September 24, 2001
Emory receives $5.7M for alternative medicine center
By Janet Christenberry
With the help of $5.7 million from the National Institutes of Health,
a new center specifically designed to investigate complementary and alternative
treatments in neurodegenerative diseases is under way at Emory.
The Center for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
in Neuro-degenerative Diseases will study promising interventions that
complement traditional medical approaches. The NIH grants, awarded through
the National Center for Complementary
Emory has been selected as one of 15 CAM centers in the United
States, said Mahlon DeLong, the centers principal investigator
and chair of neurology. Our center focuses on neurodegenerative
disorders, such as Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease.
The goal of the center is to provide the resources necessary for the
rigorous scientific investigation of CAM in order to examine the potential
efficacy, effectiveness, safety and validity of alternative practices,
as well as the psychological or physiological mechanisms underlying these
According to a 1998 Stanford University National Survey, 69 percent of
Americans have turned to alternative therapies to treat a variety of health
problems. In addition, Ameri-cans spent more than $27 billion on these
therapies in 1997, exceeding out-of-pocket spending for all U.S. hospitalizations,
according to NCCAM.
Unfortunately, little has been done to determine whether these
alternative approaches really work, DeLong said.
The center currently encompasses three studies or individual research
projects. These studies include the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic
stimulation to relieve depression associated with Parkinsons disease;
the use of Valerian root to treat sleep disturbances in Parkinsons
disease; and the effect of the Chinese mind-body modalities of Tai Chi
and Qi Gong on motor disabilities associated with Parkinsons disease.
The repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation study is already under
way, and the other two studies should begin in the coming months.
Charles Epstein, associate professor of neurology, heads the magnetic
stimulation study, with DeLong as co-principal investigator. Donald Bliwise,
associate professor of neurology, is the principal investigator of the
Valerian root and sleep study, with David Rye, associate professor of
neurology, and Michael Decker, instructor in neurology, as the co-principal
Associate Professor Jorge Juncos in neurology leads the Chinese exercise
modalities trials, with Steven Wolf, professor of rehabilitation medicine,
as co-principal investigator. Wolf also serves as co-director for the
Complementary and alternative medicine covers a broad range of
healing philosophies, approaches and therapies, Wolf said. Were
finding that more and more patients are seeking this type of treatment.
Were also finding more and more doctors are recommending alternative
therapies to their patients.
In fact, as indicated in a recent survey of 3,200 physicians conducted
by Health Products Research Inc., 50 percent of the physicians surveyed
expected to begin using or to increase their use of homeopathic and holistic
treatments within the next year.
CAM treatments may be used alone as an alternative to conventional
therapies, DeLong said. They can also be used to supplement
conventional, mainstream therapies in what is referred to as a complementary
or an integrative approach.
The centers interdisciplinary team includes personnel and resources
at the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health and the Center
for Human Movement Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
For more information on CAM, call administrator Rebecca Portman at 404-727-3251. The center has postdoctoral fellowships available, as well as funding for pilot/feasibility studies, for those interested in CAM regarding neurodegenerative disease.