Dr. Andrew Weil's Integrative Medicine Plan for County Workers OK'd by Maricopa County Supervisors

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Dr. Andrew Weil's Center for Integrative Medicine has found a major new funding source thanks to a deal made this morning with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

The Tucson-based center, which controversially merges alternative treatments like acupuncture with conventional medicine, expects to open a Valley clinic sometime next year. (The planned opening is July 1).

Today, county Supervisors approved on a 5-0 vote to allow county workers to use their health benefits for services at Weil's planned center.

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Dr. Andrew Weil

It's unclear how much this deal will cost the county, if anything -- in fact, one of the experiment's goals is to determine the cost effect of the integrative-medicine concept. There are no initial costs to the county, which isn't funding the new center's start-up.

What is certain, though, is that Weil's center will benefit from the new clients. The Valley center could take up to 1,800 county employees as patients.

County officials estimate that about 25,000 county employees and their dependents use about $100 million worth of services annually. A big chunk of that goes to primary care physicians, and Weil's center will encourage prospective patients to choose their doctors for primary care.

The agreement (click here to see the PDF) between the county and Weil's center ends in June of 2015, but could be renewed.

The plan calls for a statistical study of the program's effectiveness, both in terms of cost and the patients' medical outcomes.

However, county officials we spoke with today said they don't know the details of how the study will actually be conducted. Nor do they have any estimate of how much money will be diverted from conventional physicians to those in the integrative medicine center.

That said, "we are confident its not going to cost more" than conventional health care, says Chris Bradley, county director of business strategies and health care programs.

The county's health benefits plan, through Cigna, already pays for up to 20 alternative treatments, like acupuncture, each year.

Some folks, including us, are skeptical of alternative treatments that aren't grounded in science. Conventional medicine itself can be pretty sketchy.

One of the things that sets off our baloney meter when it comes to acupuncture is the large number of ailments it supposedly treats.

Weil's Web site says that "because the goal of acupuncture is to promote and restore the balance of energy, which flows throughout the body, it can be used for a wide variety of conditions."

The blurb goes on to list some of those conditions: anxiety, depression, Parkinson's disease, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility, arthritis, strokes, migraines, fatigue, drug addictions and "overall well-being."

If only acupuncture worked as advertised, the country's health care costs would sure be at lot lower.

Maybe the three-year study -- funded by Coors beer -- will shed light on the benefits of alternative treatments.

In fact, with Dr. Weil selling vitamins and herbal supplements by the truckload, something tells us the study will tend to support his overall marketing schemes.

Integrative Medicine


Well, there is something loveable about a guy who believes LSD helped cure his life-long allergy to cats:




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30 comments
ExpertShot
ExpertShot

