The Science of Integrative Medicine

In partnership with
Professor Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program
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Course No. 1948
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Learn how simple changes in nutrition, exercise, stress management, and social support affected test subjects and can affect you.
  • numbers Examine the scientific evidence that demonstrates both the effectiveness of acupuncture and the medical conditions it has been known to help alleviate.
  • numbers Examine the phenomenon of the mind-body connection to see how you can positively influence your mind in order to improve your body.
  • numbers Discover why no herbal supplement is necessarily good" or "bad," and learn why it is so important to use supplements responsibly."
  • numbers Get suggestions on how to approach the topic of integrative medicine with your primary care physician or a specialist

Course Overview

Perhaps you’ve heard rumors about an herbal supplement that acts as the Fountain of Youth, improves your mood, and helps you lose weight. Maybe you’ve considered trying hypnosis to stop smoking, but you’ve heard it might be just a waste of money. You may be curious about how getting stuck with many sharp needles can actually alleviate pain and stress—when it seems like it should do the opposite.

If you’ve ever considered herbal supplements, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, or even a change of diet to promote better health, then you already know that the subject of what’s been called “alternative medicine” is both intriguing, offering help for conditions that might seem hopeless, and controversial, with its effectiveness touted by some and scoffed at by others.

The Science of Integrative Medicine, produced in collaboration with Mayo Clinic—widely regarded as one of the finest health institutions on the planet—provides you with 12 informative lectures on the science-based facts and historical context of commonly used integrative treatments. Delivering a foundational explanation of this wide and diverse new field of medicine, this course is designed to empower you and give you the knowledge you need to explore how to use these techniques to improve your wellness. Taught by Brent Bauer, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, this course provides you with an illuminating exploration of many genuinely beneficial treatments.

In the last two decades, as a wide array of practices have gained greater acceptance as potential forms of treatment and healing, the terms used to describe them have evolved as well. Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, was once the common name for therapies once considered “alternative” or “unorthodox.” Today, as physicians integrate more of these treatments into their medical practices, the term CAM has given way to integrative medicine.

Integrative medicine describes the integration of natural or holistic practices into the health-care paradigm to complement conventional Western medicine and promote wellness. Western medicine can accomplish incredible feats of healing, but as advanced as it is, it still doesn’t have cures for everything. Relying solely on conventional Western medicine, people often wait until they have serious health problems before seeking care—but integrative medicine includes many practices that are particularly good for preventing certain conditions and ameliorating the effects of others, making it a valuable adjunct to conventional care.

The therapies discussed in this course have been shown to help people reach health goals such as pre-surgery preparation, post-surgery recovery, and better management—and reduction—of chronic pain. The advent of integrative medicine has been revolutionizing Western medical care as doctors realize that their options for patient care can be expanded to a plethora of complementary practices that directly benefit wellness and can help alleviate, prevent, or remedy issues such as arthritis, chronic back or neck pain, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, stress, heart disease, menopause, and the common cold.

Tour the Most Common Integrative Practices

In The Science of Integrative Medicine, Dr. Bauer, of Mayo Clinic, introduces you to more than a dozen scientifically tested, integrative approaches and explains what they do and do not treat, empowering you to take your health options into your own hands. He leads you through the science and history of some of the most common practices and discusses the pros and cons of each. He also offers suggestions for when and how you might consider talking to your doctor about including these therapies in your wellness plan. Through this course, you’ll learn about:

Treatments by professionals:

  • Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles at strategic points on the body. It is commonly used to treat nausea, fibromyalgia, and many kinds of pain.
  • Hypnosis induces a trance-like state where the mind is more open to suggestion. Hypnosis may be used to help manage pain, anxiety, and tension headaches, as well as to treat addiction and change negative patterns of behavior.
  • Massage can address pain, anxiety, tension, and chronic conditions, as well as aid in pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery healing.
  • Spinal manipulation is practiced by chiropractors and physical therapists. It can be particularly helpful for lower back pain.

Treatments you can do on your own:

  • Meditation involves calming and clearing the mind. It is used to help treat anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, acute or chronic pain, and many other issues.
  • Music therapy can benefit your mental and physical health. It may help people with Alzheimer’s disease and autism, as well as depression.
  • Guided imagery involves bringing to mind a specific image or a series of memories to produce certain responses in the body. It’s used to treat headaches and some forms of pain.
  • Spirituality often involves an individual’s connection to others and a search for meaning and happiness in life. These connections have been shown to help people deal with medical illness and chronic disease.

