As a component of AUB's Health 2025 Vision, the AUB Nature Conservation Center (NCC) organized the Regional Integrative Health Forum. Led by Dr. Najat Saliba, director of the NCC, and Dr. Maya Romani, head of the Health and Wellness Center at AUBMC's Department of Family Medicine, the conference attempted to tackle tough questions. The all-day forum was held under the patronage of the Minister of Public Health and the Minister of Industry.
Experts from around the world, citizens, community organizations, local government officials, policy influencers, business owners, healthcare providers, public health advocates, as well as representatives from the human services and education sectors, gathered for the forum in Bathish Auditorium on February 3rd, to discuss and bring to light the many themes and issues the region is facing in regards to the use of holistic remedies alongside modern day medicine.
Meet Our Speakers
Stephen Sagar trained in the United Kingdom and is a Full Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Medicine at McMaster University, Canada. His specialty is radiation oncology and his medical practice is as a consultant and staff member at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. His research and education interests are in integrative oncology, mind-body medicine, holistic models of healthcare, patient experience, psycho-oncology and psycho-education.
Peter Fisher is Director of Research and Consultant Physician at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) in London, England. He is a member of the World Health Organization's Expert Advisory Panel on Traditional and Complementary Medicine and helped to draft its Traditional and Complementary Medicine Strategy 2014-2023. His research work centres on responding to the problems of health care, including "effectiveness gaps", multimorbidity and polypharmacy, by integrating the best of conventional and complementary medicine. He is also Physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Prof. Michael Wink studied Biology, Chemistry and Statistics at the University of Bonn until 1977. After obtaining a PhD in Pharmaceutical Biology at Braunschweig University in 1980, he was PostDoc and assistant Professor there until 1985.His research interest range from phytochemistry of medicinal and poisonous plants, molecular pharmacology, biotechnology to studies in evolution, molecular systematics, phylogenies and genomics. Dr. M. Wink published more than 700 papers in peer reviewed journals and published several books and monographs.
The first lecture was by Dr. Sagar, who attempted to answer the question “Why Should Health Schools Embrace Integrative Health?" The lecture touched on many diverse issues tracked within the subject, including why there is a certain resistance by medical schools to accept holistic treatment, how to evaluate and alter the medical view of patients, so that instead of being seen as the disease they are viewed as a whole person, and the effects of epigenetics and fitness on a person and their well-being. His closing statement resonated with the focus on individuality, “We need a new approach beyond the traditional disease focused model, to one that is holistic. A holistic model is a whole person model, a mind-body-spirit approach which recognizes the interplay of exercise, nutrition, environment, stress, spirituality and sense of connectedness, on health. Moreover, a holistic model empowers patients and incorporates a philosophy of wellness at any stage of care."
The second lecture, led by Dr. Wink, tackled the complex topic of toxicity and safety of herbal medicines. Dr. Wink's discussion incorporated key features of plant based medicine and the history associated with herbal treatments, especially in cultures such as our own. He also addressed the many properties herbal medicine has to offer, such as antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial; along with the myriad of uses plants with such properties (and others) have had in pharmaceutics, cosmetics, fine chemicals, or more recently, nutraceutics industries. Moreover, synergistic effect among drugs was a key point in his discussion, such that, a combination of two or three drugs (ex: antibacterial and antimicrobial) is better in order to [increase efficacy and decrease] toxicity.
The third and final lecture of the day was presented by Dr. Fisher, a member of WHO's Expert Advisory Panel on Traditional and Complementary Medicine. The lecture entailed details of the strategy to be applied by the Society of Homeopaths in response to the great amount of deaths related to chemical medications as well as the costs of healthcare expenses and productivity losses in Europe. He also engaged with the fickle subject of incorporating holistic and herbal medicines into the syllabi of medical schools in the region and internationally. This was more clearly highlighted by the Q&A session following the lectures.