Updates and Plans for 2018

Hello CAM/IM members. We had a relatively productive meeting at the AAA this year, although there were few attendees to our business meeting so we do not have official minutes to share. Impressions from graduate students we have talked to have told us last year and this year that the name of the SIG is not capturing the audience we are hoping for and our conversation about a more current name is ongoing. I visited panels with CAM/IM related topics and invited them to the business meeting as well as to the brunch we hosted on Saturday morning, which gathered a few more interested people who helped us strategize future directions for keeping the group current and vibrant.

One idea that came up was to host a knowledge exchange the day before the AAA meeting next year. Some of the other SIGs have successfully hosted these and found them productive. They require a considerable amount of planning, however, so we would need some committed members who would be interested in spearheading such a major effort, as well as interest and commitment to attend from a larger group of you. If you would be interested in organizing such an event, or would like to express interest in attending should we decide to organize this, please use the contact form on our website, send an email to me or Lauren, or send a message through the group’s facebook page.

Either way, we plan to organize a panel for next year’s AAA meeting Wednesday, November 14 – Sunday, November 18 in San Jose, CA. The 2018 Annual Meeting theme is Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation. Attendees this year suggested a panel focused on asking larger questions to show how CAM and IM are relevant to many research topics and to the discipline more broadly. The theme next year aligns well with this goal. It would be nice to engage CAM/IM related topics that have potential to draw a larger audience. If anyone would like to volunteer to help organize a panel or two for the next meeting, please get in touch with us.

We are also excited to promote a panel we organized for the Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting this year in Philadelphia. If you wi

ll be attending the meeting in Philadelphia, please join us for what we expect to be a very engaging panel:

Sustainable Solutions: The Role of Complementary, Integrative, and Traditional Medicines in Addressing Contemporary Health and Social Issues (SMA) WEDNESDAY 12:00-1:20



  • MANITOWABI, Darrel (Laurentian U), MAAR, Marion (N Ontario Sch of Med), and -OMINIKA, Tim (Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory) Naandwe Miikan (The Curing Path): An Indigenous Holistic Model Addressing Opioid Addictions and Recovery
  • EAVES, Emery, PHILLIPS, Cora M., and BALDWIN, Julie A. (NAU) Traditional and Non-Pharmacologic Treatment Options for Chronic Pain and Opioid Overdose: Progress Update on the Inspire Project
  • RIOUX, Jennifer (ACIH) Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Therapy as Sustainable Solutions to Chronic Pain Syndromes
  • KUNSTADTER, Peter (Prog for HIV Prev & Treatment) Persistence of Multiple Sources of Health Care under Universal Health Insurance in Multi-Ethnic Northwestern Thailand




CAM/IM Events of Interest at AAAs

Hello CAM/IM members and followers, below is a list of events and panels you may be interested in at the AAAs this week in Washington, DC. Please note our open business meeting and an informal brunch we are hosting on Saturday. We have a limited amount of funds to provide some refreshments for the brunch and we hope it will be an opportunity for more discussion. If you have students or colleagues who are interested in CAM/IM or related topics, please invite them!

Friday, December 1st

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM (4-0435) Examining Traditional and Alternative Medicines

Stevie Merino – California State University, Long Beach; Mary Elizabeth Bird – Rutgers University; Kayla Jean Hurd – University of Notre Dame; Daria Trentini – Drake University; Kealoha Fox – Office of Hawaiian Affairs & University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine ; Szilvia Zorgo – Semmelweis University; Stevie Merino – California State University, Long Beach


10:15 AM – 10:30 AM Transforming Maternity: Exploring Selective Utilization of Prenatal HIV Testing in Lesotho

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM Phobia or Medical Food? Analyzing the nutritional quality of edible insects for the greater good

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM “We are going to change their mentality”: Assimilating Traditional Healers into Public Health in Nampula city, northern Mozambique

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM Nā Ma’i Kama’āina ma Ka ‘Oihana Mauli Ola: Understanding the Traditional Hawaiian Health Structure and Indigenous Perceptions of Imbalance as Illness

11:15 AM – 11:30 AM Bodily sensations within the context of alternative medicine: Embodied perception in the therapeutic process

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM Creating a Space to Call Their Own: Birth Workers of Color and Traditional Knowledge in Los Angeles County.

