls of my expanding rib-cage. I felt the sun heating my face and the breeze on my skin. I noted birds chirping, then a car purring by. I was using mindfulness meditation to help me through my labor and delivery without pain medication.

During pregnancy, I searched for a method that would help me achieve the unmedicated birth I wanted. I wasn’t convinced that contractions are merely “surges” of energy, or that the ancient wisdom of my body would allow me to experience euphoria instead of pain. I didn’t trust I could imagine myself on a beach while my insides tightened with overwhelming force. I wanted a way to deal with the reality of childbirth, and Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke, CNM, founding director of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) Program, was my answer. Read more.

June 3, 2015
Get the giggles often? It may be in your DNA
UC News

Researchers at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University have found that a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin makes some of us more prone to spontaneous smiles and bursts of laughter, according to their study just published in the journal Emotion. Specifically, researchers looked at two versions of the gene variant known as 5-HTTLPR, and found that people with the short version were more likely to smile and laugh while looking at Far Side and New Yorker cartoons and humorous clips from the movie “Strangers in Paradise.” Read more.

June 2, 2015
Beyond Elm Street: The Vivid Nighttime Horrors of Sleep Paralysis

…That’s not to say Ascher didn’t do his homework. One resource he says he consulted was the book Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection by Shelley Adler. “I’m endlessly fascinated by it,” says Adler, the author, who has studied sleep paralysis for more than 20 years. Put simply, she says, sleep paralysis is “being asleep and being awake” at the same time. During the dream phase, a person’s body shuts down the muscles so that the person doesn’t act out the dream. But during sleep paralysis, she says, “we become aware of the fact that we’re paralyzed…. All the sudden there’s a consciousness of what’s happening.” Read more.

June 1, 2015
Can We Conquer Cancer?
RBB-TV, Germany  [Note: no longer online]

Osher Center integrative oncologist Donald Abrams, MD is one of several cancer experts from Germany and the United States interviewed in the new German documentary “Can We Conquer Cancer?” Other UCSF doctors interviewed in the documentary include Dr. Pamela Munster, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Peter Carroll, and Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone.

June 1, 2015
Quick To Laugh Or Smile? It May Be In Your Genes
Northwestern University News

Why do some people immediately burst into laughter after a humorous moment, while others can barely crack a smile? New research examining emotional reactivity suggests one of the answers may lie in a person’s DNA. In a new study linking a gene to positive emotional expressions such as smiling and laughing, researchers demonstrated that people with a certain genetic variant — those with short alleles of the gene 5-HTTLPR — smiled or laughed more while watching cartoons or subtly amusing film clips than people with long alleles. Read more. Our researcher, Laura Saslow, PhD, was on this research team.

June 2015
Mindfulness Research Monthly

Eating is often an enjoyable experience, and at times, we eat more for pleasure (“hedonic eating”) than to provide nutrition or reduce hunger. Since pleasure occurs in response to the brain’s release of endogenous opioids (morphine-like neurotransmitters manufactured in the brain), the opioid system plays an important role in hedonic eating. This activity can be measured indirectly by administering naltrexone, an opioid-blocking drug that triggers cortisol secretion and sensations of nausea. Prior research has shown that overweight women with larger cortisol or nausea responses to naltrexone are more prone to binge and emotional eating and less likely to gain weight during a mindfulness-based overeating intervention Mason et al. sought to replicate and extend these findings in a large-scale randomized, controlled study of weight-loss programs with and without a mindfulness component. Read more.

May 27, 2015
Why Treat ADHD Without Medication? by Dr. Sanford Newmark
Psychiatry Advisor

I have spent the last 15 years of my medical career treating children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using an integrative approach, with medication as a last, rather than a first, option.

Although many families and a few physicians see that as a rather rational approach, believing that it is usually best to avoid using long-term psychotropic medications, others might disagree. Read more.

May 26, 2015
After Orexigen Gaffe, What Role for Drugs Amid Obesity Crisis?

…Now both Orexigen and Contrave are under a dark cloud. After four years of regulatory pinball, the FDA approved the drug in September 2014 under special conditions. Among other things, Orexigen has to keep testing it for long-term cardiovascular side effects. It’s that work that has the company in hot water.

“It’s the latest in a series of—I won’t exactly say ‘failures’—but certainly problems coming up with drugs to treat obesity,” says Rick Hecht, director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Read more.

May 20, 2015
The Impact of Intramural Grants on Educators’ Careers and on Medical Education Innovation
The Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators

Shelley Adler and her team recently published a study in Academic Medicine on the outcomes of the Innovations Funding program. If you have ever received an AME Innovations Funding (IF) grant, you may intuitively know that the grant provides new opportunities for knowledge, networking, national recognition for faculty and mentees, and creating a legacy. But, what impact did the study actually find? Read more.

May 5, 2015
Integrative Medicine Empowering Patients
One Healthcare Worldwide

Integrative medicine combines modern medicine with established approaches from around the world. By joining modern medicine with proven practices from other healing traditions, integrative practitioners are better able to relieve suffering, reduce stress, maintain the well-being, and enhance the resilience of their patients. Integrative therapies have been found to relieve pain and anxiety in cancer patients, to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans, and to hold promise in preventing and treating heart disease. Now, some promising new research suggests that an integrative medicine approach may be effective in treating chronic pain, stress and depression — and in helping people feel empowered to take charge of their health. Read more.