And physical exercises:

  • Tai chi is a graceful exercise in which you move from pose to pose. It’s been shown to improve balance and flexibility.
  • Yoga often involves a series of physical postures and a focus on breathing. Yoga is commonly practiced to relieve stress, as well as to treat heart disease and depression.

In addition to teaching you about specific practices, Dr. Bauer reveals the key to getting the most out of any form of integrative medicine: a solid foundation of wellness that includes simple lifestyle changes that can lead to significant improvements in your health. For example, you’ll hear about the concept of NESS, which is based on research that demonstrates how a program involving diet, exercise, stress management, and social support can reverse the aging process on a cellular level in a test group.

The Good, The Bad, and the FDA Unapproved

Dr. Bauer provides an in-depth investigation into a number of popular myths about integrative medicine without resorting to oversimplifying or generalizing. He kicks off this exploration with a review of the positive and negative effects of herbal remedies.

A lot of the skepticism about herbal remedies comes from the fact that they are not FDA-approved. On a supplement’s packaging, you may see this: “This statement has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Dr. Bauer sheds light on what this really implies and why it may not always be cause for concern. At the same time, he cautions us against some common herbs, which, at their worst, have been known to cause death. Receiving medical guidance about herbal remedies is vital. Even commonly used herbs, such as chamomile, can cause serious harm to someone with a severe allergy.

The conclusion Dr. Bauer reaches is that when working with a doctor, most herbal supplements can be used effectively. Dr. Bauer helps you do your homework to become a well-informed and wise patient and consumer when it comes to herbal supplements, so that you can make the best decisions for your optimal health.

A Trusted Source of Information

This course is an up-to-date and authoritative exploration of integrative medicine. Dr. Bauer is a Professor of Medicine, and he has been the director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic for 15 years. His main research interest has been the scientific evaluation of complementary therapies, where his work is at the forefront of the emerging field of integrative medicine, combining the best of conventional Western medicine with the best of evidence-based complementary therapies. Dr. Bauer and Mayo Clinic—an indisputably trusted resource for medical facts—provide evidence for the effectiveness, benefits, and drawbacks of integrative therapies in a straightforward, well-organized, and thorough manner, making the benefits of each practice easy to understand and accessible to everyone.

