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Is a Career in Integrative Health Right For You? Here’s Why You May Want to Consider

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Integrative health is an exciting and expanding field of medicine that utilizes a holistic approach to patient care, empowerment, and well-being. And while many integrated healthcare practices rely on Eastern or traditional philosophies, we know from current research that integrative health is increasingly found in mainstream environments, including hospitals, medical schools, nursing schools, and other comprehensive healthcare systems.

An integrative health career can be a great way to serve others while also honoring your own commitment to human and even planetary wellness. Keep reading to learn more about careers in integrative health and whether this track is right for you.

What is Integrative Health?

Integrative health, sometimes called alternative or complementary health, is an approach to healthcare that blends conventional and traditional approaches to human wellness. Integrative health emphasizes the importance of taking a patient-focused view. This is different from the typical conventional medicine approach, which tends to focus on a specific disease process, organ system, symptom, or syndrome rather than seeing the patient as a whole person.

In the integrative health model, special attention paid to the mental, emotional, spiritual, social, physical, community, and functional aspects of a patient. By observing and assessing the patient in this broader context, in addition to implementing and conventional medicine techniques as necessary, integrative healthcare professionals are able to help their patients achieve holistic and long-lasting positive outcomes.

To truly “integrate” and optimize the healing experience for a patient, integrative health relies on the coordination and collaboration between a number of providers and services. Some of the best careers in integrative health and wellness available today include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Herbal medicine
  • Chiropractic
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Corporate and workplace wellness
  • Cannabis science

Like other leaders in the integrative health field, we at MUIH believe that integrative health is not meant to be utilized in a vacuum. Likewise, integrative services are not mutually exclusive to more conventional approaches to medicine. Both conventional and complementary medicine can work wonderfully together in order to enhance patient care and quality of life.

Who Should Work in Integrative Health?

Integrative health is a growing field, and the demand for integrative healthcare providers is expanding rapidly. And because there are so many ways to practice integrative health—and so many opportunities to serve patients—this field is open to anyone who has a genuine interest in health and wellness.

If you have a natural interest in holistic practices, love working with others, and enjoy helping people develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between their mind, body, and lifestyle, then a career in integrative health is an excellent option for you—either as a way to augment your current healthcare career or as a way to pivot into a brand new profession!

Things to Consider When Pursuing a Career in Integrative Health

The career outlook for integrative health practitioners is promising. But first, it’s important to make sure you feel confident that it’s the right choice for you.

Before investing in a career in integrative health, be sure to consider questions such as:

  • What area of study do I want to practice in?
  • Why do I want to pursue a career in integrative health?
  • What career opportunities exist for me in my chosen area of study?
  • What kind of population or populations would I love to serve?
  • Where do I see myself practicing?
  • How much money and time am I willing and able to invest in my training?
  • Which program is the best fit option for me?
  • Do I already have any of the prerequisites or prior experiences needed for acceptance into an accredited training program?
  • What does work/life balance mean to me, and how can my career in integrative health honor that?

Choose an Area of Study

The first thing to consider is choosing an area of study. Integrative health is an all-encompassing term that includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, cannabis science, yoga therapy, and more. You truly have so many options! In many cases, integrative health practitioners are even able to incorporate two or more specialties into their professional practice. This holistic and comprehensive approach helps them serve their patients and clients even more effectively.

MUIH offers a diverse array of integrative health programs to choose from and help you hone your skills and narrow down your career focus.

>h3?Choose the Right Program

Once you’ve chosen an area of study to pursue, it is important to research different schools and programs and find your best fit. Here are a few questions to consider as you research and narrow down your program options:

  • What sort of accreditations does the school offer?
  • What prerequisites are required prior to acceptance?
  • What are the anticipated program fees and schedules?
  • Does the institution have any collaborative relationships with other healthcare systems, hospitals, or institutions?
  • Does the institution provide any guidance or assistance when it comes to post-graduate employment opportunities?

Talking to existing and former students is a great way to get real-time insights into the quality of the institution, faculty, and programs. Most important of all, you should check the course catalog to see if it contains all of the classes that you are interested in!

Conclusion

Alternative, complementary, or integrative health is an expanding field of medicine that offers providers and patients a growing number of exciting opportunities. If you’re interested in exploring graduate studies toward a career as an integrative health practitioner, contact the Maryland University of Integrative Health today to learn more about our classes and programs.

Wondering How to Become a Yoga Therapist? Here Are Our Top 10 Tips

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This holistic mind-body practice has been around for thousands of years and is currently used all over the world by people from all walks of life. Yoga has an impressive list of health benefits—from reducing stress to relieving low back pain—and has even been studied as an adjunct treatment for chronic health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obesity.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga has even been shown to help people quit smoking and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Clearly, yoga has the potential to change lives for the better!

If you’ve been thinking about turning your love of yoga into a career that allows you to help others, becoming a yoga therapist might be a perfect step for you.

What is a Yoga Therapist?

This might be helpful to remember—all yoga therapists are yoga teachers, but not all yoga teachers are yoga therapists.

Here’s what we mean:

To become a yoga teacher, you have to undergo at least 200 hours of certified training. A person who aspires to become a yoga therapist must undergo this 200 hours AND fulfill advanced training at a certified accredited school.

To earn their certification, a certified yoga therapist must complete at least 800 hours of rigorous training (in addition to the 200 hours needed to become a yoga instructor) that provides an even deeper understanding of anatomy, physiology, and yoga theory, as well as topics that bridge the gap between Eastern and Western philosophies of medicine and healthcare.

Yoga therapists must also log at least 100 clinical hours working with clients, generally done in one-on-one or small group settings.

The end result? A yoga therapist is a highly trained individual who can guide and instruct people through yoga sessions that are couched in a more therapeutic setting. These professionals are skilled at modifying and adapting their yoga sessions to the specific and sometimes sensitive needs of their clients, including those who are dealing with prior trauma or mental health issues.

To be sure, working with a yoga teacher can be excellent for your well-being. But due to their advanced training, yoga therapists are better equipped to help clients learn how to manage or reduce chronic health symptoms, improve their quality of life, and develop greater personal empowerment.

You might think of this as the difference between venting on the phone to a friend versus discussing personal issues with a licensed mental health counselor. Both avenues may help, but the latter is likely to provide more significant and lasting benefits. Such is the experience of many people who work with certified yoga therapists.

Now the question is:

How do you become a certified yoga therapist? Here are 6 tips to get you started.

Tip 1: Regularly Attend Yoga Classes

Before investing time and money into a yoga career, you want to make sure you like yoga! Look up classes in your area and start attending regularly. It’s also a good idea to start taking a personal inventory by asking yourself questions like:

  • Why do I want to become a yoga therapist?
  • How much can I afford to invest in my training?
  • What style of yoga and/or what groups of people do I want to work with?

Tip 2: Get Involved

Once you’ve started regularly attending yoga classes, the next step is to ask your yoga teacher or mentor for advice about how to get started. At this stage in your journey, you should establish yourself in your local yoga community and find your preferred style of yoga.

Tip 3: Become a Certified Yoga Teacher

Remember, becoming a yoga teacher is only the first stepping stone to becoming a yoga therapist. That means you’ll need to apply for and complete at least 200 teacher training hours in a certified yoga program. You’ll also want to make sure you explore which types of yoga you want to specialize in (e.g., Vinyasa, Hatha, power, hot, Sivananda Ashtanga, etc.).

Yoga therapy programs require a teaching certification through a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS®) or its equivalent. The specific certification you’ll earn depends on the number of teacher training hours you complete and other factors. Teaching certifications include:

  • Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®) 200
  • RYT® 500
  • E-RYT® 200, RYT® 500
  • E-RYT® 500

There are also specialty certifications you can choose to pursue, including Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT®) and Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT®).

Note: RPYT® and RCYT® do not satisfy the full 200 hour requirement to become a certified yoga teacher.

Tip 4: Start Teaching

Most yoga therapy courses ask that you have at least one year of teaching under your belt before you apply. So, once you’ve become a certified and licensed yoga teacher, it’s time to start teaching! Teaching is the best way to hone your skills, expand your networking opportunities (handy for references, which you’ll need to apply to yoga therapy school), and help you clarify where you’d like your yoga career to take you.

You can find a job as a yoga teacher by word-of-mouth referrals, networking with your yoga colleagues, or even looking up local listings.

Tip 5: Choose the Right Yoga Therapy Program

As is the case for all higher education tracks, not all yoga therapy programs are the same. So, once you’ve been teaching yoga for about a year and are ready to start your yoga therapy training, you’ll need to do your research and make sure you find the right one for you.

When selecting a yoga therapy program, be sure to ask about things like:

  • Program costs and scholarship opportunities
  • PPrerequisites and course credits
  • PProgram format and schedule
  • PJob opportunities for graduates
  • PWill this program allow you to work in a clinical setting?

As an example, the Master of Science in Yoga Therapy at MUIH offers an integrative hybrid experience for students who have earned a minimum of 200-hour Teacher Training through a Yoga Alliance 200-hr registered school program or its equivalent. We’re proud to say that 86 percent of our recent graduates are employed or self-employed within a year of graduation.

Tip 6: Decide Where You Want to Work

There are so many different ways to practice yoga therapy, which makes it a great option for people who like to have some flexibility in their careers. As a yoga therapist, you can find work in a clinic, gym, institutional setting, or school. You can even start your own private practice.

Conclusion

Yoga therapists are highly skilled professionals who are trained to teach yoga in a therapeutic setting in individual or small-group settings. Yoga therapy is an increasingly popular field with many career opportunities for people who are interested in holistic healing practices within the context of Western medicine.

For more information on how to become a registered yoga therapist and what yoga therapy programs are like, check out the Master of Science in Yoga Therapy at the Maryland University of Integrative Health! We have also added a Post-Master’s Certificate in Therapeutic Yoga Practices. To decide which program is best for you, review our chart to find your fit!

What Can You Do With a Degree in Integrative Health

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Integrative Health has been a trending topic in recent years and for good reason. As people across America become more health conscious, their preferences for health care have changed. Patients are asking for more holistic and preventative options in contrast to conventional medicine.

If you are interested in a career in integrative health, then you’re in luck. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029. With stats like that, there are plenty of career opportunities for those interested in integrative health.

What Does Integrative Health Mean

Before we jump into the benefits of a degree in integrative health, some readers may be wondering, “what does integrative health mean?”

Integrative health approaches are typically defined as the coordinated use of conventional and complementary therapies. The term integrative implies that the various approaches are not just used in parallel to one another, but are employed in an organized fashion to optimize the benefits for clients/patients. It is a holistic approach to health care that encompasses all aspects of an individual. It finds the root cause of an illness. Practitioners in integrative health will utilize healing-oriented approaches, such as herbal remedies, and assess the whole person, including their diet, lifestyle, and mental health.

There are many career paths in which an integrative health practitioner may specialize in, including but not limited to functional nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and yoga therapy. Keep reading to find out more about career opportunities in integrative health.

Alternative Health and Holistic Careers

For those interested in alternative health or holistic career paths, there are lots of avenues to choose from. In fact, the different career opportunities may be a little overwhelming. For those prospective students who are a bit newer to the idea of pursuing a career in integrative health, you may be asking, “what can I do with a degree in integrative health?” The fact of the matter is, integrative health is an all-encompassing term to describe many different careers and job functions.

Here are some specific roles that fall under the description of integrative health:

  • Non-Pharmaceutical Pain Management
    • Non-pharmaceutical pain management is the management of pain without medication. Integrative health practitioners who specialize in pain management help patients cope with pain through therapeutic practices.
  • An emphasis on nutrition in healthcare
    • Nutrition is often overlooked in conventional medicine. Functional nutrition is a fulfilling field, helping patients and clients live healthier lives through proper nutrition and supplementation.
  • Natural remedies for mental and cognitive health
    • Herbalists and other integrative health practitioners can help improve the mental and cognitive well beings of their patients through natural remedies. As mental health awareness continues to rise, so has the demand for natural remedies.

Integrative Health Trends

As we mentioned before, there are many areas of specialty in integrative health.

Here is a list of some popular career opportunities one can pursue with a degree in integrative health:

  • Nutritionists
    • Nutritionists focus on the patient instead of the disease. Nutritionists optimize their patients’ health by creating personalized meal and supplementation plans based on a patients genetics, lab results, and lifestyle among other things.
  • Corporate/Workplace Wellness
    • Practitioners who work in corporate wellness design and manage workplace wellness programs for the benefit of company employees. They help promote healthy habits in the workplace and can even help businesses save on corporate health insurance.
  • Cannabis Science
    • There are a variety of career opportunities in cannabis science. You can specialize in cannabis therapeutics, dispensary operations, and formulating cannabis products. The cannabis industry continues to grow as more states legalize cannabis use.
  • Yoga Therapy
    • Yoga Therapy is a rapidly growing practice that is being adopted in hospitals, private clinics, and other health care organizations. Yoga therapists can work 1-on-1 with patients, help with mobility, mental health, and conduct research to further the field of yoga therapy.
  • Coaching
    • Health and wellness coaching has been dubbed “the new fitness career”. Health coaching takes a holistic approach to a person’s wellness. Health coaches blend fitness training, meal planning, and counseling into a personalized service for each individual. Health coaches can be seen as a healthy lifestyle consultant.

How Can MUIH Help You Achieve Your Career Goals?

If you’re looking to jumpstart your career in integrative health, then consider earning a degree or certificate from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. We offer 11 comprehensive areas of study led by qualified faculty. Our accredited programs can help you take the next step into a fulfilling career in integrative health.