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM (4-0705) CAM/IM OPEN BUSINESS MEETING Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Integrative Medicine Group Open Business (Community) Meeting – All are welcome!

Saturday, December 2

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM Informal Brunch hosted by CAM/IM – please come and tell your students to attend! Meet at Open City Café http://www.opencitydc.com/

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM (5-0510) Understanding holistic healing: case studies of medical pluralism throughout Africa

Kristin Hedges – Grand Valley State University; Kristin Hedges – Grand Valley State University; Kristin Hedges – Grand Valley State University; David S. Turkon – Ithaca College; Ellen Block – College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University; Suzanne M. Leclerc-Madlala – US Agency for International Development; Mary J. Hallin – University of Nebraska, Omaha; Ama Boakyewa – Paradise Valley Community College; Robert J. Thornton – University of the Witwatersrand


10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Living well: Pluralistic treatment seeking in highland Lesotho

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM Traditional Healers in Mokhotlong Lesotho in the Early 1990s: Agents of Globalization and Tradition

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM Traditional healers in the African AIDS response—A lost opportunity?

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM Medical Pluralism:  Collaborating with Traditional Healers

11:15 AM – 11:30 AM Breast Cancer Management in Ghana: An Approach for Medical Pluralism

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM Medical Pluralism in Maasailand

11:45 AM – 12:00 PM Discussion


Sunday, December 3rd

(6-0100) Traditional peoples’ health in a changing political landscape: Social action, movements, and policy in Brazil

8:00 AM – 9:45 AM

Organizer(s): James Welch, Researcher, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz

Ricardo Santos, Professor, Museu Nacional/ UFRJ

Chair/Roundtable Introducer(s): James Welch, Researcher, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz

Ricardo Santos, Professor, Museu Nacional/ UFRJ

Presenter(s): Barbara Piperata, Ohio State University; Carlos Coimbra, Jr., Professor, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Esther Jean Langdon, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina; Ricardo Santos, Professor, Museu Nacional/ UFRJ

Discussant(s): James Welch, Researcher, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz & LaShandra Sullivan, Reed College

CFP: SfAA 2018, Philadelphia, PA

Hello CAM/IM members, We are looking forward to seeing those of you who will be attending the AAA meeting in DC this November. CAM/IM would like to host a brunch meeting in addition to our open business meeting on Saturday morning, December 2nd, location TBA. We will provide refreshments to try to attract graduate students and others interested in our topic in a less formal setting. Once we have decided on a location I’ll send out an update. Please forward to students who might be interested and also join us yourselves if you’ll be there!

On another note, we are organizing a panel for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA. We have a series of excellent papers lined up so far and a wonderful discussant. If you would like to be part of the panel, we have room for one more paper. The current draft of the panel abstract is below. Please send me your 100 word abstract by October 12th as submissions are due October 15th. Lauren and I look forward to continuing to build this community!

Sustainable solutions: The role of complementary, integrative, and traditional medicines in addressing contemporary health and social issues

Biomedical solutions to complex health problems are often partial, and create as many problems as they solve. This panel, sponsored by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Integrative Medicine Special Interest Group, explores the role of Complementary, Integrative, and Traditional medicine in providing sustainable, humane, and person-centered care. Papers discuss engagement in traditional medicine to address pain and opioid use on Tribal lands; Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga therapy to mitigate the need for pharmaceuticals; implementation of integrated care in the VA; and persistence of traditional and market medicines in Thailand even in the context of universal healthcare.


Letter from the Editor of JACM

Many of you might have received this letter from the editor of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) in an email already. Apologies for any duplication. I’m sharing it here in case anyone is interested and didn’t receive it. I you’re not familiar with it, JACM may be an option to explore for publishing your CAM/IM related research.

