Models for the study of whole systems

Iris R. Bell, Mary S Koithan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article summarizes a network and complex systems science model for research on whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. The holistic concepts of networks and nonlinear dynamical complex systems are well matched to the global and interactive perspectives of whole systems of CAM, whereas the reductionistic science model is well matched to the isolated local organ, cell, and molecular mechanistic perspectives of pharmaceutically based biomedicine. Whole systems of CAM are not drugs with specific actions. The diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of whole systems of CAM produce effects that involve global and patterned shifts across multiple subsystems of the person as a whole. For homeopathy, several characteristics of complex systems, including the probabilistic nature of attractor patterns, variable sensitivity of complex systems to initial conditions, and emergent behaviors in the evolution of a system in its full environmental context over time, could help account for the mixed basic science and controlled clinical trial research findings, in contrast with the consistently positive outcomes of observational studies in the literature. Application of theories and methods from complex systems and network science can open a new era of advances in understanding factors that lead to good versus poor individual global outcome patterns and to rational triage of patients to one type of care over another. The growing reliance on complex systems thinking and systems biology for cancer research affords a unique opportunity to bridge between the CAM and conventional medical worlds with some common language and conceptual models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-307
Number of pages15
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006

Fingerprint

Complementary Therapies
Systems Analysis
Homeopathy
Research
Systems Biology
Triage
Chinese Traditional Medicine
Controlled Clinical Trials
Observational Studies
Language
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)

Keywords

  • Chaos theory
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Complex systems
  • Global and local patterns
  • Homeopathy
  • Network science
  • Systems biology
  • Whole systems research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Models for the study of whole systems. / Bell, Iris R.; Koithan, Mary S.

In: Integrative Cancer Therapies, Vol. 5, No. 4, 12.2006, p. 293-307.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bell, Iris R. ; Koithan, Mary S. / Models for the study of whole systems. In: Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2006 ; Vol. 5, No. 4. pp. 293-307.
@article{3cc3595205cd4805a980473379c164a8,
title = "Models for the study of whole systems",
abstract = "This article summarizes a network and complex systems science model for research on whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. The holistic concepts of networks and nonlinear dynamical complex systems are well matched to the global and interactive perspectives of whole systems of CAM, whereas the reductionistic science model is well matched to the isolated local organ, cell, and molecular mechanistic perspectives of pharmaceutically based biomedicine. Whole systems of CAM are not drugs with specific actions. The diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of whole systems of CAM produce effects that involve global and patterned shifts across multiple subsystems of the person as a whole. For homeopathy, several characteristics of complex systems, including the probabilistic nature of attractor patterns, variable sensitivity of complex systems to initial conditions, and emergent behaviors in the evolution of a system in its full environmental context over time, could help account for the mixed basic science and controlled clinical trial research findings, in contrast with the consistently positive outcomes of observational studies in the literature. Application of theories and methods from complex systems and network science can open a new era of advances in understanding factors that lead to good versus poor individual global outcome patterns and to rational triage of patients to one type of care over another. The growing reliance on complex systems thinking and systems biology for cancer research affords a unique opportunity to bridge between the CAM and conventional medical worlds with some common language and conceptual models.",
keywords = "Chaos theory, Complementary and alternative medicine, Complex systems, Global and local patterns, Homeopathy, Network science, Systems biology, Whole systems research",
author = "Bell, {Iris R.} and Koithan, {Mary S}",
year = "2006",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1177/1534735406295293",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "5",
pages = "293--307",
journal = "Integrative Cancer Therapies",
issn = "1534-7354",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Models for the study of whole systems

AU - Bell, Iris R.

AU - Koithan, Mary S

PY - 2006/12

Y1 - 2006/12

N2 - This article summarizes a network and complex systems science model for research on whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. The holistic concepts of networks and nonlinear dynamical complex systems are well matched to the global and interactive perspectives of whole systems of CAM, whereas the reductionistic science model is well matched to the isolated local organ, cell, and molecular mechanistic perspectives of pharmaceutically based biomedicine. Whole systems of CAM are not drugs with specific actions. The diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of whole systems of CAM produce effects that involve global and patterned shifts across multiple subsystems of the person as a whole. For homeopathy, several characteristics of complex systems, including the probabilistic nature of attractor patterns, variable sensitivity of complex systems to initial conditions, and emergent behaviors in the evolution of a system in its full environmental context over time, could help account for the mixed basic science and controlled clinical trial research findings, in contrast with the consistently positive outcomes of observational studies in the literature. Application of theories and methods from complex systems and network science can open a new era of advances in understanding factors that lead to good versus poor individual global outcome patterns and to rational triage of patients to one type of care over another. The growing reliance on complex systems thinking and systems biology for cancer research affords a unique opportunity to bridge between the CAM and conventional medical worlds with some common language and conceptual models.

AB - This article summarizes a network and complex systems science model for research on whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) such as homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. The holistic concepts of networks and nonlinear dynamical complex systems are well matched to the global and interactive perspectives of whole systems of CAM, whereas the reductionistic science model is well matched to the isolated local organ, cell, and molecular mechanistic perspectives of pharmaceutically based biomedicine. Whole systems of CAM are not drugs with specific actions. The diagnostic and therapeutic approaches of whole systems of CAM produce effects that involve global and patterned shifts across multiple subsystems of the person as a whole. For homeopathy, several characteristics of complex systems, including the probabilistic nature of attractor patterns, variable sensitivity of complex systems to initial conditions, and emergent behaviors in the evolution of a system in its full environmental context over time, could help account for the mixed basic science and controlled clinical trial research findings, in contrast with the consistently positive outcomes of observational studies in the literature. Application of theories and methods from complex systems and network science can open a new era of advances in understanding factors that lead to good versus poor individual global outcome patterns and to rational triage of patients to one type of care over another. The growing reliance on complex systems thinking and systems biology for cancer research affords a unique opportunity to bridge between the CAM and conventional medical worlds with some common language and conceptual models.

KW - Chaos theory

KW - Complementary and alternative medicine

KW - Complex systems

KW - Global and local patterns

KW - Homeopathy

KW - Network science

KW - Systems biology

KW - Whole systems research

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33750862935&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33750862935&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/1534735406295293

DO - 10.1177/1534735406295293

M3 - Article

C2 - 17101758

AN - SCOPUS:33750862935

VL - 5

SP - 293

EP - 307

JO - Integrative Cancer Therapies

JF - Integrative Cancer Therapies

SN - 1534-7354

IS - 4

ER -