Aetna is pleased to celebrate the African American men and women who have followed their passion for wellness in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

In this 32nd annual Aetna African American History Calendar, you will meet 12 extraordinary individuals who understand the importance of treating the whole body. They do this by taking the time necessary to understand the mind, body and spirit of the person they are treating.

Healthful lifestyles call for healthful alternatives

We live in a time where there are many alternatives. Health care is no exception. While alternative medicine therapies have been practiced around the world for centuries, their use has become more prevalent in the United States, especially over the last three decades.

Read amazing stories about how:

  • laughter and art therapy can stimulate minds
  • yoga can help find balance and meaning in life
  • aromatherapy can help ease anxieties
  • herbal remedies can temper cold symptoms
  • chiropractic medicine can help manage pain and heal
  • homeopathic remedies can treat insect bites
  • meditation can help manage stress

The individuals featured believe in their work because they have tried the therapies and remedies. They, too, were looking for cures to heal their own ailments from anxiety to addictions, from sports injuries to skin rashes.

By integrating modern medicine with alternative medicine, we can help people live smarter, healthier and happier.

A holistic approach to health and wellness

Alternative medical therapies have a long, rich history that spans centuries in cultures and countries around the world. Recognizing the need for a holistic approach to health and wellness, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has been used to balance and integrate with mainstream medicine.

Some of these practices include herbal remedies, aromatherapy, yoga, Pilates, prayer, meditation, chiropractic and acupuncture. Therapies such as these can be integrated with allopathic medicine to provide optimum care for individuals.

Evidence continues to emerge through national studies led by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, formerly the Office of Alternative Medicine, which was first established in 1992, regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of many of these therapies. While positive effects of some of the therapies cannot be explained, practitioners continue to present positive experiences from their patients.

The practice of wellness has to start at an early age — and it should be a family affair. Good dietary practices, mindfulness, meditation, prayer and physical activity can start early in the home. This will help to reinforce the need for healthful practices throughout the life cycle.

It is especially important to teach young children why these practices are important and valuable to the human body. By understanding the benefits of good choices early on, our youth will be able to deal better with peer pressure later on. Individuals at various life stages can benefit from several simple CAM practices.

For infants, it is important to consider breastfeeding and the late introduction of appropriately textured whole foods. The focus on whole foods — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, etc. — versus processed foods will help train the child to enjoy, select and seek healthful foods.

Throughout life, whole foods should be coupled with good mental health practices of mindfulness, meditation, massage, music, art, dance therapies, physical activity (yoga, Reiki) and spirituality.

The health status at each stage of life is predicated on previous behaviors — another reason to encourage healthful habits at an early age. The goal is not only to live long, but to live long and be healthy during the mature years.

As people live longer, they often need to or want to be employed later in life. To keep working, good health is necessary. Fortunately, CAM offers alternatives that take into consideration the whole body — mind, spirit and health.


 Dr. Yvonne Bronner is a professor and founding director of the M.P.H./Dr.P.H. program at Morgan State University. She previously served as director of the university’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Training Program.


The material in this calendar is provided for informational purposes only. Aetna is not endorsing any of the therapies presented, and Aetna plans may not cover them.

Alternative medical therapies have a long, rich history that spans centuries in cultures and countries around the world.