Integrative Medicine

About the Integrative Medicine Program: Free complementary therapy

Our patients receive free complementary therapy services, provided through the nonprofit San Diego Cancer Research Institute by volunteers who are licensed and certified practitioners.

Among the offerings are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Reiki
  • Craniosacral therapy
  • Energy healing
  • Quantum biofeedback
  • Qi gong
  • Nutrition support
  • Meditation groups
  • Caregiver support
  • Special classes in journaling, art, and more

Check the monthly calendar for dates and times.

Welcome from Dr. Daniel Vicario, director of the Integrative Medicine Program

Guy Doing Yoga Pose

Over the next several years I believe we will be seeing integrative medicine becoming the standard of care in most medical settings. We have dramatically advanced our knowledge in medicine, science and technology to a point where we are now able to help people recover from conditions that were considered incurable in the recent past. The challenge is that the pendulum has swung toward the medical system becoming somewhat mechanical and placing too much trust on technology, frequently forgetting the powerful wisdom of the human being. Fortunately medicine is getting back to remembering that the body has natural healing tendencies, to supporting patients’ intuition and respecting their beliefs.

Customizing therapies is extremely important. Every person is unique in many aspects, from their physiology, immunity, energy, beliefs and the environment where they have lived. As physicians, we need to remember to treat every person differently, listening to their whole story, their body and their wisdom. This training needs to start in medical school; therefore many of us participate actively in medical student training programs. The medicines we use and the recommendation for therapy that we prescribe are changing constantly. What we advise one day can drastically change the following day. However, the power of the human spirit never changes.

I believe that in the near future we will be integrating the best in medicine, science and technology, with the best in nature and the healing arts. We will be supporting people’s beliefs, intentions, intuition, their inner healing tendencies and the power of the human spirit to promote well being, even when there is no known medical cure.

What are we doing at UC San Diego and San Diego Research Institute?

At UC San Diego Health System, through the nonprofit San Diego Research Institute, we have integrative programs available to patients because we firmly believe in their effectiveness. These approaches not only make people feel better and improve their quality of life, but can also impact their response to medical therapy and very likely improve their prognosis.

Our team plans to demonstrate the crucial role that an “optimal healing environment” has on patients’ outcomes. We will record the effect that different healing arts have on patients undergoing therapy for cancer. These would include mind-body techniques, massage, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, nutrition, etc.

We are collaborating with other cancer centers and programs that are interested in researching these same issues.

Ultimately our goal is to help individual patients by coming up with optimal therapeutic methodologies, and to increase the level of awareness and compassion throughout our medical system and society.

New beliefs and weapons of the spirits

We believe in a multidisciplinary approach to wellness. In medical science we have acquired incredible knowledge on how our body, our genes, and our immune system function(s). We work with gene therapy, immunotherapy, anti-angiogenesis and new molecules. The next challenge will be to explore what the human mind itself can do as a strong ‘healing force’ to help overcome cancer.

Relaxing the mind and reducing stress are very important. Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that when a person engages in a repetitive prayer, word, sound or phrase, and passively disregards intrusive thoughts, a specific set of physiological changes ensue. There is decreased metabolism, heart rate, rate of breathing, and distinctly slower brainwaves. These changes are the opposite of those induced by stress and have been labeled the "relaxation response." In conjunction with nutrition, exercise and stress management, the relaxation response is an effective therapy in a number of diseases that include the symptoms of cancer. Complementary approaches induce the relaxation response.

Integrative medicine combines the traditional (Western) medical therapies and the CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies, in effect treating the whole person, mind, body and spirit. Scientific evidence has proven its safety and effectiveness. The term complementary medicine encompasses a very broad group of healing philosophies, diagnostic approaches and therapeutic interventions that do not belong to traditional medicine.

The Integrative Medicine Program provides the patient with a nurturing environment where they can relax their minds and bodies through visualization, meditation, prayer, acupuncture, biofeedback, craniofacial therapy, music therapy, art therapy, reiki, hypnotherapy, massage, pet therapy, qi gong, and yoga, to name just a few.

As no cancer is alike and the patients that need treatment are even more unique, cancer treatment has to become more customized. Every patient has his/her own unique balance. We specialize in an integrative oncology approach to cancer care, combining the best that medicine and science have to offer with complementary medicine. Our primary concern is the patients' overall well being.

Daniel Vicario, MD
Director, Integrative Medicine Program