JACM Letter from the Editor


Save the Date for CAM/IM’s annual business meeting, December 1st, 2017

Save the date for CAM/IM’s annual business meeting at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, to be held this year at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC, Wednesday, November 29 – Sunday, December 3

Our business meeting is open to the public and it is a chance to discuss business and vision for our group. If you will attend the meetings, please put the business meeting on your schedule!

(4-0705) Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Integrative Medicine Group Open Business (Community) Meeting
Friday, December 1 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM

We will put together a program listing of panels, presentations, and events of potential interest to CAM/IM members in October so please keep checking back!

Article of Interest: “Traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine approaches to mental health care and psychological wellbeing in India and China”

Hello CAM/IM members, Mark Nichter shared this article that will probably be of interest to members of this group. The full text is available at the link below.

China–India Mental Health Alliance

“Traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine approaches to mental health care and psychological wellbeing in India and China”

Jagadisha Thirthalli*, Liang Zhou*, Kishore Kumar, Jie Gao, Henna Vaid, Huiming Liu, Alex Hankey, Guojun Wang, Bangalore N Gangadhar, Jing-Bao Nie, Mark Nichter


India and China face the same challenge of having too few trained psychiatric personnel to manage effectively the substantial burden of mental illness within their population. At the same time, both countries have many practitioners of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine who are a potential resource for delivery of mental health care. In our paper, part of The Lancet and Lancet Psychiatry‘s Series about the China–India Mental Health Alliance, we describe and compare types of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine in India and China. Further, we provide a systematic overview of evidence assessing the effectiveness of these alternative approaches for mental illness and discuss challenges in research. We suggest how practitioners of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine and mental health professionals might forge collaborative relationships to provide more accessible, affordable, and acceptable mental health care in India and China. A substantial proportion of individuals with mental illness use traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine, either exclusively or with biomedicine, for reasons ranging from faith and cultural congruence to accessibility, cost, and belief that these approaches are safe. Systematic reviews of the effectiveness of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine find several approaches to be promising for treatment of mental illness, but most clinical trials included in these systematic reviews have methodological limitations. Contemporary methods to establish efficacy and safety—typically through randomised controlled trials—need to be complemented by other means. The community of practice built on collaborative relationships between practitioners of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine and providers of mental health care holds promise in bridging the treatment gap in mental health care in India and China.

What I’ve Been Reading – 6/18/2017

I’m a fan of Playtypus’ (somewhat) weekly roundup and Neuroanthropology’s frequent facebook posts. In my day-to-day work as a health services researcher I don’t have a lot of space to think about complementary and integrative health or anthropology per se. I’m using my first blog post to run through some recent articles and posts that helped me re-engage with anthropological perspectives around health and healing that may be of interest to others here. This list would have been better curated, but a colleague distracted me mid-week with a question about ethnography and complexity science that took me down a less related rabbit hole.

What are your favorite places on the internet related to complementary and integrative health or that help you to think more deeply about the work you’re doing? Do any of you keep blogs? Consider contributing a post to this one! 


NPR covered a report from Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality on the potential benefits of yoga and mindfulness programs for girls in the juvenile justice system who have experienced trauma. Recently, I’ve been thinking more about military service-related and other trauma among veterans (particularly female veterans), and the U.S. Veteran’s Health Administration’s whole health model of care. (more to come in upcoming blog posts) Anthropologists have the potential to contribute (and continue contributing) good things to these efforts by studying, among other things, how these therapies are most successfully implemented and maintained, the ways in which complementary and integrative care are coopted by biomedicine, the new therapeutic lenses and processes they offer, the (different) outcomes they might encourage us to attend to.  (See Emery’s post on an NCCIH funding opportunity)


On a similar thread: Super tiny pilot study that touches on placebo, patient expectations, and hope. What grabbed my attention were the idea of patients’ self-healing power, and importance placed on specific and non-specific treatment effects (which reminds me of complexity theory). The authors argue “the unspecific effects are produced by thorough anamneses, building trust, identification and agreement of a common understanding and mutual goals, being professional, taking control of the situation, and showing empathy and respect towards the patient.”