1.  I didn't say you quoted Dr. Knopes inaccurately.  You misread my communication.  I stated quite clearly that "Dr. Knope's statements were false and you presented them in your article."  When you present another person's statements in your news article (it was labeled news ("1000 mg of news") and not commentary), as a journalist, you are vouching for that statement's accuracy.  On the face of the conversation presented in the video, Dr. Knope presents information he knows to false or at least suspect on more than one occasion and keeps on presenting it, even after he is advised that the information is false by Dr. Weil.  Dr. Knope clearly has an agenda, to prop up sales of his book: Concierge Medicine; A New System to Get the Best Healthcare (Praeger, 2008).  I wonder if he consulted with the Michael Jackson's killer-doc If Dr. Knope were concerned about getting information out about misuse of non-pharmaceutical remedies, he would have done so by simply asking Dr. Weil if he is against misuse of non-pharmaceutical remedies (Dr. Weil is and has written and spoken extensively about that subject).  He did not.  All he was concerned with was making a name for himself by being controversial in an effort to sell more of his books.  Even if that meant falsely demonizing Dr. Weil.  It is readily apparent and I'm surprised you are resisting my statement that Dr. Knopes presented inaccurate and false information, although it is clear in the video, you presented, that he is.2.     "The family foundation was created with beer money."  Yes, but it is not a beer company that is funding the study as you falsely state.  I find it incredible that I have to explain this to you in such detail.  I'm guessing you went to college and can understand basic English grammer. So I won't go that far, but really Ray - you made a statement "funded by Coors beer" (if you click the hyperlinked "Coors" it takes you to to the company Coors website and not the foundation's website http://www.coorsfoundation.org... You're like Andrew Weiner - I didn't do that - I'm innocent - Oh, I'll just apologize and quit . . . WTF!3.  Yes, the article you cite does refute your article's premise - that conducting a statistical study of integrative medicine is somehow useless and costly and not worthy of the County of Maricopa supporting in any way.  In your response to me, you put quote marks around the word sham where there were none in the article.  You then failed to define what the author meant by sham.  In fact, the word "sham" in that article is meant to refer to a device which allows the study of accupunture with a "control".  This is not the meaning you try to assign to it in your response above.  This is disingenuous of you.In fact, the article states: "The majority of RCTs employing new sham-acupuncture devices that allow adequate control of placebo effects imply that acupuncture is not associated with clinical effects beyond a powerful placebo response"  In addition to the word "majority" means that some studies (4 out of 13) DID show clinical effects.  Note also the words "powerful placebo response" in the article.  The studies clearly show that there is powerful placebo response in effect with accupunture procedures.  As you may not know, but I will inform you, a "powerful placebo response" heals people and is a very well known and widely studied medical procedure used in conventional medicine.  The article goes on to state that with more study of the placebo response in general, the actual method of causation of healing that patients of accupunture experience will be known.You do know that they only recently discovered "dark matter" and "string theory" and "quantum levitation."  If a procedure such as accupuncture clearly works as shown by study after study and the scientists don't know how it works (so they call it a powerful placebo response) it's likely that the cause and effect will soon be discovered with the statistical study which will be conducted as referred to in your article.My main point of contention with your article was not the disingenuous method in which you presented this "news" item, it is with your implication that it might cost the County money.  Three different quotes from three different people in your article state clearly that it will not and yet there you are with your "It's unclear how much this deal will cost the county, if anything . . ."  It is NOT unclear "how much this deal will cost the county" Ray.  It is totally clear!!!!  One of the quotes from the article is from you "There are no initial costs to the county."  WTF!Your article goes on to state that Cigna, through the County's health care plan for its employees, already pays for alternative therapies, including accupuncture.  I'm just amazed at your disingenuous duplicity here (and in past articles on the subject).  Please just present the news and leave the commentary and attempts to demonize 20,000 years of human history to Glenn Beck - you just don't have the charts and chalkboard and it just is . . . bad.BTW - Come out and see my band sometime and I'll buy you a beer and we can continue this conversation then.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

False?Dr. Knope's statements were false and you presented them in your article.  You state that Coors Beer if funding the IM study - that company is not.  At the following web page you will find a disclaimer about the Adolph Coors Foundation stating they are not affiliated with any beer company and that it is a family run foundation.http://www.coorsfoundation.org...The site you provide states: Taken as a group, reviews of clinical studies published since 1990 on the clinical efficacy of acupuncture do not support the notion that acupuncture is effective for any variety of conditions and cast doubt on efficacy for some specific conditions for which acupuncture has been reported as effective’. The evidence from current systematic reviews (Table 1) suggests that both of these views are incorrect.  and The best current evidence suggests that it is effective as a symptomatic treatment of dental pain, fibromyalgia, nausea/vomiting, knee osteoarthritis, insomnia, epicondylitis, chronic back pain, idiopathic headache, resolution of breech presentation and as an aid during gastrointestinal endoscopy (Table 1).. . . . Some clinicians argue that the main point about any medical intervention is that it alleviates the suffering of patients regardless of mechanism and that ‘it is not meaningful to split complex interventions into characteristic and incidental elements’ [157]. If acupuncture alleviates suffering through a powerful placebo effect which theoretically could exceed the total therapeutic effect of conventional therapeutic options, it should be accepted as a useful treatment. Some scientists, however, might find this notion difficult to accept. Of course, the scientific study of placebo effects and mechanism is both feasible and important [158–161], and the results of such research may significantly contribute to our understanding of how acupuncture works. But, if nonspecific factors are that relevant, we should not study them with a view to harnessing them for clinical practice in general and not just for acupuncture?

