Marc Miccozi, MD on His Spa-Biz Course and the Role of the Spa in CAM Integration

Summary: Marc Micozzi, MD,PhD, convened an early federal exploration of complementary and integrative medicine, wrote the first academic textbook on complementary and integrative medicine, worked with Dr. Koop on his website (may it rest), and ran an academic integrative medicine program. Lately he has been thinking outside of mainstream delivery, specifically in the spa/wellness zone. He notified the Integrator of a relationship he has teaching in an online certification program through UC Irvine’s School of Business. I invited his direct comment on the spa field. Here is Micozzi’s commentary, and some information about the program.

wellness, CAM, integration, spa

Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD

Big changes, as is said, happen through individual steps. A cultural shift toward wellness would presumably be marked by an uptake of grassroots practices into institutions which, by their nature, tend to conserve old ways of doing things, for better and for worse.

We marked one such step on that change continuum when the University of
one of the top three hospitality certification programs in the world, decided to add content on integrating complementary and alternative medicine into a resort environment. The online course, offered through the UC-Irvine School of Business from June 23-August 8 will be taught by Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD. The title is “Integrating the Business of Wellness into Your Spa.” (Apologies to all for this very late notice. Hopefully it will be offered again.)

CAM, spa, Micozzi

Sponsoring a course on CAM in Spa business

Micozzi is well-known in this field. He convened an early federal exploration of
complementary and integrative medicine through his role as founding director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, wrote the first academic
textbook on complementary and integrative medicine
, had a leadership role with former Surgeon General Everett Koop on his website, and has run an academic
integrative medicine program.

Micozzi – a medical anthropologist – wonders whether “integration” will be best forged through mainstream academic and medical delivery channels. He sent the Integrator a note which included the following:

“I think the truly new ideas and models of
health and wellness are coming out of the business
schools insofar as we have a dysfunctional, non-sustainable, irrational
healthcare system using up 18% of our
The medical and public health schools have had chances to act as ‘think tanks’ for genuine change but have too many vested
interests in the status quo. And the politicians who
talk about healthcare reform (dating back to 1992 now) have been and continue to be ill-informed as to the real opportunities to have affordable, effective, healthful,
rational, safe and sustainable healthcare. As often throughout US history, in
our economic system, meaningful change will only follow the public voting with
their feet and their pocketbooks, and a ‘healing crisis’ with
the ultimate bankruptcy of the current healthcare system. Fortunately for all
of us, the alternatives are already out there.”

Micozzi then recommended a text on this spa industry co-edited by his colleague, Gerry Bodeker, entitled Understanding the Global Spa Industry.
Bodeker, who holds faculty appointments at Columbia Unversity School of
Medicine and in public health at Oxford University, is editor of WHO’s Global Atlas of Traditional, Complementary & Alternative Medicine.
I asked Micozzi for any additional thoughts. Here are his remarks.


Spa Facilities for Health and Wellness Services

by Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD

The US
healthcare system is in crisis and does not appear to be sustainable.
Fortunately, alternative approaches to much of health and wellness are

Presently, three-quarters
of Americans use health services now labeled as “complementary and alternative
medicine” (CAM) for health and wellness.
Americans now pay for
CAM services primarily out-of- pocket. These
now exceed total
out-of-pocket charges for all outpatient mainstream health services.

“CAM will do better
natural environments,
resorts, spas than
in the
hospital-based model.”

Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD

CAM services in the US are usually
available only in an outpatient (ambulatory care) setting in healthcare
facilities. This setting provides
only limited potential for the full therapeutic benefits of CAM.

Many people would
benefit from the application of CAM therapies
and protocols
(‘a cure’) outside
of healthcare facilities and in a more healthful environment.

CAM care can be provided in more healthful
environments and at lower costs than in healthcare facilities while providing
vastly enhanced levels of hospitality.

Spa Facilities are
ideal settings for providing many CAM health
and wellness services together with the benefits of a restful, stress-free,
relaxing and healthy environment

Historically, much of
today’s CAM may be thought of as natural
medicine, or ‘nature cures.’ There is a great deal of now largely forgotten
historical evidence about the benefits of ‘nature cure’ during the late 1700’s,
1800’s and early 1900’s in the United

The hidden or forgotten
history of American medicine is highly relevant to fully understanding the
potential benefits of CAM and natural healing

There is a tremendous
opportunity to integrate the historically proven benefits of “nature cure” with
contemporary CAM therapies in Spas.


spa industry

Text recommended by Micozzi on the spa industry

A Side Note: One of my first, close colleagues in this field, Cathy Rogers, ND, introduced me to the spa and water-cure movements of the mid-to-late 19th century. Interestingly, the water-cure retreat was not only an alternative to the poisonous heroic measures of the conventional medicine of the time, it was also a place of significant empowerment and identity development for women in that era. (A fascinating text is Susan Cayleff’s Wash and Be Healed: The Water Cure Movement and Women’s Health.)

Rogers who was the founding academic dean at Bastyr University and later the second president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians,has moved out of the institutions in a trajectory not unlike that which Micozzi suggests for CAM. She founded and operates the Chico Water Cure Spa on the shores of Puget Sound in the small town of Chico on the Olympic Peninsula. I can personally attest that Rogers is proving the Micozzi thesis that the spa environment is a good fit for complementary healthcare practices.

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Written by John Weeks

Explore Wellness in 2021