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TODAY news for Thursday, January 28, 2008

Loma Linda University Children's Hospital news

Wholistic medicine clinic offers alternative treatment modalities for pediatric patients

Pejman Katiraei, DO, pauses near the entrance to LLU Children�s Hospital. He is a specialist in the field of complementary and alternative medicine, and founded the Pediatric Wholistic Medicine Clinic.
Pejman Katiraei, DO, pauses near the entrance to LLU Children’s Hospital. He is a specialist in the field of complementary and alternative medicine, and founded the Pediatric Wholistic Medicine Clinic.
What role do ancient healing modalities from China and India play in helping children recover from disease in today’s technologically driven medical environment?

At the recently opened pediatric wholistic medicine clinic in Loma Linda, they play a very strong supporting role.

The clinic, which is located at 11370 Anderson Street, Suite B-100, is the brainchild of Pejman Katiraei, DO, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who completed his pediatrics residency at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and serves as an instructor in pediatrics at the LLU School of Medicine.

During his residency at Children’s Hospital, Dr. K, as his youthful patients call him, developed an interest in what are commonly known as alternative/ complementary or integrative medical modalities.

“There were times when some of the most complicated and severe cases we were attempting to treat just were not responding fully to the very best and most advanced conventional Western medicine modalities,” he reflects. “We were forced to tell certain families that although we were trying our best, there was nothing more that we could do. That was when I started questioning the limitations of our Western medicine and started looking for other treatment options.”

Dr. Katiraei confesses that as a physician, he felt very powerless in such situations; yet those painful experiences proved to be the impetus for launching his quest into alternative treatment modalities.

“The more I investigated the area,” he says, “the more I was drawn to it. With the permission of my attending staff, I started offering some safe modalities to our sickest patients. Although we will never know if there was any true and scientific difference made, there were times when I had difficulty ignoring some of the results I was seeing.”

Dr. Katiraei—who received his graduate degree from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona and his bachelor of science in biology from UCLA—does not limit his practice to alternative medicine, but offers it in addition to Western medical practices for certain diseases and conditions. “Our first and foremost responsibility is to safely integrate these complementary and alternative modalities into our current convention of medicine in order to support our goal of providing the most effective care to our patients,” he says.

To achieve a balance between Western and ancient healing modalities, Dr. K prescribes herbals and supplements for some patients and antibiotics for others. He may refer someone to a licensed practitioner of the traditional Chinese remedies of acupuncture and acupressure, while sending someone else for osteopathic manipulations. “In certain circumstances, I use relaxation techniques and guided imagery to balance the autonomic nervous system for some of my patients,” he notes. “These modalities activate the mind-body connection. Too often, Western medicine is so focused on the physical and chemical effects of disease that it doesn’t give enough credit to the mind and its role.”

Despite his interest in non-Western modalities, Dr. Katiraei is careful to distinguish between the legitimate medical application of non-Western treatments and the spurious practices of others within the alternative medicine movement.   

“We spell wholistic with a ‘w’ to distinguish it from some of the esoteric spitirual practices sometimes associated with holistic health,” he says. “There are some potentially dangerous modalities in the field.” When pressed for an explanation, he says that some practices have not been proven to have value in the treatment of disease, and others may actually cause harm, especially when taken in context with certain prescription medications. 

“There are many quacks and false promises,” he notes. “Some are simply interested in making money. Others may have good intentions, but misunderstand the potential of a therapy and start implicating its use for diseases it was never intended to alleviate. It is our responsibility to make sure our public is protected.”

He refers readers to websites of reputable organizations—such as the Alternative Medicine Center of the Mayo Clinic and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health—for reliable, scientifically verified information on the efficacy of alternative regimens.

Dr. Katiraei is equally cautious about another area of alternative medicine that often draws criticism from a variety of sources for its use of esoteric spirituality as an alleged healing agent. “Some of these things are completely unacceptable in a Judeo-Christian context,” he observes.

 Based on his spiritual groundings in Judaism and some study of Christianity, Dr. Katiraei believes that it is important to take into consideration the warnings that certain religions provide and leave certain modalities alone. “It’s important to clearly divide dangerous or questionable practices from the potentially beneficial modalities,” he notes. He quickly adds that he does not practice any form of “voodoo medicine” and strongly advises his patients to avoid it. 

  What he does endorse are laboratory-tested modalities that have proven to be potent new allies in the quest for wellness and health. And that, he explains, is one of the reasons he valued his associations with Loma Linda University. “It is very important,” he maintains, “to be able to work in a University setting to give a strong academic perspective to the complementary and alternative medicine field.

“I believe there is an enormous area of untapped potential in the complementary and alternative areas of medicine,” Dr. Katiraei concludes. “Perhaps through these modalities, we can offer our patients new options for dealing with diseases and situations for which ‘there is nothing else we can do’ just isn’t a satisfactory answer.”

Readers who wish to schedule an appointment with Dr. Katiraei may contact the pediatric wholistic medicine clinic at (909) 558-2828 or e-mail <pkatiraei@llu.edu>.

By James Ponder

TODAY news for Thursday, January 28, 2008