Programs we offer:

If you would like to learn more about the degree programs offered at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, please reach out to our admissions team at and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

The Difference Between a Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Teacher

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What’s the difference between a yoga therapist and a yoga instructor?

 

Yoga Therapist Yoga Instructor
Audience Work one-on-one and in group settings with clients in a therapeutic relationship. Work with groups of people and teach general yoga classes.
Approach Help clients address health concerns and achieve relief from physical and emotional pain through the practice of yoga. Helping clients to cultivate greater wellbeing through the practices of yoga. Teach students how to perform yoga poses and practices.
Focus Focus on the individual goals and needs of clients and use therapeutic practices tailored to mitigate symptoms, restore wellness, improve function, and avoid re-injury.  Focus on yoga poses and alignment, breathing, meditation, and relaxation for general maintenance of well-being and exercise.
Emphases Emphasize personal empowerment of clients in self-care. Emphasize correct yoga technique.
Progress Measure the impact of therapy over time and adjust therapeutic practices based on clients’ progress. Provide opportunities for the structured and regular personal practice of yoga.
Collaboration Collaborate with other health care and medical practitioners to provide integrated care. Collaborate with other yoga instructors in learning and designing classes.
Settings Private practice, conventional health care and medical settings, hospitals and hospital systems, and health and wellness centers. Yoga studios, fitness clubs, gyms, and corporate settings.

 

Which Type of Yoga Therapy or Yoga Program is Best for Me?

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MUIH’s Post-Master’s Certificate is best if you …

  • See yourself primarily as a licensed health care provider in a field other than yoga.
  • Want to add therapeutic yoga practices to your current licensed health care work.
  • Want to incorporate yoga’s mind-body protocols in individualized plans tailored to clients’ needs.
  • Want to continue in your licensed field in conventional medical and health and wellness settings.

 

MUIH’s M.S. Yoga Therapy program is best if you …

  • See yourself primarily as a yoga therapist.
  • Intend to establish a private practice as a yoga therapist.
  • Want to work one-on-one and in groups with clients in a therapeutic relationship using yoga therapy.
  • Want to develop individualized yoga therapy plans tailored to clients’ needs
  • Want develop group yoga series for populations with specific needs.
  • Want to work in conventional medical and health and wellness settings as an integrative health professional.

 

A Yoga Teacher Training program (not offered by MUIH) is best is you …

  • See yourself primarily as a yoga teacher/instructor.
  • Intend to teach yoga classes.
  • Want to work with groups of people.
  • Want to use standardized sequences of yoga poses.
  • Want to work in studio settings.

Integrative Health Resources in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

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Today marks the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The MUIH team would like to highlight ways integrative health is impacting the community.Below are articles related to herbal medicine, nutrition, and health and wellness coaching. Thanks to Herbal Product Design and Manufacture Student and Yoga Therapy Alumna Monce Boston, MS, C-IAYT for putting this research together for our community.

A Systematic Review of the Prevalence of Herb Usage Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the United States:

“The reasons for herb usage were perse but fell into: treatment for an ailment, overall health promotion, personal belief, attitudes about medications, or familial usage.”

Gardiner, P., Whelan, J., White, L. F., Filippelli, A. C., Bharmal, N., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2013). A systematic review of the prevalence of herb usage among racial/ethnic minorities in the United States. Journal of immigrant and minority health, 15(4), 817–828.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-012-9661-zhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4401997/?report=reader

The Use of Herbal Medicine by Older Mexican Americans:

“Chamomile and mint were the two most commonly used herbs. Users of herbal medicines were more likely to be women, born in Mexico, over age 75, living alone, and experiencing some financial strain. Having arthritis, urinary incontinence, asthma, and hip fracture were also associated with an elevated use of herbal medicines, whereas heart attacks were not.”

Loera, J. A., Black, S. A., Markides, K. S., Espino, D. V., & Goodwin, J. S. (2001). The use of herbal medicine by older Mexican Americans. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 56(11), M714–M718. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/56.11.m714https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/56/11/M714/591122

Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos:

“The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos is a population-based cohort study… Variations in diet noted in this study, with additional analysis, may help explain diet-related differences in health outcomes observed in Hispanics and Latinos.”

Siega-Riz, A. M., Sotres-Alvarez, D., Ayala, G. X., Ginsberg, M., Himes, J. H., Liu, K., Loria, C. M., Mossavar-Rahmani, Y., Rock, C. L., Rodriguez, B., Gellman, M. D., & Van Horn, L. (2014). Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 99(6), 1487–1498. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.082685https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021787/

Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002–2012:

“Although the use of inpidual approaches varied across the three time points, nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements remained the most popular complementary health approach used. The use of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong increased linearly across the three time points; among these three approaches, yoga accounted for approximately 80% of the prevalence. The use of any complementary health approach also differed by selected sociodemographic characteristics. The most notable observed differences in use were by age and Hispanic or Latino origin and race.”

Clarke, T. C., Black, L. I., Stussman, B. J., Barnes, P. M., & Nahin, R. L. (2015). Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002-2012. National health statistics reports, (79), 1–16.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573565/#:~:text=Overall%20use%20of%20complementary%20health%20approaches%2C%20by%20selected%20characteristics,most%20recently%2033.2%25%20in%202012.

Health Coaching for the Underserved:

“This case report illustrates how the motivational power of coaching conversations was a modestly useful methodology in breaking through the social isolation and loneliness of street-dwelling adults with chronic health problems. It also was a useful methodology for developing capacity for accomplishing short-term goals that were self-identified. Additionally, health coaching presented an opportunity for transitioning poverty-level inpiduals from passive recipients using public health sector services to more empowered actors with first-stage awareness who initiated preventive health actions.”

Jordan,M. (2013). Health coaching for the underserved. Global advances in health and medicine, 2(3), 75–82. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.025https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833542/

Acupuncture via Telehealth: How it works and why it’s necessary?

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Introduction

In the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m often asked “how is work going?”  This exchange usually leads to the person asking me: “How can your students do acupuncture via telehealth?  You can’t needle someone through a screen.”

That statement highlights a widespread misconception of acupuncture.  Most Americans don’t realize it is but one tool in a larger medicine; most think of acupuncture as “treatment with needles.”  What else can an acupuncturist offer without their needles?  The simple answer: A lot.

What I mean to say is that, students and practitioners of acupuncture therapy are also well-versed in many other holistic healing techniques that promote general well-being, alleviate stress, and may even help prevent acute and chronic disease.

From providing customized dietary advice, to private instructions on T’ai chi and other complementary medicine techniques, your acupuncturist can offer you so much on a telemedicine visit (even when you can’t get into the office for an acupuncture session). Keep reading to learn more about these techniques and how telehealth works.

What else can an acupuncturist offer without their needles?

Part of the underlying wisdom of Traditional Chinese medicine is its focus on self-care and health promotion. Acupuncture students are educated in movement therapy such as qi gong and T’ai chi; they can impart dietary advice; lead people through breathing exercises and body awareness techniques, and some can offer herbs. Additionally, students are able to guide patients through self-applied acupressure treatments.

Qi Gong

Qi gong (alternately, qigong, or “energy work”) is a mind/body practice that integrates posture, movement, breathing, touch, sound, and focused intent or mindfulness, according to the National Qigong Association. Like yoga, hundreds of qi gong styles and practices exist. Reported qigong benefits include improvements in both mental and physical health.

T’ai Chi

With roots in ancient China, T’ai Chi is an evidence-based, movement-based traditional mind/body technique that is easy to learn and requires no special equipment. You don’t even need a lot of space to learn or practice T’ai Chi, which makes it a fantastic tool to use during a telehealth appointment with a skilled instructor.

According to Mayo Clinic and other organizations, benefits of tai chi include reduced stress, improved balance, strength, and flexibility, and even reduced blood pressure.

Dietary Advice

You may have noticed so far that acupuncture therapy and associated techniques focus on both mind and body. Dietary advice from holistic providers rests on the same foundation. Acupuncture providers can use telehealth to share dietary advice that centers on enriching a person’s physical and mental energy through nutrient-dense, sustainable, and ethical foods and eating practices (e.g., mindful eating).

Breathing Exercises

We humans intuitively know how powerful the breath is—for instance, we often sigh or take a deep breath when stressed. Thanks to decades of scientific research, we now know why deep breathing can be so powerful and calming (Russo et al, 2017). Deep breathing exercises (which are easy to teach via telemedicine) quite literally activates the part of your nervous system that helps you relax, slow your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure.

Body Awareness Techniques

From progressive muscle relaxation to yoga nidra, body awareness techniques are an excellent way to help identify and alleviate negative emotions and release stored tension in the body. Life so often pulls us out of the present moment and back to worry about the future or past. By teaching you how to become more aware of your physical body, your acupuncture therapist can also help ground you into the powerful now.

Knowledge of Herbs

Practitioners of acupuncture therapy are also trained in the long-standing tradition of herbal medicine. Via telehealth, acupuncturists are able to suggest various remedies or blends that can address specific ailments and monitor the patient’s response to these remedies over time.

Self Acupressure

I believe that each one of us is the expert of our own body. To this end, self-acupressure can be a deeply enriching way to listen and respond to your body’s needs.