The Science of Integrative Medicine will help you take a proactive approach to your health and wellness. As you delve deeply into integrative practices and learn the science behind how and why they work, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for why Western doctors are now evaluating and incorporating such practices into an array of tools at their disposal to help you reach and maintain wellness. At the conclusion of the course, you’ll find yourself to be a more informed decision-maker. And you’ll see that by working with your doctor to discuss the scientifically backed practices you feel comfortable with, it is possible to put together an integrative program that can positively affect your health.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    Complementary and Integrative Medicine
    Explore the history of alternative approaches to care that have evolved into integrative therapies still in use today. The discussion begins with research investigating how nutrition, exercise, stress management, and social support (NESS) positively affected men diagnosed with prostate cancer. You'll understand why some doctors may still have questions about integrative practices, while others firmly believe they are worthwhile. x
  • 2
    Making the Case for Integrative Medicine
    Review the science behind the benefits of healthy habits, including eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Discover the multitude of positive impacts these habits can have on your mind, body, and overall wellness. Get tips to easily integrate simple changes into your daily routines. x
  • 3
    Herbal Supplements
    Delve into the world of herbal supplements to understand the pros and cons of adding them to your health-care regimen. Get a handle on why no herbal supplement is necessarily good" or "bad," and learn why it is so important to use supplements responsibly, with your doctor's input and guidance." x
  • 4
    Supplements in Practice
    Take a deeper dive into some of the most common supplements, and find out which ones Dr. Bauer recommends and uses in his own practice. Understand why he'll sometimes suggest treatments even when they haven't been definitively proven to be widely effective, or have produced mixed results. x
  • 5
    Mind-Body Medicine
    Examine the phenomenon of the mind-body connection to see how you can positively influence your mind in order to improve your body. This area of research is opening the door to new ways of thinking about and approaching various healing techniques. Dr. Bauer shares the latest findings and examples. x
  • 6
    Guided Imagery, Hypnosis, and Spirituality
    Focusing your mind has been known to help alleviate pain, symptoms of illness, and side effects of medications, and even to aid in changing negative behaviors. Dr. Bauer takes you through three practices-guided imagery, hypnotherapy, and spirituality-to demonstrate how these methods can be used in conjunction with Western medicine. x
  • 7
    Practicing Meditation
    Taking the mindful approach a step further, Dr. Bauer provides you with an insightful examination of meditation. In addition to reviewing the multitude of benefits that meditation can provide as both a coping strategy and a preventive measure, Dr. Bauer walks you through a number of steps you can take to help establish a successful meditation session so you can make the most of this practice. x
  • 8
    Moving Meditation: Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong
    Often grouped together with other mindful practices, Dr. Bauer dedicates an entire lecture to moving meditation, including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. Although these methods have existed for thousands of years, the scientific benefits of integrating these practices into modern Western healing have just recently begun to emerge. Dr. Bauer reviews this research and provides examples of how these techniques could help you. x
  • 9
    Relaxation Therapies
    Superficially, relaxation therapies seem easy, but Dr. Bauer points out that to really get the maximum health benefits, you have to fully immerse yourself in these practices, and doing so can be challenging at first. He guides you through the process, noting the many mental and physical advantages that come with true relaxation. Once you've mastered it, relaxation will become second nature. x
  • 10
    Effective Acupuncture
    Does acupuncture work? is a question that's often met with controversy. Dr. Bauer discusses scientific evidence that demonstrates both the effectiveness of this technique and the medical conditions it has been known to help alleviate. He also provides valuable tips to help you prepare yourself and make the most out of each acupuncture session. x
  • 11
    Massage Therapy and Spinal Manipulation
    Many people appreciate a good massage, yet few really grasp the science behind how effectively it can help with healing. Based on ancient principals such as acupressure, Dr. Bauer illustrates how this practice is more than just a back rub and, when done properly, can have long-lasting effects that go beyond the session. x
  • 12
    Living Well
    Throughout the course, Dr. Bauer offers suggestions on how to approach the topic of integrative medicine with your doctor. He also touches on new integrative strategies that are being researched. By the end of this lecture, you'll be equipped with a variety of options for how to create a comprehensive wellness program that can positively affect your mental and physical health for years to come. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 12 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Instant Audio Includes:
  • Download 12 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 144-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 144-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested Reading
  • Photographs and illustrations
  • Bibliography

