To the editor: We take umbrage at Michael Hiltzik's column challenging the Samueli family's $200-million donation to UC Irvine for integrative medicine. Hiltzik is concerned that the donation will "integrate quackery" into the curriculum and "tar" the reputation of the medical school. ("A $200-million donation threatens to tar UC Irvine's medical school as a haven for quacks," Sept. 22)
"Quackery" refers to dishonest practices performed by those who pretend to have special knowledge and skill in some field. In contrast, integrative medicine, or IM, is defined as healing-oriented medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the entire patient and body systems, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all therapeutic and lifestyle approaches to achieve optimal health and healing.
With more than 6,000 randomized controlled trials on integrative medicine listed on the website of the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the science supporting IM continues to grow.
These studies have yielded robust enough results that medical societies include IM in clinical guidelines. For example, the American Heart Assn. states that meditation "may be considered a reasonable adjunct to guideline-directed cardiovascular risk reduction," and the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture and mind-body approaches for low back pain.
We believe we have an obligation to help our patients be as healthy as possible and think it is important to advance education and science in integrative medicine.
Andrew Weil, MD, Tucson
Victoria Maizes, MD, Tucson
Ann Marie Chiasson, MD, Tucson
Hilary McClafferty, MD, Tucson
Marvin Singh, MD, Del Mar
Dr. Weil is founder of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, where Drs. Maizes, Chiasson and McClafferty serve as faculty members and directors. Dr. Singh is a 2017 graduating fellow at the center.