Do you incorporate visual methods in your work? It’s always one of the top three things I want to do, but it’s not something I’ve used effectively. This article on using photography to understand how people perceive happiness makes me want to do better.


This 2013 article about a farm training program for veterans recently showed up in a feed. It reminded me of the work of fellow Veterans Health Administration anthropologist Karen Besterman-Dahan and others to use community agriculture to help veterans transition back civilian life. In the article, Karen says, “’Veterans join the military because they want to make a difference in the world […] And coming back and being able to serve their community, this is a definite way and a very life affirming way.’” Both these articles offer opportunities to think about healing, identity, connectivity, and place in new ways.


A little over a year ago, I went on a “field trip” to several military simulation centers. At one, where troops were put through battlefield simulations to prepare for deployment, staff expressed interest in studying how simulations could be used to both identify people who might be at enhanced risk for developing PTSD and for helping provide exposure therapy for people who have developed PTSD in the field. Turns out, people have already been working on this. Back in April, Rolling Stone had a piece on how virtual reality is being used in exposure therapy for returned troops. The article quotes a doctor who calls this “‘hard medicine for hard problems.'” The treatment is described as addressing cognitive and behavioral parts of trauma. However, I wonder what insights anthropologists might bring to this using CAM/IM literature? Could ritual and performance be useful concepts here? Moral trauma? What about the social parts of these experiences? Others?


Even during the horrible (horrible) Texas summers, you’ll find me taking walking breaks around the hospital to help me think through issues or expend pent up energy. New-ish research out of Stanford provides evidence for how walking can facilitate creativity. The authors suggest that “any movement away from an emotional baseline is useful for creative thinking”. What gets you going and how do you sustain it?


If you have something you’re working on or read something you’d like to share with a short write up, please consider contributing a post to our blog! We’d like this to be vibrant, collaborative space for sharing ideas and receiving feedback.

Open Call for Blog Posts

Dear CAM/IM Members,

We would like to invite you to submit entries to be posted on CAM/IM’s new website (here). Please consider writing a book review, article review, reflection on your research, or other post that would be of interest to our community.

The purpose of this website is to foster collaboration and communication among anthropologists and other researchers interested in complementary and integrative medicine, alternative medicine, or similar areas of inquiry. When considering what to write, please consider how your piece fits into this mission. We do ask that you have an academic focus. Any submissions will be moderated by the SIG Chairs.

If you are interested in taking on the role of webmaster for the SIG, please send your self-nomination.

We are planning to feature interviews with researchers who have done interesting work in this field. If you would be interested to have your work featured, please get in touch with us.

Finally, we would like to post member profiles on our website. All it takes to be featured as a member on the page is desire to be a member. the Society for Medical Anthropology is currently working on how to track membership in the special interest groups. Once that is set up, we’ll share the information with you. For now, please check out our member profiles page and send us your information to include!

Please use the contact form to get in touch with the co-chairs, Emery Eaves and Lauren Penney, if you would like more information or to volunteer for any of the items listed above. We are excited about the interest we’ve seen in the site so far and look forward to using is as a way to be more connected with SIG members!

Potential NIH Funding Opportunity

Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R21/R01)

This funding opportunity may be of interest to CAM/IM members. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is one of the centers participated in this PA. The text specific to what they are interested in is below. The full Program Announcement can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-16-261.html

NCCIH is interested in supporting research to develop and validate measures of mind and body interventions, including methodology to measure fidelity and adherence of subjects to mind and body interventions; measures to assess provider fidelity of implementation of the research protocol as part of the training process; research on measures of physical function in chronic pain populations; novel techniques for data analysis of mega data from body sensors to characterize physical function and/or participation in movement meditation therapies. Validation of less intensive sleep measures in comparison to standard validated measures in the context of chronic pain populations is also of interest, as is the development and validation of methodology or measures that will facilitate mechanistic research of mind and body interventions with a primary focus on meditative or mental aspects of these interventions. NCCIH will not support research proposing efficacy or effectiveness clinical trials with this funding opportunity.