Some Notes on Joyce K. Anastasi, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., L.Ac.

Stephen Barrett, MD

In February 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced that it was assembling a committee to identify major scientific and policy issues in "complementary and alternative medicine" ("CAM") research, regulation, training, credentialing and "integration with conventional medicine." As part of this process, it appointed 17 people to prepare a report. Here are IOM's biographical sketch of Dr. Anastasi and my comments about her current activities.

IOM Description (2003): Joyce K. Anastasi, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., L.Ac. is the Helen F. Pettit Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing at Columbia University School of Nursing, and Director of both the Center for AIDS Research, and the Integrative Therapies in Primary Care Subspecialty Program. She also maintains a private acupuncture practice and received her degree in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture from the New York College of Wholistic Health, Education and Research. She holds a PhD in Nursing from Adelphi University, as well as a MA in Nursing from New York University. Dr. Anastasi has written several articles on symptom management and CAM therapies in HIV/AIDS and has been awarded many research grants including one from NCCAM titled, Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Randomized Controlled Trial for Chronic Diarrhea in Persons with HIV.

My Comments (Posted on January 15, 2005)

The most detailed information I could find about Dr. Anastasi's beliefs appears in a magazine article posted on the Nursing Spectrum Web site:

Acupuncture has been practiced for more than 2,000 years. It involves inserting very fine needles into specific points on the body to reduce pain and produce balance in order to create physiologic changes. The concept of Qi is the central focus of acupuncture. Qi is a vital life force that moves through energy pathways called channels. Acupuncture points are selected for stimulation on the basis that when the flow of Qi is blocked, imbalance can result in pain and dysfunction. Thus acupuncture can restore the balanced flow of Qi and promote health. . . .

As an acupuncturist, I assess the patient by making a tongue diagnosis, and pulse diagnosis. The tongue provides a geographic map of the organ systems and the pulse provides important information about specific organ networks as they relate to Chinese medicine. Specific information about each patients’ excess or deficiency condition(s) and areas of imbalance is identified. Next, a TCM diagnosis and treatment plan is made. I identify and record the necessary acupuncture points to stimulate and the techniques and methods that will be implemented during the session.

The diagnostic process used by TCM practitioners does not correspond to the body of basic knowledge related to anatomy and physiology that has been widely accepted by the scientific community. Pulse-taking involves checking six pulses on each wrist that are said to correlate with body organs or functions to determine which channels ("meridians") are "deficient" in "Qi." Tongue diagnosis posulates that body organs (real and imaginary) correspond to locations on the tongue. The resultant diagnoses are faciful and make about as much sense as saying that the person is suffering from an infestation of ghosts.

In addition to TCM, Anastasi's graduate program includes promotional teachings of ayurveda, homeopathy, herbology, naturopathy, and manual therapies. These observations make it clear that she advocates a variety of unscientific methods.

Overview of IOM "CAM" Committee

This article was posted on January 15, 2005.

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