Foundation Creates Center For Alternative Medicine

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a monument to mainstream medicine and high-tech procedures, is setting up a Center for Alternative Medicine.

The Clinic is beginning to introduce its doctors to established nontraditional treatments. If a federal grant comes through, the medical institution hopes to study energy healing and whether a life force affects physical well-being.

"This is not bizarre anymore," said Joan Fox, the new center's director.

Fox, a researcher in the Clinic's cardiology department, points to a recent survey showing that two-thirds of Americans have tried alternative therapies, from acupuncture to herbal remedies to music therapy. She wants to help doctors understand the benefits and potential dangers so that they are comfortable discussing them with patients.

She held her first workshop last month, introducing about 20 cardiologists to nontraditional treatments.

"This was a major educational initiative for all of us," said Dr. Eric Topol, head of cardiovascular medicine, who took part.

Doctors sampled yoga, got five-minute massages, did a mental exercise to reduce stress and experienced energy healing.

"It was a very relaxing, kind of introspective day, the likes of which I can't remember," Topol said.

Fox said that first group was "scientifically skeptical, but they were open to learning."

Even though a high-tech cure is not always possible, Fox said, healing is. Doctors must understand the difference if they hope to connect with patients who can turn elsewhere to get the kind of care they crave.

"It's like a health-care revolution," she said, "where the public is demanding a more patient-centered relationship."

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