University of the Virgin Islands Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The University of the Virgin Islands' Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (UVI-CCAM) was created in the summer of 2011 under the direction of Dr. Laverne Brown. The Center's concept is based on the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), one of 27 institutes in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCCAM is the Federal Government's lead agency that uses rigorous scientific investigation to determine the effectiveness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine and health care methods generally not considered part of conventional medicine. Dr. Brown, a medicinal chemist and UVI CCAM Director, envisioned the Center having a multidisciplinary team of scientists to investigate the trends, efficacy and challenges associated with the use of complementary and alternative medicines in the Territory. As scientific evidence about the use of alternative botanical medicines is available through UVI-CCAM research, then local healthcare providers can make more informed decisions when communicating alternative treatment regimens and options to patients.

UVI-CCAM is a 2-year pilot research project focusing on the scientific investigation of two VI traditional medicinal plants, soursop (Annona muricata) and lemon grass (Cymopogon citratus). Much of the scientific literature provides data pertaining to a single active ingredient isolated from select medicinal plants. However, US Virgin Islanders believe that several of the components of a botanical remedy act synergistically, working together to provide a more holistic approach for treatment. CCAM will seek to provide evidence to support this holistic approach to healing and establish mechanisms for community outreach. The initial focus of the Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Medicines also will be on the use of alternative medicines for the treatment of diabetes and skin infections. Over time, the Center will expand its exploratory efforts to include investigations of other disease states or ailments that commonly affect US Virgin Islanders.

UVI-CCAM Director Dr. LaVerne Brown (far right) conducts a meeting with the some
of the CCAM team.

The Center is defined by five specific aims:

  • Establish a detailed record of trends of alternative medicine use in the Territory with respect to specific disease states

  • Ascertain the efficacy and safety of commonly used alternative medicines in the VI

  • Evaluate the benefits of alternative medicine use over pharmaceutical treatments

  •  Investigate the challenges of alternative medicine and drug-drug interactions

  • Disseminate the data to the local community and health care provider        

Click on the following links below photos for more information on UVI-CCAM's three main research teams: