drumAlternative Modes of Healing

After the World Health Organization established an Office for Alternative Medicine to conduct research and evaluate different approaches to healing, interest in alternative modes of healing (e.g., homeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, qi gong) has increased. We intend to open a dialogue on the inclusion of alternative modes of healing in the public health system. The Society for Shamanism, Healing, and Transformation is dedicated to sponsoring presentations on this topic at its annual conference as well as other endeavors supporting the exploration of alternative healing practices.

The following statement by Stanley Krippner gives a pertinent overview of definitions as well as guidelines for research and inquiry:

Research Methodology

In April 1995, the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) of the United States National Institutes of Health held a conference on research methodology. The charge of this conference was to evaluate research needs in the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and several working groups were created to produce consensus statements on a variety of essential topics. The panel on definition and description accepted a dual charge: To establish a definition of the field of complementary and alternative medicine for purposes of identification and research; to identify factors critical to a thorough and unbiased description of CAM systems, one that would be applicable to both quantitative and qualitative research (O'Connor, 1995).

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

The panel proposed a definition of CAM. A "complimentary" healing system (e.g., massage) can be used as an adjunct to allopathic biomedicine while an "alternative" healing system is difficult to combine with allopathy because it is based on different assumptions about the cause and treatment of disease and illness (e.g., homeopathy):

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and the domain of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed. (O'Connor et al., 1997)

List of Parameters


The second charge of the panel was to establish a list of parameters for obtaining thorough descriptions of CAM systems. The list was constructed on 14 categories first conceptualized by Hufford (1995):

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Lexion
What are the specialized terms in the system?
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Taxonomy
What classes of health and sickness does the system recognize and address?
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Espistemology
How was the body of knowledge derived?
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Theories
What are the key mechanisms understood to be?
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Goals for Interventions
What are the primary goals of the system?
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Outcome Measures
What constitutes a successful intervention?
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Social Organization
Who uses and who practices the system?
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Specific Activities
What do the practitioners do? What do they use?
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Responsibilities
What are the responsibilities of the practitioners, patients, families and community members?
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Scope
How extensive are the system's applications?
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Analysis of Benefits and Barriers
What are the risks and costs of the system?
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Views of Suffering and Death
How does the system view suffering and death?
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Comparison and Interaction
with Dominant System
How does this system interact with the dominant system?
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Evaluation
Are there data available that demonstrate the efficacy of the healing system? What methods are appropriate for investigating the system?

Further Information

For further information, especailly the Annual International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing, on Labor Day weekend, at the Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, California, click CONTACT and/or ANNUAL CONFERENCE.

Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze

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“Shamans play an important role in society today, by removing imbalances and restoring the connection between the sacred and the secular. They continue to ritualize the process of transformation.”
Ruth-Inge Heinze

Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze passed away July 20, 2007

mongolian shaman

The Annual Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing was founded in 1984 by Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze.