Background An Hao Natural Health Care is a project of the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care (ITM). The primary purpose of this unique project is to demonstrate the manner by which a highly effective integrative medicine can be achieved. Ultimately, we anticipate that this approach to utilizing a valuable range of licensed health care methods will influence the offering of services in many other locations. The project originated as a follow-up to visits at Chinese hospitals and meetings with Chinese medicine scholars during the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time, China was instituting a plan for integrating modern medicine and traditional Chinese medicine and, within the field of Chinese medicine, integrating methods such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet, and special exercises (such as qi gong). The effort initiated by ITM was greatly accelerated with the founding in 1989 of the facility called “An Hao Clinic” and its staffing in support of the work by Dr. Edythe Vickers, N.D., L.Ac., who skillfully applied integrative medicine and brought to the project a number of collaborative practitioners. The facility in Portland, Oregon where patient services are provided, has been located at 2348 NW Lovejoy since 1992 (see An Hao Clinic).
The name “An Hao” is comprised of two Chinese terms: An means peaceful (calm, still, quiet) and Hao means good (well, fine, excellent); together An Hao means “in good health” (to be well; at peace). The choice of this name, being of Chinese origin, reflects the emphasis on traditional Chinese medicine as a health care method employed in the integrative model. This particular selection of Chinese characters points to the aim of alleviating the anxiety and distress that accompanies illness or injury, and that is also a part of the adjustments to natural changes in physical condition (e.g., pregnancy, menopause, and aging).
Services: Health Care and Training An Hao Natural Health Care provides excellent health care services for its patients, with six practitioners serving thousands of Oregonians through about 150 office visits per week. The project offers training for health care professionals, especially for students and graduates of the National University of Naturopathic Medicine (NUNM). Additionally, it provides education to other health professionals and to the public through lectures, articles, and collaborative projects, drawing on the accrued clinical experience of the professionals who have worked in this unique endeavor. Practitioners of An Hao Natural Health Care, working under the direction of Dr. Vickers, also assist with another ITM project, the Immune Enhancement Project (IEP).
Integrative Medicine Model The integrative medicine model offered via An Hao Natural Health Care is based on the patient retaining primary control over the process of selecting and integrating various medical approaches. Rather than having medical professionals sit around a table trying to make sense of how each piece of treatment can interlock and thus make a plan for the patient, who then simply accepts the procedures, patients are encouraged to make use of well-trained professionals in each field of therapeutics who may work independently but who are not acting in an opposing manner. These professionals are ones who believe in the mutually valuable contributions of the different therapeutic methods. This concept for integration is entirely different from that of alternative medicine, which often purports to reject modern medicine for a claimed better alternative. Further, in the An Hao model, the usual concept of complementary medicine, where one medical approach is considered the “main” method and another is secondary and only supportive, is not accepted. Rather, each health professional provides a key element in the wholeness of the person. Each component of treatment is utilized toward the goal of overcoming a devastating health problem or gaining better health overall, reducing the need for risky procedures that may not yield a better outcome.
Medical Methods Provided at An Hao: Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Physical Therapies Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a prime example of cultural health care rather than either modern science-based medicine or alternative medicine. It is far more than a series of techniques; TCM is a way of comprehending what it means to be a whole, healthy person and an understanding of how disease enters to disrupt the healthful balance. The therapeutics of TCM are based on a philosophical and experiential background, demonstrating pathways to restore health, balance, and peacefulness. TCM has a particular worldview, a unique image of the body, a unique history of development, its own diagnostic procedures, an extensive therapeutic repertoire, and a means to integrate with modern medicine. The integrative methods used in China, especially as applied during the last sixty years, provide insights into procedures that can work here. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are two of its best known contributions.
Naturopathic medicine is an example of a medical approach relying on anatomy, physiology, and diagnosis as utilized by modern medicine, but providing valuable health care regimens and supplements that are not usually applied by the medical profession or that are applied in a different manner. Naturopathic physicians make full use of information gathered by the lab tests and the hospital procedures a patient may have undergone to help determine the structural, metabolic, hormonal, and other components of body status. Vitamins, minerals, concentrated food components (e.g., proteins, oils, antioxidants), nutraceuticals (specialized extracts from plants and animals), and herbs are used to overcome deficiencies, regulate physiology, and allow the body to make better use of its own healing mechanisms. Naturopathic doctors can order additional blood tests (and draw blood for them), can perform gynecological exams, and prescribe certain drugs, taken orally or given by injections. At the An Hao facility, the naturopathic doctors are also licensed acupuncturists who are well trained in the use of Chinese herbs.
Physical therapies are another key element of integrative health care. Physical therapies include activities that patients are directed to pursue on their own, either at home or a location with specialized equipment, and also treatments applied by a therapist (including acupuncture). Chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy are prime examples of licensed health care methods that rely on physical treatments and are accompanied by recommendations of actions the patient can pursue at home to continue their progress toward healing and relief of pain and stress.
The chiropractic approach puts special emphasis on posture, movement, and the alignment of the spinal column, hips, and ribs. Careful analysis of the body structure reveals from which point or points the overall imbalance originates. Numerous adjustment methods can then be applied to initiate corrective action, putting the body at ease and in proper working order. Massage therapies especially work the muscles, alleviating tension, improving circulation, and correcting postural distortion from muscular imbalance. Muscular tensions can cause pain, cause distress to the digestive processes, make sleep difficult, and contribute to fatigue and irritability. Massage therapists learn to find the parts of the body that will respond to pressure. In one massage form offered at An Hao, Zen Shiatsu, the massage therapy is directed along “meridians” that correspond to those utilized by acupuncturists. The massage therapists are trained in multiple techniques ranging from gentle manipulation to more intensive adjustments.
Patients participating in An Hao Natural Health Care are easily able to utilize two, three, or more methods of therapy to accompany their standard medical treatments, forming he basis for a truly integrated approach. Each practitioner is expert in their own field and has considerable knowledge of the other medical fields.