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This Editorial is the updated letter from April 1997. It serves as a summary of the past two years as well as a press release. [IJBH]

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

In the past few months, many changes have taken place at the Patient Information for Complementary Medicine, and we are proud to say that many of our goals have been reached. A database was created, large numbers of patients as well as interested people (e.g. public and private institutions) received medical consultations, and an international networking project via the Internet was initiated. Hence, after two years of successful work, it is time for us to contact all those interested in Patienteninformation and holistic medicine and give an up-date on our developments.

Due to the fact that our offices had become too small at the Kulturzentrum UFA-Fabrik, a move was undertaken in August 1997. From Sept. 1997 till Dec. 1999 we resided in Genter Str. 63, Berlin-Wedding.

Patienteninformation für Naturheilkunde e.V.
Genter Straße 63 in 13353 Berlin (Wedding)
Tel.: +49-30 / 454 75 203, Fax: +49-30 / 454 75 219, Patient Hotline: +49-30 / 454 75 207

Since 15. Dec. 1999 we have again an office in the International Culture Center UFA-Fabrik Berlin:

Patienteninformation für Naturheilkunde e.V.
c/o UFA-Fabrik Viktoriastr. 10-18
D-12105 Berlin
Tel.: +49-30-76 00 876-0
Fax: +49-30-76 00 876-1
Patients call: -49-30-454 18 07

At this new location, we finally are able to provide personal consultations. Additionally, in our new home, we have access to a conference and educational center where we plan to hold regular events.

The Project Patient Information was initiated by Mr. Bernhard Harrer in December 1994. From then on this project was underwritten by the Ärztegesellschaft für Naturheilverfahren (Physiotherapie) Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., by Professor Dr. Joachim Hornung from the Department of Naturopathy at the Free University in Berlin, and by the Datendiwan e.V., a non-profit think-tank for networking knowledge. Thanks to state funding, we were able to create more than 20 full-time positions concentrating on medicine and natural science. During these two years, we established a fully operational research facility and relational database for complementary medicine. However, due to the time-restriction of such state-funded projects (two years in our case), the team had to be reduced to eight full-time employees in December 1996. Currently, the main financing comes from research contracts with miscellaneous institutions, private donations, and other public grants.

Since many grants continously are cut out of state budgets, we are unable to continue to offer our patient consultation services free of charge.For all written requests, we must now rely on donations of a minimum of DM 20 either per check or in the form of stamps.

Additionally, we have decided to form our own non-profit organization separate from the Ärztegesellschaft für Naturheilverfahren due to the amassing interest in our work from the scientific community and our first unrestricted employee contracts. This organization will be called "Patienteninformation für Naturheilkunde e.V." (please note the additional "e.V."). This non-profit incorporates the patient consultation and research requests.

The patient consultation hours also have changed times. Our consultation hours are Monday to Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please make a note of this change!

Additionally, we are excited to introduce our new Technical Information Service (four employees).
Their tasks include:

The Technical Information Service is a tool for doctors, therapists, health insurance agencies, researchers, authors, publishing houses, and journalists.

On this note, we would like to mention the founding of the company Bernhard Harrer Wissenstransfer (The Transfer of Knowledge). This firm's work will focus on institutional consultations and information management. Additionally, the firm conducts seminars, conferences and will publish an online magazine on the Datadiwan website. Past research experience and obvious expertise in the development and networking of databases also will be encorporated into this work. The address is:

Bernhard Harrer Wissenstransfer
c/o UFA-Fabrik Viktoriastr. 10-18
D-12105 Berlin
Tel.: 030-74 68 01 70
Fax: 030-74 68 01 71

Patient Information and Wissenstransfer collectively will work together to build an international network of databases in order to support the global vision for a healthy mankind and environment. First and foremost on our agenda is to focus on research developments in complementary medicine and frontier sciences. Subsequently, we will document and publish on-line current developments and findings.

One of the many new pieces of news is our on-going work with WorldWideWeb/Internet. After three years of collaboration with the Free University in Berlin, our Internet presence has been firmly established, with an average of 1300 pageviews daily to the Datadiwan site. You can visit our website at: At this point in time, the Datadiwan website provides more than 3,000 book pages. One main stop on the website (approximately 200 pages) is the information and literature provided by our cooperation partner, Gesellschaft für biologische Krebsabwehr (a society for biological cancer treatments). Another point of emphasis is to assess the efficacy of current methods in complementary medicine as well as to explain basic methodological findings.

In the middle of 1997, we added to the Datadiwan website another interesting attraction, the Annotated Biography and Address List for Alternative Sciences written and researched by Norbert Moch. At this stop, one has access to approximately 300 pages of materials, address and books relating to frontier sciences.

Here we take the liberty of mentioning that our Internet pages are deliberately published in a simple, straightforward manner. We have not added any superfluous graphics in order to maintain a readable surface and to enable quick down-load. Our main concern at the Datadiwan website is not aesthetic performance but rather to present the highest quality content possible. Another unusual function at the Datadiwan website is the role of the Datadiwan-Infojockeys (IJ) - a moderator - who provides specific commentaries and tips for further resources.

We would like to mention that we also have a new Email address. Patient Information can be reached at However, all scientific questions should be directed to

Another item of news is that we conducted a statistical review of our patient consultation for the time period of June 1995 to November 1996. During these 18 months, approximately 2,000 people received consultations. We received more than 200 inquiries from doctors, journalist, and health insurance providers.

For the most part, the questions for our doctors were concerning specific illnesses or symptoms. Many of these questions were aimed at specific naturopathic therapies. The average consultation lasted between 15 and 25 minuntes, and, generally, these phone calls ended with referals to healthcare professionals, relevant literature, and self-help contacts.

The second type of question most often asked was "Where do I find a doctor in my vicinity who specializes in (e.g.) acupuncture?" Such consultations lasted approximately 5 minutes. Doctors, health insurance companies, journalists, and researchers usually requested more time-consuming research evaluations for unusual and/or unique therapies. We have listed below what types of research were conducted at Patienteninformation:

Our consultation service is a tool to be utilized by patients who necessitate direction and counsel before taking the route of naturopathic and holistic medicine. Our ultimate goal: Patients, having received medical consultation, should be able to judge for themselves which methods or therapies best fit their needs. As a consequence, patients are empowered to make their own healthcare choices and work together in a healing partnership with their treating physicians.

The healing process is a holistic process. Therefore, the patient who is confronted with the disease should also be the one who must decide what methods will be the most helpful on his/her personal path to health.

We regard holistic medicine as a part of the larger global concept integrating the classical, naturopathic, and psychosomatic medicines with the ecological, ethical, and spiritual aspects of human existence. The vast amount of materials available concerning complementary and holistic medicine has expanded so greatly that a single research project let alone larger databases have an arduous time classifying such information. Hence, an overview of the holistic sciences is achieved most effectively by filtering the data according to specific topics (e.g. country information or terminology). Currently, such endeavors on an international level are generally in their infancy and are mainly spontaneous and unstructured. For this reason, much of the work is redundant, and each project runs the risk of paying a great deal for such sporadic data collections. For this reason, we suggest to groups who are in the beginning stages of such projects to interface with other networkers and learn from their experiences - both those positive and negative.

Ultimately, it is our goal to become a motor for database networking systems. Through the use of electronic documentation tools, we have created a standardized structure to transfer information to researchers and documentation centers. Some of our most recent projects include the ordering, editting, and standardizing of database collections which then can be integrated into a joint "knowledge database" (Wissensdatenbank). Here, new networks are created and further discussions and cooperations can ensue where resources can be channeled and documented. This is an important project in such times where scientific funding is being dramatically cut back and other alternative resources must be found.

The objective of our project is to help research groups and professional associations evalulate their conventional modes of thinking. The wide-spread fear of pooling resources with other like-minded institutions must become a relic of the past if we want to become a community open to discussions where various conceptual approaches can be critically assessed - from all perspectives. Here, too, we have produced a unique tool: a document-oriented discussion forum. Attached to every document published on the Datadiwan website is a unique commentary field where readers can write in their own comments and observations. Then, this commentary is published on our Datadiwan-website, available for future visitors to read and further comment upon. The result: the genesis of a spontaneous discussion forum. When necessary, the commentaries are moderated by our Infojockeys, who provide further resources as well as links other forums and documents.

Our internal database, which we loving call the Datadiwan, has grown immensely in the past few months. The Datadiwan renders comfort and ease in this age of informational innovations. Its literature database alone amounts to more than 12,000 documents. Its address database consists of approximately 9,000 members, among them several internationally renown experts and researchers in the fields of complementary medicine and frontier sciences. Additionally, the volume of fulltexts stored in Datadiwan electronic fulltext archive numbers more than 50,000 book pages.

We are proud to report that the Datadiwan currently is one of largest anthologies of complementary medicine and frontier sciences in the German-speaking world.

Further information:

Now to an important question which is continuously asked:

How can one get involved with this network of knowledge about complementary medicine?
Authors, research institutions, and professional associations can submit their findings to the Datadiwan database as well as retrieve articles, books, informational blurbs, and data collections. For example: magazines, yearly indices, fulltext articles, and abstracts can be integrated into the database and/or can be published electronically on the Datadiwan website.

As a final point, the Datadiwan accepts sponsorships in the form of financing or donations. These are greatly appreciated as they make our non-profit work possible!

We hope that our readers have received a clearer picture of our unique approach to handling and transferring knowledge. The basis of holistic medicine is the holistic approach to knowledge. A contemporary approach should include scientific ground work, subjective experiences, and modern tools for informational science. These combined create a new and effective instrument to exchange knowledge!

Best wishes from Berlin,

Bernhard Harrer and the Team from
Patienteninformation für Naturheilkunde
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