The Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care, Inc. (ITM), is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1979, incorporated in 1983, and moved to its current head office in 1988. ITM was founded by and is directed by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D.
Traditional medicine refers to ideas, experiences, and substances that have been handed down generation to generation from ancient times, where the origins are obscure but where the continuity of basic understanding has been assured by a formal structure. Among the primary traditional medical systems still active today are the Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian (Ayurvedic). ITM enriches the lives of people seeking traditional medicine knowledge and services by clarifying the nature of traditional medicine and demonstrating how it can be utilized in the modern setting.
To accomplish its goals, the Institute performs 6 basic functions:
- It operates two clinical facilities, the Immune Enhancement Project (IEP) and the An Hao Natural Health Care Clinic (An Hao). IEP is a low cost treatment center providing acupuncture, Chinese herb therapies, and Zen shiatsu primarily for patients with serious ailments (such as cancer and HIV) that can clearly benefit from effective adjunctive therapies, though all are welcome so long as they follow program protocol. IEP serves as a charitable outlet for ITM's clinical activities. An Hao is a mixed therapies clinic offering naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, Zen shiatsu, Chinese herbs, and modern medicine. It is a demonstration clinic that illustrates a potential new model for integrative health care. In addition, ITM provides consulting to other clinics that wish to follow the presentation method or the therapies that are available at these clinics. Selected students at local acupuncture colleges, particularly of the Chinese medical department of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, can get advanced training at these clinics.
- It provides numerous educational materials, primarily articles written by Subhuti Dharmananda. Currently, over 2,000 pages of such articles are in the ITM archive. Dr. Dharmananda provides free consulting to practitioners who are members of the START Group, to aid in their understanding of herbs, issues related to traditional medicine, individual patients, and practice methods.
- It conducts background research in traditional medicine, including medical journal searches in China (carried out by Dr. Fu Kezhi in Harbin) and computer searches here in the U.S.
- It provides specially designed herbal formulations (most in tablet form) for use in the ITM clinics and by practitioners who read ITM's literature. These formulas are described in the ITM book A Bag of Pearls, and belong to the overall educational and training method of ITM which is to integrate the study of Chinese medicine into the practice of Chinese medicine. A Bag of Pearls describes 200 formulas, most of them based on traditional Chinese medicine principles. ITM also maintains a pharmacy of dried extracts, following the method of herb use that is dominant in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. These dried extracts (granules) are used to make personalized formulations or formulas that are used in doses higher than suited to tablets.
- ITM supports traditional environments where traditional medicine can be preserved. As funds are available, ITM has aided Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, Native American, Central and South American groups that represent potential reservoirs of traditional medicine culture and resources. Most notably, ITM has provided funds to construct a health care clinic at the Drepung Gomang Monastic refugee camp in southern India and has helped this group of about 1,700 refugees in maintaining their traditional culture. A doctor trained in Tibet works at the clinic. ITM has also supported a licorice cultivation project in a remote area of China where the capability to develop herb cultivation is strong. Herb materials have been given to practitioners traveling to Hondurus, Guatamala, East Europe, India, and other destinations to provide traditional Chinese health care in areas of desperate need. ITM funds have aided the International Trust of Traditional Medicine in India.
- It provides information to other organizations, such as the American Botanical Council, and to magazines, news reporters, and researchers, upon request. ITM is frequently cited as a source for reliable information on herbal therapies.
ITM has 24 employees: about half are part-time health professionals (mainly acupuncturists and massage therapists); about half are full time office workers. ITM has affiliate organizations in Belgium and China.
ITM is not a school and does not offer courses, certifications, or diplomas; it does not conduct clinical or laboratory research; it is not a foundation (e.g., that might provide funding to students or others working in the field of traditional medicine).