Acupressure is a manual technique you can use on yourself to relax muscles, alleviate trigger points, and in the traditional Chinese medicine tradition restore the flow of life energy, moving your body toward a state of well-being.

As is true for many of the other healing techniques already discussed, acupressure is safe, low cost, and easy to do and learn (especially when given real-time feedback from a skilled provider during a telehealth appointment).

Research Supporting these Techniques

It is also important to highlight the amount of established research supporting the effectiveness of these interventions.  T’ai chi and qi gong have shown benefit in addressing some chronic pain conditions1 as well as improving health-related quality of life outcomes2.  There is also emerging evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of qi gong to ease stress and anxiety3.  Other self-care techniques and dietary advice has shown to empower patients to make healthy behavioral and lifestyle changes4.

One recent randomized controlled pilot study published in Pain Medicine (Murphy et al, 2019) even found that self-administered acupressure techniques were effective at alleviating chronic low back pain and reducing fatigue.

In my experience, these techniques often have a powerful synergistic effect on each other. That is, by utilizing them together (and in addition to other healthy lifestyle strategies) they become even more effective for the individual.

Conclusion

Both the global pandemic and the social justice movement are prompting many people to seek out health positive, health-promoting self-care techniques and information.  Now more than ever it is important to turn to practitioners that have fundamental knowledge in medicines and techniques that have persisted for thousands of years.  Medicines and techniques that have helped an untold number of people through similar times.  I can’t think of a more important time to seek out an acupuncturist via a telehealth visit.

What we are really seeing in the research is simple yet profound:

Healthy lifestyle changes are essential for promoting improved quality of life, increased lifespan, and disease prevention. It’s no wonder the World Health Organization and other professional bodies recommend them so strongly. And as we continue to learn about t’ai chi, qi gong, acupressure, and other healing techniques, I’m hopeful we’ll see them incorporated more frequently into lifestyle modification programs.

And remember: if you’re not willing nor able to go to a provider’s clinic right now, you can still learn about these techniques from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Because pandemic or not, you deserve to be empowered with tools and strategies that can support your health needs and goals.

Frequently Asked Questions about Telehealth and Virtual Acupuncture

When Does Virtual Acupuncture Make Sense?

If you only think about acupuncture therapy as “needles in the skin,” then virtual acupuncture doesn’t make much sense at all. But students and practitioners of acupuncture are also trained in a broad range of other holistic healing techniques, many of which can be taught safely and effectively in the private and individualized setting of a telehealth visit.

How does telehealth work?

Broadly speaking, telehealth is the use of electronic and digital technology, including phone or video conferencing, to connect with a medical professional or wellness provider even when you are unable to be in the same location. Telehealth may include video conferencing, phone calls, texts, emails, chats, and other means of communication. Use these to talk to or even see your provider from the comfort of your own home!

Internet connectivity is required. Telehealth may work differently depending on your provider, location, or particular service you’re utilizing.

How much does telehealth cost?

Some research has found that telehealth visits cost less money than office visits, in some cases by almost two-thirds. This can vary significantly depending on your location, insurance provider, medical provider, and type of service you’re utilizing.

When deciding if the cost of telehealth is worth the investment, be sure to consider the unique convenience it offers. Since telehealth visits can be done almost anywhere with an internet connection, you can avoid hassles such as arranging childcare, getting time off work, and commuting to and from a clinic.

What’s Virtual Acupuncture Like?

A virtual acupuncture session can be very similar to acupuncture therapy sessions you may receive in-person at a clinic—minus the specific acupuncture modality. What is left to be shared via telehealth are all the other services and techniques an acupuncture therapist can provide in a one-on-one instructional setting: Tai Chi, qi gong, breathing exercises, and more.

Interested in working with an MUIH Acupuncturist via telehealth or in office at the Natural Care Center (NCC)? Visit our website, ncc.muih.edu or email the NCC at .

Sources:

  1. Bai Z, Guan Z, Fan Y, et al. The effects of qigong for adults with chronic pain: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Chin Med 2015;43:1525–1539.
  2. Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Meditative movement therapies and health-related quality-of-life in adults: A systematic review of meta-analyses. PLoS One 2015;10:e0129181.
  3. Wang C-W, Chan C, Ho R, et al. Managing stress and anxiety through qigong exercise in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014;14:8.
  4. Harvie A, Steel A, Wardle J. Traditional Chinese Medicine Self-Care and Lifestyle Medicine Outside of Asia: A Systematic Literature Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(8):789-808. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0520

Tips to Evaluating Integrative Health Information

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Professional and Continuing Education

Trusting the Experts – 3 Tips to Evaluating Integrative Health Information

Author: Daryl Nault

If you have ever attended an educational seminar, clinical workshop, or read an editorial written by a clinical professional, you’ve likely been exposed to expert advice. More than ever, experts may also share information online through blogs, vlogs, and even social media. Policymakers and the general public also place stock in expert advice, so it can also have considerable influence on public health measures too.

