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Conference and Banquet Report

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Conferences, Meetings, Announcements, and Reports

Spring Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(1) page(s): 25 and 30

One hundred attentive people attended the Alternative Health: Practices and Philosophies Conference on November 13th, 1999. They were welcomed by Dr. Michael Toner, chairperson of the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department (FNES) at Queens College in Flushing, New York, by Jacqueline M. Newman, co-chairperson of the Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine as one of the conference sponsors, and by Andrea B. Mosenson, president of the FNES Alumni Association, the other sponsor.

Dr. Bruce Oran, medical director of New York's Center for Integrative Medicine, delivered the keynote address. He began by reminding the audience of the massive strides in acceptance that alternative medicine has made. He felt this type of conference was probably not possible five years ago. The talk began by answering the question: How did we get to this point in time? It was an excellent historical overview of some medical interventions. Examples such as blood letting that was once mainstream and use of vitamin B12 that was once an alternative therapy, among others. Dr. Oran chided the medical community for not looking at and supporting cures that do not make money. He went on to point out that Traditional Chinese Medicine was perhaps the oldest of medical thought and that it has been both mainstream and alternative, depending upon the times. So it was for Ayurveda, homeopathic, environmental medicine and others.

Dr. Oran gave some fascinating examples of small doses of a drug being effective for or curing diseases whereas large doses providing its symptoms. He discussed a computer program that compares medical symptoms with those induced by drugs and told the audience he and his patients are wary of excessive drug use because, as the Journal of the American Medical Association in the April 15th 1998 issue advises, adverse drug reactions are the sixth leading cause of death in hospitalized patients.

Asking: "What is common among all systems," Oran proclaimed that we have the power to heal ourselves, the importance of spiritual and lifestyle factors, the value of patient centered approaches, and sometimes need for traditional medicine. Saying that he never saw an alternative therapy cure cancer, that cancer patients are wide open for fraud, and that the internet is not a great place for any type of medicine, he concluded by pointing out that there is a need for primary care medicine and alternative therapies to work together.

Dr. Abbey Bloch, a nutrition consultant who worked at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, followed with a talk, titled Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Practice and Theory, pointing out that she is not comfortable with alternative therapies alone, and that we need to keep in mind what Hippocrates said some two thousand years ago: "Your food shall be your remedy." She spoke about the fifteen most used herbal products, none mainstream foods used for cancer treatment and the five most common medical treatments. She pointed out that real foods can be preventative as part of a regular diet when consumed at effective levels. She spoke of old medicine curing rarely, relieving suffering often, and providing comfort always. She saw new medicine wanting to cure always, to relieve symptoms often, and to only sometimes do the comforting; obviously, she saw a need for both.

Douglas S. Kalman wrapped up the before lunch presentations, discussing Popular Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know. He spoke about ergogenic aids, supplement advantages, and alternative therapies. For the ergogenic he discussed foods and pharmocologic substances. In supplements he sees need for adequate intake and used as one illustration, creatin monohydrate found in red meat. One really can not take this just in foods because initial therapeutic needs amount to twenty pounds of steak a day for a week; after that dosage is reduced and there are sets of on and off dosage amounts. Kalman spoke of avoiding carcinogenic herbs such as comfrey, borage, coltsfoot, sassafras, and others. He also discussed increased evidence supporting the value of ginseng. His talk ended with several recommendations including that participants read Herbs of Choice by Varro Tyler and his other book The Honest Herbal, among others.

After a lunch break, Letha Hadady, a private herbal practitioner, had us all stand, relax, and breathe from the toes, then sit as she expounded about how Chinese herbal practitioners diagnose using tongue and pulse and ask questions about the emotional center of the body. She gave some illustrations such as what dry tongue means and what some herbs are recommended for. Her talk concentrated on Asian approaches to strengthening internal organs so that the body can make the blood work and do its job. Some of her suggestions included taking ginger tea to get rid of congestion, radish and pepper for those who need appetite, even a Chinese herb called he shou wu to both slow digestion and prevent premature graying.

Zenaida Perez spoke about the value of detoxification and acupuncture for those who abuse alcohol and drugs. Using illustrations of the work she and others do at the Schachne Institute in Brooklyn, she shared the auricular points of the ear and ways acupuncture using some of them provides short term help for the Institute's patients. One fascinating item she pointed out was the relationship between the look of the ear points and that of an infant in the womb.

The wrap-up speaker, Dr. Jacqueline M. Newman, editor of this magazine, spoke about ten specific common fruits and ten common vegetables in a talk titled: Chinese Herbal Remedies: Rationale and Recipes. The next issues of Flavor and Fortune will detail her talk.

After the presentations, there was a tour of Tong Ren Tang, the largest herbal store in Flushing, followed by a wonderful herbal banquet at Full Ho Seafood Restaurant. The banquet foods took up to five days to prepare and every dish was delicious. The most common remark heard beyond the oohs of delight at their visual appearance was how light and tender they all were. The best comment of all was from an octagenarian whose diet sometimes causes problems. He called and asked could he hire the chef full-time? He told a conference organizer that he ate more than he normally does and felt so much better than ever before.

The Chinese Herbal Banquet, at Full Ho Seafood Restaurant on 40th Road in Flushing, included the following twelve courses; it is ictured in the hard copy of this magazine:
Boiled Conch with Rhizoma Dioscorea
Fragrant Beef Filets with Ginger, Mango, and Follum Perilla
Walnuts with Juglandis and Lycium Barbarum
Scallops with Broccoli and Wolfberries
Braised Tofu with Tiem Ma and Rhizoma Gastrodiae
Garlic Shrimp in Yellow Wine with Scallion Flowers
Boiled Chicken with Garlic, Cloud Ears, and Golden Lilies
Sauteed Pea Shoots with Mushrooms and Dictyphors Indusiata
Five Herb Whole Fish with Vegetables and Pericapium Citri Reticulata
Fried Rice with Green Peas
Red Bean, Tremella Fuciformus and Lotus Nut Soup
Fresh Fruit and Cookies

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