Integrative Medicine Goes Global
A new medical wellness clinic in Turkey will demonstrate that "integrative medicine has begun to spread all over the world," said Andrew Weil, M.D. at ceremonies in Istanbul on Oct. 24, 2013, marking the formal start of his participation in the project.
The Acibadem New Life Medical Wellness Clinic is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, in Bodrum. Appropriately, the Aegean port community of 118,000 is just a short ferry ride from the Greek island of Kos, where Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) set forth the founding principles of western medicine. "For physicians, it’s no exaggeration to say this is a sacred part of the world," said Dr. Weil. "I’m delighted that the next chapter in the evolution of integrative medicine is being written here." Bodrum also enjoys a growing reputation as a destination for health tourists.
Acibadem Health Care Group (AHCG), the largest medical facility owner and manager in Turkey, owns and will operate the 40-room clinic. It will accommodate up to 82 patients, and provide integrative medicine (IM) core therapies, including acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, yoga, and cooking classes, as well as a hamam (traditional Turkish bath), and a restaurant featuring a menu created by Dr. Weil. The clinic is expected to attract health tourists from Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, and other parts of the Middle East as well as Turkey.
Now a two-story shell with the interior under construction, the clinic is attached to the state-of-the-art Acibadem Bodrum Hospital via an enclosed bridge. "That gives us great flexibility," said Dr. Weil. "People will receive therapies and learn skills to help them manage chronic problems, but if they need it, they are literally seconds away from first-rate medical care."
Dr. Weil visited Bodrum in late October of 2013. A series of media appearances publicizing the clinic culminated in a formal announcement of his consulting role at a press conference in the famed Cirigan Palace, built by Sultan Abdülâziz in 1867 and converted to a hotel in 1989.
"The number one name in the field of integrative medicine is Dr. Andrew Weil, so he is the one we wanted to collaborate with on this project," said Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, CEO of AHCG. He said the clinic will be "beneficial for our country," and predicted more clinics will be built in Istanbul and other Turkish cities.
Ebru Aydin, M.D., will serve as the clinic’s medical director. Inspired by Dr. Weil’s medical philosophy as expressed in his books, she is now a fellow at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, Ariz., where she is gaining a deeper understanding of IM therapies. "I’m delighted that Ebru will be the physician leading this effort," said Dr. Weil.
"Along with the best, scientifically informed practices of Eastern and Western medicial traditions, we’re planning to emphasize healing traditions of Turkey, such as the hamam" Patients will also find that Dr. Weil’ s Anti-Inflammatory Diet is similar to the region’s traditional Mediterranean diet – both emphasize fish and fresh fruits and vegetables. So why teach the diet at all? "Unfortunately, American fast-food and other poor eating habits have made their way to Turkey," he said. To aid in the teaching effort, Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid has been translated to Turkish.
Is IM spreading elsewhere in the world? "It’s a complex question, because elements of IM are becoming commonplace in conventional medical settings in Europe and the Americas – yet this progress is seldom specifically attributed to IM," said Dr. Weil. "What excites me about the New Life Medical Wellness Clinic is that it represents a comprehensive approach to IM, one we’ve worked very hard to develop at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. I hope this will serve as a model for similar projects worldwide."