Expert advice (or opinion) generally refers to evidence, information, or guidance given by someone who’s work has made them an authority in their field. Clinical experts could be academics, specialists, or practicing clinicians, who have spent a considerable amount of time studying one area of interest. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone calling themselves an expert truly meets these criteria.

So, how do you know whether a piece of so-called expert advice is worth implementing in your practice? 

When experts present valid, relevant, evidence-based information, it can be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, not all expert advice meets these criteria, so it is up to you to critically appraise the information being provided.

On the other hand, you may also find that others look to you for expert advice, and you want to be sure you’re giving valid and reliable information to them too. Luckily, the same appraisal guidelines can be broadly applied in both situations.

Whether you’re appraising or giving expert advice, your foremost concerns should be on three things: transparency, balance, and accessibility.

Transparency 

Good expert advice should be clear on what is fact, and what is simply an opinion. If this is difficult to discern, proceed cautiously. Ideally, expert advice should only rarely be based on opinion, if at all. The information or facts being claimed should be well supported by relevant and applicable scientific evidence, rather than subjective findings like testimonials. The information provided should also be accurate and verifiable. If there is any question, check out similar resources. Do they align with what is being reported? If not, consider seeking out an additional reference or two to be sure.

You want to look for resources that are clear about the reason they are presenting the information. For example, the purpose of this resource is to provide a general guideline for a clinical audience in writing and appraising expert advice. At the end of this piece, we will also invite you to join us for a more comprehensive Professional and Continuing Education course if you would like to further improve your ability to write evidence-based information as an expert in your field.

Balance 

Alternative viewpoints, limitations, and methodologies should be discussed. If the expert or website is only providing positive or negative evidence in support of their claims, important information is possibly being omitted. Clinical applications should also be considered. Providing warnings where a modality or treatment is not evidenced to work well, or caveats to seek out the advice of your medical practitioner, shows that the author understands the relationship between clinical application and research evidence.

This may go without saying, but the expert should have some authority in the field they are reporting on, and the credentials to match. No matter how expert someone is in a field though, they should never insist that their answer is the only answer available. Red flags should go up if the expert is not open to the possibility that they may be wrong, or if they expect others to follow their lead without question.

Accessibility 

The advice should be intellectually accessible for the target audience. Be aware when experts use overly technical or complex language. This could indicate poor communication skills at best, or at worst, it could be a sign that the authors are trying to obscure the details.

The evidence authors reference should also be physically accessible to the intended audience. If the evidence being cited is entirely behind a paywall or otherwise inaccessible, readers are left without the ability to cross-reference the information being conveyed. Once information is no longer verifiable, and readers can only take the author’s word at face value.

Technically, anyone can call themselves an expert and give advice. As a clinician, others may naturally look to you to be the expert. Your clinical responsibility as an expert is to share information in a way that is transparent, balanced, and accessible.

 

Establish Yourself as a Credible Resource in Integrative Health

If you are looking to hone your evidence-based writing skills, you may be interested in our online, mentor-led Scientific Writing for Integrative Health Professional and Continuing Education course. This unique course is designed to help you improve the way you communicate evidence-based research with a lay or clinical audience, to help you become a trusted, educated, and authoritative resource for others in the field of integrative health.

Communicating Evidence-Based Research: Scientific Writing for Integrative Health

Online, Self-Paced, Mentor-led Course

Translating evidence-based health information is difficult, even for experienced health practitioners. Join this comprehensive six-module course with the support of an experienced mentor, and we’ll get you started in creating evidence-based compositions that you will be proud to share with your clinical community.

LEARN MORE AND ENROLL NOW! 

 

 

References and Additional Resources:

Investigating Public trust in Expert Knowledge: Narrative, Ethics, and Engagement. Journal of bioethical inquiry14(1), 23–30. doi:10.1007/s11673-016-9767-4

Massicotte A. (2015). When to trust health information posted on the Internet. Canadian pharmacists journal : CPJ = Revue des pharmaciens du Canada : RPC148(2), 61–63. doi:10.1177/1715163515569212.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Finding and Evaluating Online Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/webresources

National Institute on Aging. Finding and Evaluating Online Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/webresources

Nault, D., Beccia, A., Ito, H., Kashdan, S., & Senders, A. (2018). Health Information Discrepancies Between Internet Media and Scientific Papers Reporting on Omega-3 Supplement Research: Comparative Analysis. Interactive journal of medical research, 7(2), e15. doi:10.2196/ijmr.8981

Sbaffi, L., & Rowley, J. (2017). Trust and Credibility in Web-Based Health Information: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Journal of medical Internet research19(6), e218. doi:10.2196/jmir.7579Camporesi, S., Vaccarella, M., & Davis, M. (2017).

