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 Is Integrative Medicine All About MDs? 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by . View all columns in series
Summary: Integrative Medicine, developed and edited by David Rakel, MD, makes quite an impression. The 1238 page volume, with over 100 authors, 97% either MD/DO or medical-school affiliated, marks an arrival and launching pad for that field. The text asserts a body of knowledge and is immediately a political tool for the advance of that field. I was reminded, on reviewing the book's look and feel, of a moment two decades ago when A Textbook of Natural Medicine, was published. That book allowed the re-emerging field of naturopathic medicine to claim it was modeling a new form of science-based, integrated care. What does Rakel's remarkable contribution assert about "integrative medicine" and in particular about the value of other disciplines? Here are my reflections plus Rakel's comments on the book's intent, and some next steps.

David Rakel, MD, had a copy of Integrative Medicine (Elsevier) sent to me as background for my Integrator interview with him. This weighty textbook for clinicians and medical students in conventional academic health centers tips the scales at 1238 pages, with chapters from over 100 experts. It makes an undeniable impression. Put differently: the book's drop-value (the power-implied by the look, feel and quick skim of the volume) is of the first order. The volume announces that, despite the fact that the term "integrative medicine" was coined just 14 years ago, the field has great scientific weight. "Integrative medicine" appears to have gone from definition to 60 in record-breaking time.

An antecedent to Rakel's volume

The arrival of the book reminded of a moment two decades ago in an earlier phase of the emergence of the integrative practice movement. In 1985, Joe Pizzorno, ND, kicked off a meeting of the executive team of Bastyr University (then Bastyr College) with a little show-and-tell. Pizzorno unveiled the handsome, impressive product of the first printing of a Textbook of Natural Medicine. Self-published originally by Bastyr in a 3-ring binder, update-able format, and co-edited by Pizzorno's star student, Michael Murray, ND, the Textbook marked a coming of age for naturopathic medicine.

integrative medicine, textbook
David Rakel, MD -0 a remarkable contribution to his field
Natural healthcare, naturopathic medicine, holistic medicine and the yet-to-be-coined "integrative medicine" had never seen anything like this. Over 56,000 copies of that volume, now at 2300 pages and also published by Elsevier, have since been purchased. The
ND-led project, with a broadly multidisciplinary group of writers (see table), has informed the practices of members of many disciplines. (For reference, the naturopathic profession numbers just 4500 in North America.) A consumer-oriented spin-off, the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, has now sold over 1-million copies and has been translated into 6 languages. The Textbook was the prototype of many similarly formatted later works. Examples are those of Melvin Werbach, MD, by the Institute for Functional Medicine, and content produced for numerous medical websites. Rakel's edited text may be viewed as a hybridization of the line of medical publishing which the Pizzorno/Murray Textbook pioneered.


Integration of Scientific Contributors:
Disciplines of Content Writers for Two
Influential Textbooks
on Integrative Practice

Note: These numbers are imprecise. Some contributors
have multiple degrees and are counted more than once.
The table is meant to capture a general picture
rather than
to portray precise numbers.

Textbook of
Natural Medicine



J. Pizzorno, ND
M. Murray, ND

D. Rakel, MD





















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 About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields......moreJohn Weeks
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