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Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative medicineAM, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), complementary medicine, heterodox medicine, integrative medicine (IM), complementary and integrative medicine (CIM), new-age medicine, unconventional medicine, unorthodox medicineHow alternative treatments “work”:a) Misinterpreted natural course the individual gets better without treatment.b) Placebo effect or false treatment effect an individual receives “alternative therapy” and is convinced it will help. The conviction makes them more likely to get better.c) Nocebo effect an individual is convinced that standard treatment will not work, and that alternative treatment will work. This decreases the likelyhood standard treatment will work, while the placebo effect of the “alternative” remains.d) No adverse effects Standard treatment is replaced with “alternative” treatment, getting rid of adverse effects, but also of improvement.e) Interference Standard treatment is “complemented” with something that interferes with its effect. This can both cause worse effect, but also decreased (or even increased) side effects, which may be interpreted as “helping”.Researchers such as epidemiologists, clinical statisticians and pharmacologists use clinical trials to tease out such effects, allowing doctors to offer only that which has been shown to work. “Alternative treatments” often refuse to use trials or make it deliberately hard to do so.

Alternative medicine, fringe medicine, pseudomedicine or simply questionable medicine is the use and promotion of practices which are unproven, disproven, impossible to prove, or excessively harmful in relation to their effect in the attempt to achieve the healing effects of medicine. They differ from experimental medicine in that the latter employs responsible investigation, and accepts results that show it to be ineffective. The scientific consensus is that alternative therapies either do not, or cannot, work. In some cases laws of nature are violated by their basic claims; in some the treatment is so much worse that its use is unethical. Alternative practices, products, and therapies range from only ineffective to having known harmful and toxic effects.

Alternative therapies may be credited for perceived improvement through placebo effects, decreased use or effect of medical treatment (and therefore either decreased side effects; or nocebo effects towards standard treatment), or the natural course of the condition or disease. Alternative treatment is not the same as experimental treatment or traditional medicine, although both can be misused in ways that are alternative. Alternative or complementary medicine is dangerous because it may discourage people from getting the best possible treatment, and may lead to a false understanding of the body and of science.

Alternative medicine is used by a significant number of people, though its popularity is often overstated. Large amounts of funding go to testing alternative medicine, with more than US$2.5 billion spent by the United States government alone. Almost none show any effect beyond that of false treatment, and most studies showing any effect have been statistical flukes. Alternative medicine is a highly profitable industry, with a strong lobby. This fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively when compared to “big pharma”. The lobby has successfully pushed for alternative therapies to be subject to far less regulation than conventional medicine. Alternative therapies may even be allowed to promote use when there is demonstrably no effect, only a tradition of use. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine and health care providers varies between and within countries. Despite laws making it illegal to market or promote alternative therapies for use in cancer treatment, many practitioners promote them. Alternative medicine is criticized for taking advantage of the weakest members of society. For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine before obtaining its current name. Therapies are often framed as “natural” or “holistic”, in apparent opposition to conventional medicine which is “artificial” and “narrow in scope”, statements which are intentionally misleading. When used together with functional medical treatment, alternative therapies do not “complement” (improve the effect of, or mitigate the side effects of) treatment. Significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively impact functional treatment, making it less effective, notably in cancer.

Alternative diagnoses and treatments are not part of medicine, or of science-based curricula in medical schools, nor are they used in any practice based on scientific knowledge or experience. Alternative therapies are often based on religious belief, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or lies. Alternative medicine is based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, and poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine that has no scientific basis has been called a waste of scarce research resources. Critics state that “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, that the very idea of “alternative” treatments is paradoxical, as any treatment proven to work is by definition “medicine”.

Alternative medicine is defined loosely as a set of products, practices, and theories that are believed or perceived by their users to have the healing effects of medicine,[n 1][n 2] but whose effectiveness has not been clearly established using scientific methods,[n 1][n 3][4][5][6][7] or whose theory and practice is not part of biomedicine,[n 2][n 4][n 5][n 6] or whose theories or practices are directly contradicted by scientific evidence or scientific principles used in biomedicine.[4][5][11] “Biomedicine” or “medicine” is that part of medical science that applies principles of biology, physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice. Unlike medicine,[n 4] an alternative product or practice does not originate from using scientific methods, but may instead be based on hearsay, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources.[n 3][1][4][5]

In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.[12]

The expression also refers to a diverse range of related and unrelated products, practices, and theories ranging from biologically plausible practices and products and practices with some evidence, to practices and theories that are directly contradicted by basic science or clear evidence, and products that have been conclusively proven to be ineffective or even toxic and harmful.[n 2][14][15]

The terms alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, unorthodox medicine, fringe medicine, unconventional medicine, and new age medicine are used interchangeably as having the same meaning and are almost synonymous in some contexts,[16][17][18][19] but may have different meanings in some rare cases.