This cite then goes on to strongly argue for studies just like the University of Arizona is going to be conducting through the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.  www.azcim.orgRay, did you look up the information on ibogaine?  Cures addictions too.  Mainly used in its natural state (preparations from the bark of the Ibodi tree) as a rite of manhood in African tribal ceremonies.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Dr. Weil doesn't excite me too much but there are many people in the non poisonous side of medicine that do very good work.  Dr. Hulda Clark who recently passed was one of those who actually helped people instead of contributing to their sickness like mainstream medicine does.  Alternative medicine treats the cause of people's afflictions instead of treating the symptoms.  Of course people like her are the victims of propaganda and do not live the life of luxury like Dr. Weil does.   He has good basic ideas but I just don't care for his style which by the way doesn't mean he isn't legitimate.   People might try reading some books by these practitioners of alternative healing instead of showing us their ignorance.   And no offense intended but I'd stay away from Wikipedia.  It's not a credible source, anyone can submit to it and qualified people are often denied their submittal of accurate information.

Alisa Fierro LMT
Alisa Fierro LMT

This is aligned with my own workshops that are filled with self help techniques. We have the ability to heal ourselves on all levels; when western medicine has failed then perhaps the sceptics will take a closer look. Thank you Dr. Weil for all of your work, I look forward to seeing the Phoenix wellness center in 2012.

Tubes Fan
Tubes Fan

Just another woo-woo quack asshole.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Mr. Stern: I am in awe of the jaw-dropping ignorance you continually present in your articles and columns.

In the interview cited, Dr. Knope, when presented with evidence that contradicted his statements, proceeded to to continue his, then baseless, criticism of Dr. Weil without any thought to incorporate the correct additional information into his communication.  Dr. Knope continued to try to imply that Dr. Weil recommended LSD to his patients and Dr. Weil stated TWICE that he did not recommend treatments to patients based on his personal experiences with LSD (which, by the way, prior to its becoming a political football and being placed on the illegal drug schedule, was used by the U.S. Government and MANY physicians as an accepted treatment - and would have been an especially effective treatment now had it not been outlawed). 

I can tell, you certainly don't agree with your colleague there at New Times, Jennifer Flowers, who promoted Dr. Weil in the New Times just last June.  Just as you have with other issues, you charge ahead with inaccurate and sometimes blatantly false information without confirming your information.  Does the fact that the acupuncture is definitely over 2000 years old and is most likely over 10,000 years old (evidence of use is available by Neolithic peoples).  Accupuncture is the basis for the entire asian medical profession.   Why don't you at least study the subject before you pontificate on it - fasely - to the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry and the disadvantage of the people who are being denied this proven treatment for a large range of conditions.  Hell, even Richard Nixon was treated with accupuncture.

So, is it because you have stock in some pharmaceutical company, you trash alternative treatments?  Or are you really that ignorant.  Please read up on the subjects before you write about them - it only takes a few moments to relieve your ignorance.  Start herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

What's really needed is a treatment for the stupidity of those who believe this "Snake Oil" salesman.

Jayney
Jayney

Alternative and complementary medical treatments and services were offered in Northern Ireland alongside conventional medicine. Patients could choose which route they preferred to go. The project demonstrated that the alternative And complementary route provided huge cost savings, patients got better faster and were highly satisfied with the treatments. Often these patients had already tried conventional medicines which had not worked. See "get well uk" for full details

Lone Lunatic
Lone Lunatic

This Dr Weil is a known ex LSD acid head hippie deadhead and pot smoker from Tucson . I used to do acid with him and get stoned with him back in Tucson in around 1973. he is a good guy.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

1. Weil sells stuff, too - yet only Knopes has an agenda, huh?

2. Foundation's board of trustees: Pete Coors, Bill Coors, Ces Coors Garnsey, Reverend Robert Windsor, Melissa Coors Osborn and Jeff Coors.Hey, I know a great foundation you can give to this year that has nothing to do with oil: www.shellfoundation.com. It claims to be independent of Shell Oil, too.

3. Regurgitating the article again doesn't help your argument, and I've said all I'm gonna say about it.

4. Does your band suck as bad as your childish, troll-like arguments?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature.http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997...

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

Between all of your misguided insults, you forgot to include any facts that support your argument. Your implications are plain weird, Shotty. C'mon -- just because the Chinese have been sticking pieces of bone, stone or unsterilized metal into people for thousands of years doesn't mean it's effective or scientific. There are some decent arguments I've heard for acupuncture, but the practice being over "10,000 years old" isn't one of them.

I'll call your bluff -- what "inaccurate and sometimes blatantly false" info was in the article?

BTW, Weil did say that based on his experience, he'd recommend LSD for allergy treatment, depending on the government's position on it.

Ray

Keri
Keri

 all he does is tell us how to eat better and live a healthier life. whats so snake oil about that?

Escaped Mental Patient
Escaped Mental Patient

 actually he is about 50 light years ahead of your ignorant type of human.  you just haven't got on yet and probably never will.

Guest 81
Guest 81

 what did you expect? he is an old hippie burnout. he still shops at the 4th ave co-op in Tucson like its still 1968 and eats all that hippie heath food. those types are always weird.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

1973!  Do you remember the Brother's Warehouse in Tucson?  That's a warehouse in Tucson where the Trucks from Mexico were off-loaded of their cargo (mj).  If one were of the entrepenurial spirit, one could - at that time - drive to the warehouse from Phoenix, walk up to the dock while the off loading was occuring and offer $10.00 for a kilo of pot and it would be a deal.  The dock workers liked to make a little spare money as well.  Thank you Lord for the sacraments!

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

you should update your article to include the coors foundation website (it states that it is a FAMILY foundation so, yeah - it's gonna have people with the Coors last name - however, that doesn't mean you have professional ethics.  You don't!  I am not making childish arguments.  I am making simple straight forward points of errors in your article.  It is you who is acting troll like now - bringing my band's quality of performance into your bilge water.  My band's performance ability, which is great BTW, has NOTHING to do with this issue of your presenting inaccurate information to public in an article you wrote.  NOTHING.  If you want a review, try Up On The Sun article about our album.  I think you'll be impressed - Up On The Sun reviewers rarely are and they were with my band's CD. 

I've not insulted your mother or you personally, but here you are - instead of doing the right thing and correcting your errors and thanking me, you're engaging in character assisnation.  I didn't say that the Coors family had nothing to do with the Coors foundation, just that the beer company doesn't, and it doesn't.  You made it out like it does. 

Are you sure you don't want to sit down and talk about this? Perhaps over a Coors beer?

BTW - you pointed out Weil's agenda, but you did NOT point out Knopes.  As a professional reporter, you should - he's a concierge doctor, like the one that killed Michael Jackson - he'll do anything for the right money.  Why are you hooking your wagon to this guy?

Is your editor reading these?  I'm surprised you haven't had your parking priviledges revoked for this obstinate display of hostility to a reader and long time New Times supporter.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

I included for your perusal the link to an encyclopedia entry (Wikipedia) for Accupuncture, which apparently you have skimmed.  I encourage you to start with that article, which presents many FACTS (far more than you did in your article which was practically ZERO).  Since you state that you've heard some "decent arguments" for Accupuncture, perhaps you can enlighten us as to your opinion on the efficacy of said arguments.  Did they convince you that Accupuncture was an effective treatment for ANY of the aliments you list?  If so, you've actually presented information you KNOW to be false and maligned a valid medical treatment for pain, or hemaroids, as the case may be.  Why pick on accupuncture? 

I know why you picked on LSD - you thought it would rile up your audience.  Shame, that's just lazy journalism - Jon Daily is speaking of your efforts on this article when he presents his show highlighting the problem with employees in media companies today.  So, if the government decides to de-list LSD from its Schedule of illegal, harmful, toxic drugs because it's own research shows that it is not harmful or toxic, then the National Institute for Health reviews the governments own research to date on the substance and finds there are uses for the compound, Dr. Weil would recommend it?  That's what you're saying to further try to besmirch Dr. Weil?  I would imagine if the government approved its use, MANY physicians would recommend it to their patients.

I would actually recommend a drug called Ibogaine to you.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

You know, Ibogaine is a compound that is made from the bark of the ibogi tree from Africa.  It's a natural cure for many diseases (immaturity is one of them).  Perhaps that is the stick you have up your butt against natural healing as you have, in a way, denied that you have a financial interest in seeing natural healing methodologies fail.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

That 4th Avenue co-op is called Rainbow Co-operative and it is a small business operated by its members.  It has been in operation longer than most other businesses in this STate, since 1971 (over 40 years), probably before your daddy sewed his ill-begotten seed.  It is the best food purchasing option in Tucson -highest quality food with the most knowledgable staff.

http://www.foodconspiracy.org/

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

If you go to the foundation's website, there is a FAQ there which states unequivocably that the foundation is in no way connected with the brewery.  You're wrong, you put false information in your article and you do your readers a disservice as they are less smart after reading your tripe.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

See my newer responses elsewhere - something screwed up on the Disqus system.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

You'll have to do better than that.1. I quoted Dr. Knopes accurately.2. I appreciate your loyalty to Coors, but the family foundation was created with beer money.3. What you pasted from the site I referenced yesterday doesn't refute anything I wrote in the article -- at least, I don't think it does and you don't say what part of my article it allegedly refutes.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

False?Dr. Knope's statements were false and you presented them in your article.  You state that Coors Beer if funding the IM study - that company is not.  At the following web page you will find a disclaimer about the Adolph Coors Foundation stating they are not affiliated with any beer company and that it is a family run foundation.http://www.coorsfoundation.org...The site you provide states: Taken as a group, reviews of clinical studies published since 1990 on the clinical efficacy of acupuncture do not support the notion that acupuncture is effective for any variety of conditions and cast doubt on efficacy for some specific conditions for which acupuncture has been reported as effective’. The evidence from current systematic reviews (Table 1) suggests that both of these views are incorrect.  and The best current evidence suggests that it is effective as a symptomatic treatment of dental pain, fibromyalgia, nausea/vomiting, knee osteoarthritis, insomnia, epicondylitis, chronic back pain, idiopathic headache, resolution of breech presentation and as an aid during gastrointestinal endoscopy (Table 1).. . . . Some clinicians argue that the main point about any medical intervention is that it alleviates the suffering of patients regardless of mechanism and that ‘it is not meaningful to split complex interventions into characteristic and incidental elements’ [157]. If acupuncture alleviates suffering through a powerful placebo effect which theoretically could exceed the total therapeutic effect of conventional therapeutic options, it should be accepted as a useful treatment. Some scientists, however, might find this notion difficult to accept. Of course, the scientific study of placebo effects and mechanism is both feasible and important [158–161], and the results of such research may significantly contribute to our understanding of how acupuncture works. But, if nonspecific factors are that relevant, we should not study them with a view to harnessing them for clinical practice in general and not just for acupuncture?

This cite then goes on to strongly argue for studies just like the University of Arizona is going to be conducting through the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.  www.azcim.orgRay, did you look up the information on ibogaine?  Cures addictions too.  Mainly used in its natural state (preparations from the bark of the Ibodi tree) as a rite of manhood in African tribal ceremonies.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

I'm still waiting for you to tell me what was "inaccurate" or "blatantly false" in my article.

I would definitely recommend the Wikipedia article you referenced to support a healthy skepticism of acupuncture. To boil that article down, it states bluntly that "Scientific research has not found it effective for anything but the relief of some types of pain and nausea," and then goes on to imply strongly that it's the placebo effect that achieves any results at all.

Here's another good reference for you:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com...

This article points out (no pun intended) that "sham" acupuncture studies were conducted in the 2000, and the results were:

"Of the 13 studies available to date, nine show no significant difference between real and sham acupuncture in the primary outcome measure. Thus the majority of these trials suggests that the effects of acupuncture could after all be mostly due to a placebo response."

I assume I don't need to bother explaining why the foundational elements of acupuncture -- balancing the yin and yang of chi energy, meridians and acupuncture points -- are considered scientifically unproven concepts.

You ask "why pick on acupuncture?" I'm just using it as one example of an scientifically unproven practice. Obviously, neither of us have time to chat about every type of alternative remedy.

I think you mean Jon Stewart. Personally, I think the idea of using LSD to cure cat allergies is radical and fascinating, and certainly worth mentioning. 60 Minutes, that bastion of "lazy journalism," thought so, too.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Sorry, Rainbow Co-operative was in Phoenix (it also operated as a going concern for a VERY long time until the City of Phoenix paved it over with Hwy 51).  The Food Co-op in Tucson is Food Conspiracy.

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