Health and Wellness partnership announced between MUIH & Saldago de Saude

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Maryland University of Integrative Health and Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral announce international partnership

Laurel, Md.— Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) and Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute) announced today that they have signed an international health and wellness partnership agreement.

MUIH and Salgado Institute (Brazil) have entered into this partnership with the shared goal of working across international borders to positively impact the health and wellness of individuals and communities. Plans include collaboration on a variety of initiatives including educational programs, research, and health promotion.

Among the first collaborations was MUIH’s participation in Salgado Institute’s International Congress on Integrative Health Therapies in October 2019 (https://ihtcongress.org). The Congress provided a review of evidence-based integrative approaches to health through a program developed in collaboration with European, North and South American integrative therapy universities, institutes and professional associations. MUIH’s Marlysa Sullivan, associate professor of yoga therapy, presented her work on the role of yoga therapy in pain management. Rebecca Pille, chair of MUIH’s health and wellness coaching department, spoke about the benefits of health and wellness coaching in integrative health practices and settings.

“We are excited to begin a partnership with the Salgado Institute, and we look forward to learning from the unique expertise of Salgado’s scientists, practitioners, and educators. By sharing and combining our perspectives, we hope to enhance health and wellness practices in both North and South America,” says Marc Levin, MUIH’s president and CEO.

“It is truly a blessing to work with such an amazing institution and excellent group of professionals. We consider it a great opportunity for our students and professors to network with peers, learn and teach about integrative health therapies,” says Afonso Salgado, Salgado’s Institute founder and CEO.

About Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH)

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) is a leading academic institution focused on the study and practice of integrative health and wellness and one of the few universities in the U.S. dedicated solely to such practices. Deeply rooted in a holistic philosophy, its model for integrative health and wellness is grounded in whole-person, relationship-centered, evidence-informed care.

Since 1974, MUIH has been a values driven community educating practitioners and professionals to become future health and wellness leaders through transformative programs grounded in traditional wisdom and contemporary science. MUIH has more than 20 progressive, graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, offered on-campus and online. In the on-campus Natural Care Center and community outreach settings, MUIH provides compassionate and affordable healthcare from student interns and professional practitioners, which delivers more than 20,000 clinical treatments and consultations each year. For more information visit www.muih.edu.

About Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute)

Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute) is the largest integrative health school in Brazil and is composed by clinicians and researchers in many health-related areas sharing the same view, to promote excellence in knowledge and patient care, evidence-based information, innovative trainings and workshops in Brazil as well as overseas. Salgado Institute is the result of more than 30 years of acquired knowledge and professional expansion engagement of its founders Afonso and Nilma Salgado. For more information, please visit http://integralhealthbrazil.com.

MUIH Introduces Services at Howard County General Hospital

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MUIH for the Howard County General Hospital

Maryland University of Integrative Health’s Natural Care Center introduces a new collaboration with the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital. The expanded range of therapies will support members in the local community, including cancer patients.

“One of the most beneficial aspects of the Natural Care Center is its deep connection to the Howard County community,” said Dr. Michelle McNear, Ph.D., director of the Natural Care Center. “We’re excited to bring our integrative health services to those in need of ways to manage chronic pain and other chronic conditions such as cancer treatment.”

Services available in the center at Howard County General Hospital include:

· Acupuncture

· Clinical nutrition

· Massage therapy

For more than 40 years, the Natural Care Center at Maryland University of Integrative Health has provided powerful, meaningful, and effective healing experiences for patients and clients that arrive with a wide array of health challenges.

About Maryland University of Integrative Health

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) is a leading academic institution focused on the study and practice of integrative health and wellness and one of the few universities in the U.S. dedicated solely to such practices. Deeply rooted in a holistic philosophy, its model for integrative health and wellness is grounded in whole-person, relationship-centered, evidence-informed care.

Since 1974, MUIH has been a values driven community educating practitioners to become future health and wellness leaders through transformative programs grounded in traditional wisdom and contemporary science. MUIH has more than 20 progressive, graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, offered on-campus and online. In the on-campus Natural Care Center and community outreach settings, MUIH provides compassionate and affordable healthcare from student interns and professional practitioners, which delivers more than 20,000 clinical treatments and consultations each year.

For more information visit our website.