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Research in Integrative Medicine

Evaluating the safety and effectiveness of integrative medicine diagnostics and therapeutic approaches

Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine is recognized as a national leader in clinical research on integrative medicine diagnostics and therapeutic approaches. 


We are committed to clinical research for two very important reasons. One, we understand that the widespread consumer use of alternative therapies and holistic health care is often not based on clear guidelines for choosing treatments for specific problems. It is our goal to establish those guidelines. And two, these methods must be based on solid scientific research in order to gain the acceptance and support of physicians and conventional medical experts.


Currently Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine is involved in several areas of research.

Integrative heart care research

Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine is a national leader in integrative cardiology and is researching integrative medicine approaches to cardiovascular disease. 

Integrative heart care for the underserved 

Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine will be part of a multisystem $22.1 million grant distributed to support programs at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center and Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute. As part of this grant, the center’s staff will be supporting an integrative cardiology outreach program for underserved women, a virtual cardiac rehabilitation program and a machine learning study to predict risk and outcomes of heart disease.  

BraveNet collaborative 

The BraveNet Collaborative is a national network of integrative medicine clinical sites that collaborate on a unified goal of furthering evidence-based clinical research.  


Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine was a research site for the PRIMIER study which is one of the largest studies on the use of integrative medicine in clinical practice.

Healing touch, cardiac rehab and recovery after sternotomy

Having a major cardiovascular event can be life-altering and stressful — both physically and psychologically. Healing touch (HT) is a non-invasive, complementary approach to healing comprised of gentle touch in a relaxing environment that draws on energy fields surrounding the body to restore harmony and balance. 


This randomized, controlled study sought to examine the effects of HT on quality of life (QoL), biometric fitness, mental wellbeing and CR program attendance in post-cardiac event patients.

Supplement effects on lipids

Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine is currently researching the way a variety of supplements affect lipid panels, from berberine to fish oil.

HEART-PLAY, an NIH-sponsored cardiac rehab research

Cardiac rehab, a program that includes exercise and lifestyle change, is recommended after major cardiac events. However, participation falls with time and national compliance remains poor.  


HEART-PLAY is a trial where cardiac rehab participants are randomized to traditional approaches and another group to peer health coaches. Endpoints include long-term exercise adherence after cardiac rehab is completed.

Lifestyle intervention studies

Stress and arrhythmias:

This study is to determine if stress reduction or supplements might improve symptomatic arrhythmia burden. 


Exercise and congestive heart failure:

Patients with Class II and III heart failure are currently being enrolled in a randomized, controlled fashion to determine the benefit from a comprehensive lifestyle intervention program versus standard cardiac rehab.

Advanced lipid parameters and biomarkers

Traditional risk markers such as cholesterol levels explain only a proportion of total cardiovascular risk. There is a need for more precise understanding in the roles of different lipid species in atherosclerosis beyond low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) to improve risk assessment as well as prevent and treat CHD. We have studied advanced lipid biomarkers and the differences between lab testing. Currently we are studying ceramide levels and the effects of EPA-only fish oil.

Integrative pain management research

Currently the integrative center is involved in several projects related to better understanding and treatment of pain using an integrative model of care.

Non-pharmacological and integrative options for pain

The integrative center has worked with leading organizations, including the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, to provide evidence-based guidance documents on treatments that are recommended as a component of integrative pain care.  


Tick H, Nielsen A, Pelletier KR, Bonakdar R, Simmons S, Glick R, Ratner E, Lemmon RL, Wayne P, Zador V. Evidence-based nonpharmacologic strategies for comprehensive pain care: the Consortium Pain Task Force white paper. Explore.2018 May 1;14(3):177-211. PMID: 29735382.

Pain and metabolic disease 

Pain is often associated with several other chronic conditions including obesity. Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in conjunction with the Shiley Sports and Fitness Center completed a 12-week lifestyle change intervention. The pilot demonstrated that a comprehensive diet, activity and behavioral interventions using a whole food supplement resulted in significant weight and fat loss while also improving pain status.

Migraine and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Migraine is often associated with gastrointestinal symptoms including IBS. Probiotics have been evaluated in previous trials and shown preliminary benefit. The integrative center will be initiating a placebo-controlled trial to better evaluate the mechanism and benefit of probiotics in the setting of migraine and gut health.

Nutritional pain management

Nutrition is an often-overlooked aspect of pain management. The integrative center has developed an educational and training module to help clinicians in practice gain the tools to help them provide guidance to patients including dietary and supplement suggestions.

Immune reaction to pain therapy

Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine has worked with researchers at The Scripps Research Institute to better understand potential effect of pain medication on the immune system including potential for initiation of anti-bodies which may pose potential harm in some populations. 


Kyzer JL, McGuire M, Park H, Belz TF, Bonakdar R, Janda KD, Wenthur CJ. Anti-Opioid Antibodies in Individuals Using Chronic Opioid Therapy for Lower Back Pain. ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci. 2020 Aug 25;3(5):896-906. doi: 10.1021/acsptsci.0c00057. PMID: 33073189; PMCID: PMC7551707.