May 5, 2015
Breathing your way to better blood pressure
KALW The Spiritual Edge

Hypertension. Sixty-seven million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition, more commonly known as high blood pressure. Before they hit age 50, hypertension is less common in women than in men. The female hormone estrogen likely serves as a kind of protection. But after 50, women’s rates of hypertension go up. That increases the risk of heart disease. And heart disease kills more women than anything else. Read more and listen.

May 5, 2015
Menopause: What it Means and What Comes After
KALW Crosscurrents

Radio piece with interviews by Dr. Margaret Chesney and Dr. Priscilla Abercrombie. Listen.

April 22, 2015
Food Therapy: The Right Diet for ADHD Symptoms, by Sanford Newmark, MD
ADDitude Magazine

The best foods for children who have ADHD are the same as those for children who don’t have the condition. All children need lots of healthy unprocessed food and generous amounts of fruits and vegetables.

The right diet — and good nutrition — is especially important for anyone with ADHD. Many children can eat a relatively poor diet and function pretty well at school and at home, at least in the short term. ADHD kids can’t. Read more.

April 22, 2015
Freya Magnusson: Championing Integrative Medicine
UCSF News Center

…As a Hospital Secretary in the Pediatric ICU at UCSF and a student of natural medicine, Freya applauds the efforts of UCSF to integrate natural medicine as a complementary approach to total wellness, at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, the Pediatric ICU and other inpatient settings. As she helps providers with their work, she gives thanks for “your open-mindedness, your insatiable curiosity, and constant inspiration” as she sees progress made with her patients – and herself – each and every day.  Read more.

March 25, 2015
The Baby Blues: Motherhood’s Scarlet Letter
The Champagne Supernova Blog

…It’s critical to apply best practices and benefit from others’ lessons learned. There are a million different websites and available resources, but which ones provide information you can actually trust and put to good use? Below are some sites that offer tons of mindful birthing resources:

  • Mindful Birthing
  • Gina Hassan, Ph.D.
  • Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Ann has graciously volunteered to donate a copy of Nancy Bardacke’s book, Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond to three randomly-chosen individuals who comment on this blog post by April 30, 2015. Read more.

March 21, 2015
Treating ADHD Naturally
The People’s Pharmacy Radio

An amazing number of American youngsters is considered to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In some states, CDC data show that more than 10 percent of school children carries this diagnosis. The usual treatments for ADHD are stimulant drugs such as Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin. While they can be helpful in some cases, there is a suspicion that they are being overprescribed. Approximately two million children are currently taking them and are expected to continue on them for years. Not surprisingly, parents are often reluctant to start down that path. They worry about side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, or effects on growth. Listen to podcast of interview with Dr. Sanford Newmark.

February 2015
Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP): Innovation in birth preparation to support healthy, happy families
The International Journal of Birth and Parent Education

Childbirth education programs are widely delivered throughout the industrialized world.  In the USA, approximately 3.9 million women give birth each year, and approximately half of them attend some form of childbirth preparation course. There is unfortunately little evidence that childbirth education, as currently structured, is effective in producing beneficial impact on the birth experience and may instead cause the undesirable result of increasing women’s fear of childbirth. Maternal stress in general is linked with preterm birth, and more focused examinations of fear of childbirth have demonstrated its links with adverse birth outcomes, such as greater risk of emergency cesarean. An innovative and efficacious approach to childbirth education is needed, which is the aim of our research on the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) program. Read more.

January 20, 2015
Dr. Rick Hecht Radio Interview on Sedentary Time Meta Analysis, in Annals of Internal Medicine
KGO Radio

January 13, 2015
A Deep Breath for PTSD
KALW: The Spirtual Edge

It is typically hard to recruit veterans for a clinical study on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). To admit to the disorder and seek treatment, which may involve some sort of psychotherapy, runs counter to the tough, stoic attitude embedded in military culture.

But one clinical trial may be doing better than most — a collaborative study out of the UC San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC). Its secret? The study offers a chance for veterans to exercise — something they’re quite familiar with. Then while they’re pumping weights, it teaches them how to breathe. Read more.

January 12, 2015
On point: Broadening pain management options with acupuncture, by Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA
Mission: Health Equity

As I think about the year ahead, one change that I’m really excited about is the prospect of acupuncture for patients at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). In the US, pain management is the leading reason that patients seek care from acupuncturists. Acupuncture utilization has increased by 50% over the past decade, but is not commonly used by non-Asian minority populations and those with limited income. Barriers to use include high out-of-pocket costs and limited access to services. Read more.

January 2015
Tackling Childhood Obesity
Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing newsletter

Five years ago, President Barack Obama established a national Task Force on Childhood Obesity, aimed at reducing the rate of childhood obesity to just five percent by 2030–the same rate seen before the problem began to increase in the late 1970s. It was an initiative driven by sobering statistics: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 10 percent of children age five and younger, 18 percent of children ages six to 11, and 21 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 are obese. All told, about a third of kids and teens are either overweight or obese. Read more.

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