A young child opening a CAMCrate for Kids! box, hoping for relief from her Childhood-Onset Qi Deficiency (COQD)

A young child opening a CAMCrate for Kids! box, hoping for relief from her Childhood-Onset Qi Deficiency (COQD)

Cleveland, OH- Cleveland native Kelly Anderson is looking forward to the end of the month like a young child anxiously awaiting Christmas morning. That’s because on a day between the 20th and the 28th of December, she will receive the gift of hope. Anderson, a 43-year-old mother of five who was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and numerous nutritional imbalances earlier this year by a Naturopathic doctor during a visit to discuss her unexplained fatigue, is part of a growing number of people interested in an alternative path to wellness.

CAMCrate, a new monthly subscription box service developed by the experts at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, will deliver boxes of high quality and thoroughly tested alternative medical experiences right to customer’s doorstep starting this month. Anderson, who learned about the new service during a routine check-up at the office of her Cleveland Clinic affiliated primary care doctor, is quick to point out that she loves her conventional medical doctor. “I’m not against Western scientific medicine, I’m just looking to augment it with something different, something special. Who doesn’t want a little magic and mystery in their lives?”

Interest in alternative therapies, particularly when combined synergistically with conventional healthcare to form a highly effective hybrid known as integrative medicine, is at an all-time high. According to National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Director Josephine Briggs, proponents of integrative medicine are excited but a bit surprised by the trend. “People just can’t seem to get enough these days, which is amazing considering that just a few decades ago we couldn’t have given most of this stuff away for free.”

“At the Cleveland Clinic, we believe that there are a lot of people out there looking for a more holistic approach to health, with an open minded focus on finding the true cause of their problems rather than merely treating symptoms,” Delos M. Cosgrove MD, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic explained. “Once we found a way to work around the efficacy vacuum and to rationalize the ethical concerns, we realized that the two biggest roadblocks to customer expansion were a lack of awareness of the myriad options out there and the inconvenience of leaving the house.”

Subscription box services, which are generally broken down into convenience and discovery categories, are big business with over $5 billion in revenue in 2014. The Cleveland Clinic’s CAMCrate would serve both purposes depending on the particular consumer. Experienced customers with a good handle on their individual needs, such as a wifi-allergic investment banker diagnosed with splenic ennui and a touch of systemic candidiasis by a professional, will be able to tailor their service accordingly. Subscribers will have the option of choosing from one of several unique “Experiences”, such as The Energy Within, The Power of Faith, East Meets West, or Functional Medicine. But for novices, a monthly Awakenings CAMCrate will serve as a gateway into a world where methodological naturalism and fundamental laws of physics and chemistry can be comfortably ignored.

Until now, curious healthcare consumers would have had to make an appointment for a one-hour comprehensive Integrative Medicine consultation with a Cleveland Clinic specialist. Or they could take their chances with a non-academic provider chosen based on anecdotes and testimonials, which can be misleading. With the CAMCrate, a customer can gain personal experience with a variety of alternative medical modalities in the comfort of their own home. They can then make an informed choice regarding their desired experience.

Each CAMCrate will consist of 2-3 basic alternative medical experiences handpicked by Cleveland Clinic experts, with options for extra items and services at additional cost. For example, a box may come packed with an assortment of essential oils, a set of adhesive rare-earth acu-magnets, and a chiropractic self-adjustment device. Accompanying each experience will be information on the history of that alternative healing modality and step-by-step instructions on their use. Customers will also gain access to exclusive instructional videos developed by Cleveland Clinic and coupons for personal Integrative Medicine sessions.

The CAMCrate will range in cost from $29.99 for the entry level “Beginner’s Box” described above to $399.99 for the “Elite Experience Box.” Pricier boxes come stocked with an amazing array of advanced alternative medical experiences, such as a home Kirlian photography kit or medical-grade dowsing rods, and even private home sessions with endorsed local providers. Customers who sign up for 6- or 12-month packages by December 31st will be automatically entered into a prize drawing for a chance to win an appearance on the Dr. Oz show.

“We feel that the CAMCrate would make an ideal Christmas gift for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list,” Cosgrove added. “And regular customers can expect some pretty amazing deals and partnerships in the future!”

One of those partnerships has already been announced by Cleveland Clinic. Starting in July of 2017, Cleveland Clinic will partner with Blue Apron, the popular national meal box delivery service, to offer a service designed to help customers concerned about possible food allergies and intolerances. Each Blue Apron MediBox will contain a variety of recipe ingredients as well as a home IgG food antibody testing kit specific to that week’s meals.

Posted by Clay Jones

Clay Jones, M.D. is a pediatrician and a regular contributor to the Science-Based Medicine blog. He primarily cares for healthy newborns and hospitalized children, and devotes his full time to educating pediatric residents and medical students. Dr. Jones first became aware of and interested in the incursion of pseudoscience into his chosen profession while completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital a decade ago. He has since focused his efforts on teaching the application of critical thinking and scientific skepticism to the practice of pediatric medicine. Dr. Jones has no conflicts of interest to disclose and no ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He can be found on Twitter as @SBMPediatrics and is the co-host of The Prism Podcast with fellow SBM contributor Grant Ritchey. The comments expressed by Dr. Jones are his own and do not represent the views or opinions of Newton-Wellesley Hospital or its administration.