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S03: Applications of Complex Adaptive Systems in Complementary and Integrative Medicine Research

10:45 - 12:00, Tuttle, Terrace Level

Lisa Taylor-Swanson (1), Mary Koithan (2), Iris Bell (2), Lisa Conboy (3)

(1): University of Washington, United States                                       

(2): University of Arizona, United States

(3): New England School of Acupuncture, United States



Complex adaptive systems (CAS) is a meta-theoretical framework that can be used to study open, emergent and information-exchanging phenomena, such as complementary and integrative medicine (CIM). In this symposium, we will present both theoretical and empirical work that provides value to the field that is cutting-edge in applying CAS to CIM. Lisa Taylor-Swanson will first present an overview of CAS in understanding biopsychosocial wellness and resilience and nonlinear research methods and empirical models that may be used to test the impacts of CIM interventions.  Next, Iris Bell will discuss Homeopathy, a 200-year-old system of alternative medicine that views the patient as an interconnected nonlinear network. Healing occurs from above downward, from inside out, and in reverse order of time of appearance of original symptoms. This system asserts that suppressing local symptoms will simply lead to emergence of different symptoms in other parts of the body. Mary Koithan will then present the emerging discipline of integrative nursing defined as a way of being-knowing-doing that advances the health and wellbeing of people, families, and communities by care that is person-centered and relationship-based. Embracing basic tenets of complex systems science, integrative nursing interventions provide information to the human-environmental complex system that support the person’s emerging patterns of health-wellness. Lisa Conboy will discuss Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is characterized by an intricate theoretical framework characterized by CAS properties of self-similarity, complexity, emergence, and self-organization. Dr. Conboy will then present an exemplar with preliminary results from a recently completed study of TCM treatment for the symptoms of the Complex Medical Illness, Gulf War Illness. Various modeling ideas of this rich data set, which includes Western, and TCM variables, as well as biomarkers, will be discussed.