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The University of Alabama

UA’s Rural Health Conference to Focus on Integrative Medicine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Many people use a combination of conventional medicine and nonmainstream practices, like all-natural products or mind and body practices, for a whole person approach to their health care.

The 17th annual Rural Health Conference, hosted by the Institute for Rural Health Research at The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences, seeks to educate community members and health care providers in rural areas about how this works.

This year’s conference, which is titled “Complementary and Integrative Medicine: A Whole Person Approach to Health Care,” will be held Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28, at the Bryant Conference Center on UA’s Campus.

The conference will look at complementary care, which is nonmainstream health care used alongside conventional medicine, and examine how the two types of care work together, which is known as integrative medicine.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, who will speak about using food as a way to care for patients. Maker-Clark is the founder of the Food as Medicine Workshop series, co-director of the Culinary Medicine Project and is also clinical assistant professor and coordinator of Integrative Medical Education for the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

A graduate of the University of Arizona Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, Maker-Clark relies heavily on the use of food and medicine in her approach to healing, as well as herbs, botanicals, breathing, conventional medicines and healing practitioners in her community.

She has studied with traditional healers, midwives, herbalists and energy healers around the world and has provided lectures on the use of the anti-inflammatory diet to the medical community and the public.

“Many Alabamians use medical treatment that is not part of mainstream medicine. Some are beneficial, some are not,” said Dr. John Higginbotham, director of the Institute and associate dean of research for the College. “We wanted to have a conference to help educate community members and health care providers with regards to benefits and liabilities.”

Dr. Marion Willard “Will” Evans will present on how providers of complementary and alternative medicine are contributing to preventive care. Evans is professor and head of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University.

Dr. Bharat Aggarwal will also speak at the conference about treating disease with natural products. He is the author of “Healing Spices: How to use 50 Every Day and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease.” He is also the founding director of an Anti-Inflammation Research Institute in San Diego.

The annual Rural Health Conference is attended by health-care providers, researchers, community leaders, government officials, policymakers and representatives of faith-based organizations who hear from prominent speakers in the field and share information knowledge about rural health issues.

The registration fee is $200 per person ($35 for students) and includes breakfast and lunch. Continuing Education will be provided for some health care professionals. For more information and to register online, visit the conference website at or contact the Institute for Rural Health Research at 205/ 348-0025.

The Institute for Rural Health Research was established in 2001 and conducts research to improve health in rural Alabama. The goal is to produce research that is useful to communities, health care providers and policymakers as they work to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of health care in rural areas. The Institute also serves as a resource for community organizations, researchers and individuals working to improve the health of rural communities in Alabama.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Kim Eaton, UA media relations, 808/640-5912,
  • SOURCE: Leslie Zganjar, College of Community Health Sciences director of communications, 205/348-3079,