To celebrate its 15-year anniversary, Samueli Institute invited guests to gather and share stories of the positive impact the Institute’s research has had in helping patients, policymakers, service members and veterans find evidence-based alternative, complementary and integrative treatments for chronic pain and illness.
In 2001, Henry & Susan Samueli launched Samueli Institute to explore the science of healing and expand the evidence base for complementary and integrative medicine. In the ensuing decade and a half, Institute researchers published more than 700 peer-reviewed articles and hosted scientific conferences of global experts, developed programs for pain, stress and performance for the military and supported healthy communities across the United States.
Now, after 15 years of service to the integrative health, healthcare, and military communities, Samueli Institute will cease research and programmatic operations in 2017.
“I am enormously proud of the work that Samueli Institute and all of its staff, fellows and grantees have accomplished. And I am grateful to Henry and Susan Samueli for their investment in time, money and expertise in supporting the work of the Institute,” said Wayne Jonas, MD, Samueli Institute President & CEO.
Limiting the stressors in our lives is not always possible; however, managing HOW we deal with the stress can be within our control. Nearly half of Americans report that their stress levels have increased in the last five years making effective treatments to decrease psychological distress in demand. Even more so, are mind-body programs that provide individuals the opportunity to have greater control over their own health. This focus on the self-management of health is a global phenomenon with increasing usage of complementary and integrative health practices being reported in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe.
In 2008, 19% of U.S. adults (more than 55 million people) reported using at least one mind-body therapy during the previous 12 months and in 2012, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi and qi gong were among the most frequently used techniques. These therapies are based on the biopsychosocial model, a perspective that acknowledges that biological, psychological (e.g., thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social factors all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of wellness and illness. It is often used to describe the concept of the “mind–body connection.”
In 2008, 19% of U.S. adults (more than 55 million people) reported using at least one mind-body therapy during the previous 12 months.
A recent article in the New York Times on alternative treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) highlights a key question: how do we know what alternative therapies work to treat our veterans suffering from PTSD?
Dr. Barbara Rothbaum is a psychologist at Emory University who runs an intensive two-week PTSD treatment program that includes complementary and alternative treatments. While compiling a National Academy of Sciences report on therapies for PTSD, she encountered a key issue: “We met a lot of well-meaning clinicians around the country creating programs with equine therapy or wilderness therapy or whatever, and there was no way to know if any of it worked,” said. “Because of that, we couldn’t recommend it.”
This is not to say that the programs do not work—but the evidence base is not strong enough yet. Part of that is a question of research funding. Drug companies have a vested interest in funding multi-million dollar clinical trials. However, many of the organizations running these alternative programs barely have enough funding to carry out the programs, and therefore do not have the extra funding available for the evaluation of these programs—creating a cyclical problem.
“We need to get what doesn’t work OUT and what DOES work IN the regular treatment for PTSD,” said Wayne B. Jonas, MD. “But we can’t do that unless we build evaluation into each program.”
Two recent projects of Samueli Institute are helping to build the evidence base for complementary and alternative treatments for pain, stress and health.
Stress Management – A new report by Samueli Institute boils down more than a decade of research on stress management. It builds upon an earlier study that focused on military-related programs.
Massage– Samueli Institute recently published a systematic reviews and meta-analysis series that is the first to rigorously assess the quality of massage therapy research and evidence for its efficacy in treating pain, function-related and health-related quality of life for pain, cancer and surgical patients.
In his article entitled The Evidence of Enough, Dr. Jonas explains the challenge and the imperative of managing and evaluating the growing body of evidence: “A more rigorous management of the judgment processes for evidence is needed. Lives, money and the mitigation of suffering depend on it.” Read more.
A recent study confirmed the link between traumatic brain injury and headaches or migraines.
The article published in the July 2016 Medical Surveillance Monthly Report also shows how the prevalence of headaches for service members with TBI increases with the severity of the injury.
“Compared to service members without TBI, those who sustained a mild TBI were 3.99 times more likely to have a headache or migraine, and those with a moderate/severe TBI were 8.89 times more likely.”[i] – Vincent P. Beswick-Escanlar, MD, MPH et al. (July 2016, MSMR)
Source: Medical Surveillance Monthly Report
This highlights the importance of finding sustainable treatment options for service members experiencing headache due to mild to moderate TBI. Another study also published this year provided evidence that acupuncture should be a standard form of treatment for chronic headaches due to TBI. Researchers discovered that both Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) and Auricular Acupuncture (AA) were more effective for reducing pain and improving headache-related quality of life than usual care without acupuncture.
Learn more about the Samueli institute study on acupuncture for headache here.
[i] Increasing Severity of Traumatic Brain Injury Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Subsequent Headache or Migraine: A Retrospective Cohort Study of U.S. Active Duty Service Members, 2006–2015
In our current healthcare system, a person’s overall health is balanced by pharmaceuticals, surgery, and self-care, according to Herbert Benson, MD, author of “The Relaxation Response.” As a result of this healthcare model, between 60-90% of healthcare visits are for conditions likely caused by chronic stress. It is his professional belief, that through meditation and eliciting the relaxation response, the harmful effects of chronic stress can be reduced or even eliminated. Continue reading “Meditation and the Relaxation Response” »