Research Studies

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University is focused on clinical research that defines the value of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) practices in disease care and wellness. Below is a selected list of our current active protocols.

CoordinatorPIStudy Description
K. Michael Brooks
kmbrooks( at )
Melinda Ring, MD

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has become sought after as an alternative to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as it appears to provide a number of therapeutic benefits without the alteration of consciousness associated with THC. A number of surveys of cannabis users have suggested that pain is the most frequent condition for which patients seek medicinal cannabis. It remains unknown at this time which cannabinoid is most effective and/or necessary for analgesia and relief of other symptoms. As such, we are investigating Cannabidiol in Pain and Symptom Management. Patients and dispensary clients will describe what CBD products they use, modes of delivery, what conditions they are treating, their perception of effectiveness and whether they have altered their use of any prescription medications, including opiates. Dispensary workers will have the opportunity to describe what CBD products they recommend for which conditions and why. The results of this cross-sectional multi-site observational pilot will be used to inform the design of a follow on trial which will prospectively investigate CBD in a condition for which it appears to have the most potential for benefit.

Co-principal investigators: Donald I. Abrams, MD; Gene Kallenberg, MD

K. Michael Brooks
kmbrooks( at )
Christina Boots, MD

An Integrative Therapeutic Approach for Treating Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive disorder in women, affecting 5-20% of all reproductive-aged women. PCOS is associated with a wide array of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, diabetes, and depression and effects women throughout their lives. Current treatment is modestly effective and not without side effects. Alternative treatment, such as acupuncture and herbal therapy as practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has been successful in improving the individual symptoms of PCOS, including cycle regularity, facilitating weight loss, and reducing stress and depressive symptoms, with minimal to no side effects . In this study, will determine if TCM provides a higher quality of care to women suffering from PCOS, both in effectiveness and in acceptability.


Co-principal investigator: Melinda Ring, MD

K. Michael Brooks
kmbrooks( at )
Melinda Ring, MD

The goal of Examining the Effects of Juice Fasting is to determine the extent to which this recent health trend has an impact on epigenetic markers (methylation), gut bacteria, inflammation markers, measures of insulin resistance and patient reported outcomes of well-being. Specifically, it is an attempt to determine any differential effects on these outcomes from the juice itself as compared to any other restricted-calorie diet or as compared to the addition of juice to a regular diet. In this study, we will recruit 18-30 participants who will go on one of three diets for three days, and gather information from them up to two weeks after the conclusion of the diet.


Co-investigators: Lifang Hou, MD, PhD; Brian Joyce, PhD

K. Michael Brooks
kmbrooks( at )
Elfriede Pahl, MD

Resilience Intervention for Pre-Operative Stress and Emotion (ROSE) is a positive emotions course that teaches 8 skills to families of children on the wait-list for a heart transplant.  The intervention was designed by Dr. Judith Moskowitz and tested on several clinical populations. Her research shows that positive emotions can help people cope with stress, get through difficult times, and even have benefits for health. Each skill is delivered to the family unit in the hospital by trained facilitators.  We are testing the feasibility and acceptability of Dr. Moskowitz's positive affect intervention with this clinical population. We are also testing how the ROSE intervention impacts positive affect, anxiety, depression, and stress in the children and satisfaction and quality of life for the immediate caregivers. We are collecting data from 12 participants, following them until at least one month after their transplant.

Andrea Kim at )
Kim L Feingold, PhD

ACU-HEART: Postoperative Afib Lowering Intervention with Acupuncture Therapy & Evaluation - Through this study, we evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary efficacy of acupuncture therapy on reducing post-operative AFIB and symptoms of pain, nausea/vomiting, depression, and treatment-related factors in patients undergoing mitral valve (MV) surgery.

Co-Investigators: Melinda Ring, MD, Judy Moskowitz, PhD, Patrick McCarthy, MD, David Victorson, PhD, Charlie Davidson, MD

Eva Shiu
eva.shiu( at )
Judy Moskowitz, PhD

Maximizing Affect Regulation Intervention with the Goal of Lowering Depression(MARIGOLD) is an online, self-paced, positive emotions course that teaches 8 skills to people with symptoms of depression.  The intervention was designed by Dr. Judith Moskowitz and her research shows that positive emotions can help people cope with stress, get through difficult times, and even have benefits for health.  We are testing how the MARIGOLD intervention impacts psychological outcomes such as depressive mood,  positive emotion, negative emotion, perceived stress, mindfulness, and positive skills usage over time.  Each skill is paired with an online home practice exercise.  This study is an R34 grant funded by NIMH and we are testing preliminary efficacy, adherence, and retention.  We are also testing 3 course enhancements: 1) Weekly Facilitator Contact 2) an Online Discussion Board and 3) Gamification.  We are randomizing 600 participants to a 9-arm trial with a factorial design including an emotion-reporting group in order to test which combinations maximize retention and engagement.

Elaine Cheung, PhD
elaine.cheung( at )
Judy Moskowitz, PhD & Elaine Cheung, PhD

The purpose of the study is to assess the efficacy of the LAVENDER intervention (Leveraging Affect and Valuing Empathy for Nurturing Doctors’ Emotional Resilience) that will be delivered to third-year medical students at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The LAVENDER program teaches medical students 8 skills for coping with stress more effectively, and increasing positive emotion in their daily lives. This intervention was developed by Dr. Judith Moskowitz and has shown promise for promoting well-being in individuals coping with life stress. We plan to evaluate the efficacy of this program for protecting against empathy decline and burnout in medical trainees.