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Your professor

Brent A. Bauer

About Your Professor

Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program
Brent A. Bauer, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine, a Professor of Medicine, and the director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic, where he has been on staff for 24 years. His main research interest has been the scientific evaluation of integrative medicine therapies, which patients and consumers are using with increasing frequency. Dr. Bauer’s work is at the forefront of the...
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The Science of Integrative Medicine is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 30.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great course! I think it's fantastic that clinics like the Mayo clinic are taking such a strong interest in complementary therapies. It's great to see science catching up with ancient medical techniques by carrying out proper clinical, and much needed, trials. I really enjoyed this course. Very informative. An excellent resource to quote from if your doctor is still sceptical about certain complementary therapies, as sadly many still are, and hasn't bothered to do any research.
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not a Great Use of Time I have completed well over 100 of the Great Courses. I almost always come away feeling that the time invested in watching them was well worth while. Not so with this course. Dr. Bauer is personable and easy to listen to, and he is certainly well informed about the various aspects of supplementary treatments and activities. He does an admirable job of explaining what can be undertaken to improve one’s health, and encourages consultation with your primary health care provider in many cases. Research findings are presented to support the activities, showing the benefits of them. Unfortunately, there is a lot of repetition in his discourse, as well as in the images that are used. The course also seems to have a secondary agenda of laying accolades on the Mayo Clinic Integrative Medicine and Health unit, which isn’t particularly useful when one doesn’t live anywhere near it. That said, though, it does provide a good foundation for the ideas he presents. I recommend the course because of the breadth of information it provides, but caution the viewer that for many there may not be a strong correlation between the time spent watching and the benefits from it. As a final comment, Kanopy streaming service offers about 100 Great Courses through our library, which is how I watched this course. My compliments to The Great Courses for supporting this service!
Date published: 2019-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very accessible and motivational health informatio Much of what is on this program is very basic information; however, the presenter is upbeat in his delivery and encourages the listener to consider the interconnectedness of aspects of health
Date published: 2019-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Relevant content I have always been interested in learning more about I refractive medicine and this course did not disappoint! I learned a tremendous amount, took notes and actually tried some new things, like meditation. And it helped! I enjoyed the easy manner of Dr. Bauer. He was a great lecturer. Loved this course.
Date published: 2018-09-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not much science The bulk of this program is the author explaining why you should involve your western doctor in any integrative medicine. I haven't found many western doctors open to this. There is a much better alternative course with a great deal more science.
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from new options for healthy living This is a brief introduction to Complementary or Integrative Medicine. Basically, it’s all about creating wellness and relaxing the mind/body/spirit. If you ask me, it's short and interesting, sprinkled with practical advice. Keep in mind that it's more of a gentle introduction rather than a hefty, in-depth survey. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable 12-lecture tour. I’m not exactly a touchy-feely, spiritual kind of person, so I’m not entirely sold on a number of approaches introduced here, e.g. hypnotherapy. But I am looking to live a healthier, less stressful life. And all of these approaches to healthy living build a foundation through NESS (nutrition, exercise, stress management, social networking). That’s the ultimate focus here. While a few topics were not exactly new because I learned about them in other TGC courses, I did in fact pick up a few things along the way. What works? For me, Guided Imagery and Progressive Muscle Relaxation worked wonders. I liked that all of the therapies and interventions were noted with references to studies regarding their effectiveness (or when lacking or just showing promise). At least all of these topics provide a solid baseline for common knowledge when you read about them in the news or hear others talking about various herbs and supplements, etc. I’ll look into following up on works cited in the Bibliography. Looks comprehensive. The set was sharp and I really enjoyed the course with Dr Bauer. He’s easygoing and trustworthy. And he didn't walk around too much.
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "What's a body to do?" Summarized. My wife and I noticed early on that Dr Bauer seemed "unexercised" himself, which he explains in Section 8 as an arthritic condition. We sympathize, and and consider that he has really done the investigation as a personal, not just professional, quest. Hope the Dr continues his inquiry, as his evidence based summary findings are spot on, and I found his personal but professional style optimal for medical information retention. The sections on supplements was as complex to grasp as the current status as I know about it, and I have an informatics background. With the conundrum about everything from salt (and various food fads), Advil and Tylenol, and supplements in general (JAMA articles have indicated increased morbidity, cross- effects, problematic manufacture), "what to do"? The best advice given by Dr Bauer is that the less medications needed of any kind, the better; and basic NESS (nutrition, exercise, stress management, social support) is the best supplement. JAMA articles seem to show that older adults, and younger healthy adults (???), are the most likely gullible consumers of suspicious product; so beware, as suggested here! A personal takeaway is the "mind- body" connection. The stress reduction information was informative, especially as I'm very curious about meditation, and I currently practice Tai Chi and Qigong exercise as daily non- cardio wake- up and warm down, and "hourly movement" ritual. I didn't know of the evidence- based good results concerning guided imagery, and "spirituality". Although as a techie I've heard of biofeedback and other health improving apps, I'm happy with Dr Bauer's serious medical talk of what's known to work, and software apps that were found effective. I was personally unaware of the vast research that has confirmed the usefulness of spas, various mind- body therapies, acupuncture, message and chiropractry, various relaxation therapies. Guided imagery, art therapy, music therapy; can computer games therapy be far behind? (Yes, search it out!) Great Courses has various Tai Chi offerings that I recommend, various meditation guides in line with Dr Bauer's suggestion. There's a "Physiology and Fitness" and other offerings by Dean Hodgkin for those like me embracing "moving cardio mediation". The Integrative Medicine on-line version has direct links to Amazon for "best references". Problematic is the idea of "joyful stress", the absolute need for self- actualization and growth, and mystery. The idea that statically placid is always ideal, is something that the Buddha and Abraham Maslow both found inadequate. There is a need beyond stress reduction, and the placid implication of "healthful living", that is not comprehensively addressed here. My personal ideal is actually "good stress" associated with a great cardio workout like a great 10K race or martial arts session, or accomplishing a difficult work or life goal, and there is no bridge to that in this offering. In sum, "The Science of Integrative Medicine" delivers summary, evidential, and historic information about all the physical and mindful therapies I've been curious about (but had reservations about), as an overview and reference guide to further exploration. My son is a physician, and I will make him aware that this useful summary exists. Mayo should be happy to support efforts that progressively improve health care, and in memory of great physicians of the ages such as Hippocrates and Hua Tuo, so should we all.
Date published: 2017-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Relevant and pertinent information. Good presentation.
Date published: 2017-03-20
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