The meaning of the term “alternative” in the expression “alternative medicine”, is not that it is an effective alternative to medical science, although some alternative medicine promoters may use the loose terminology to give the appearance of effectiveness.[4][20] Loose terminology may also be used to suggest meaning that a dichotomy exists when it does not, e.g., the use of the expressions “western medicine” and “eastern medicine” to suggest that the difference is a cultural difference between the Asiatic east and the European west, rather than that the difference is between evidence-based medicine and treatments that don’t work.[4]

Complementary medicine (CM) or integrative medicine (IM) is when alternative medicine is used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it improves the effect of treatments.[n 7][1][22][23][24] However, significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatment, making treatments less effective, notably cancer therapy.[25][26] Both terms refer to use of alternative medical treatments alongside conventional medicine,[27][28][29] an example of which is use of acupuncture (sticking needles in the body to influence the flow of a supernatural energy), along with using science-based medicine, in the belief that the acupuncture increases the effectiveness or “complements” the science-based medicine.[29]

Allopathic medicine or allopathy is an expression commonly used by homeopaths and proponents of other forms of alternative medicine to refer to mainstream medicine. It was used to describe the traditional European practice of heroic medicine, which was based on balance of the four “humours” (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) where disease was caused by an excess of one humour, and would thus be treated with its opposite.[30] This description continued to be used to describe anything that was not homeopathy.[30] Apart from in India, the term is not used outside alternative medicine and not accepted by the medical field.

Allopathy refers to the use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.[31] The German version of the word, allopathisch, was coined in 1810 by the creator of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (17551843).[32] The word was coined from allo- (different) and -pathic (relating to a disease or to a method of treatment).[33] In alternative medicine circles the expression “allopathic medicine” is still used to refer to “the broad category of medical practice that is sometimes called Western medicine, biomedicine, evidence-based medicine, or modern medicine” (see the article on scientific medicine).[34]

Use of the term remains common among homeopaths and has spread to other alternative medicine practices. The meaning implied by the label has never been accepted by conventional medicine and is considered pejorative.[35] More recently, some sources have used the term “allopathic”, particularly American sources wishing to distinguish between Doctors of Medicine (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in the United States.[32][36] William Jarvis, an expert on alternative medicine and public health,[37] states that “although many modern therapies can be construed to conform to an allopathic rationale (e.g., using a laxative to relieve constipation), standard medicine has never paid allegiance to an allopathic principle” and that the label “allopath” was from the start “considered highly derisive by regular medicine”.[38]

Many conventional medical treatments clearly do not fit the nominal definition of allopathy, as they seek to prevent illness, or remove its cause.[39][40]

CAM is an abbreviation of complementary and alternative medicine.[41][42] It has also been called sCAM or SCAM with the addition of “so-called” or “supplements”.[43][44] The words balance and holism are often used, claiming to take into account a “whole” person, in contrast to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Due to its many names the field has been criticized for intense rebranding of what are essentially the same practices: as soon as one name is declared synonymous with quackery, a new name is chosen.[16]

Traditional medicine refers to the pre-scientific practices of a certain culture, contrary to what is typically practiced in other cultures where medical science dominates.

“Eastern medicine” typically refers to the traditional medicines of Asia where conventional bio-medicine penetrated much later.

Prominent members of the science[45][46] and biomedical science community[3] say that it is not meaningful to define an alternative medicine that is separate from a conventional medicine, that the expressions “conventional medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, “integrative medicine”, and “holistic medicine” do not refer to any medicine at all.[45][3][46][47]

Others in both the biomedical and CAM communities say that CAM cannot be precisely defined because of the diversity of theories and practices it includes, and because the boundaries between CAM and biomedicine overlap, are porous, and change. The expression “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) resists easy definition because the health systems and practices it refers to are diffuse, and its boundaries poorly defined.[14][n 8] Healthcare practices categorized as alternative may differ in their historical origin, theoretical basis, diagnostic technique, therapeutic practice and in their relationship to the medical mainstream. Some alternative therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, have antique origins in East or South Asia and are entirely alternative medical systems;[52] others, such as homeopathy and chiropractic, have origins in Europe or the United States and emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some, such as osteopathy and chiropractic, employ manipulative physical methods of treatment; others, such as meditation and prayer, are based on mind-body interventions. Treatments considered alternative in one location may be considered conventional in another.[55] Thus, chiropractic is not considered alternative in Denmark and likewise osteopathic medicine is no longer thought of as an alternative therapy in the United States.[55]

Critics say the expression is deceptive because it implies there is an effective alternative to science-based medicine, and that complementary is deceptive because it implies that the treatment increases the effectiveness of (complements) science-based medicine, while alternative medicines that have been tested nearly always have no measurable positive effect compared to a placebo.[4][56][57][58]

One common feature of all definitions of alternative medicine is its designation as “other than” conventional medicine. For example, the widely referenced descriptive definition of complementary and alternative medicine devised by the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that it is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine”.[61] For conventional medical practitioners, it does not necessarily follow that either it or its practitioners would no longer be considered alternative.[n 9]

Some definitions seek to specify alternative medicine in terms of its social and political marginality to mainstream healthcare.[64] This can refer to the lack of support that alternative therapies receive from the medical establishment and related bodies regarding access to research funding, sympathetic coverage in the medical press, or inclusion in the standard medical curriculum.[64] In 1993, the British Medical Association (BMA), one among many professional organizations who have attempted to define alternative medicine, stated that it[n 10] referred to “…those forms of treatment which are not widely used by the conventional healthcare professions, and the skills of which are not taught as part of the undergraduate curriculum of conventional medical and paramedical healthcare courses”.[65] In a US context, an influential definition coined in 1993 by the Harvard-based physician,[66] David M. Eisenberg,[67] characterized alternative medicine “as interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals”.[68] These descriptive definitions are inadequate in the present-day when some conventional doctors offer alternative medical treatments and CAM introductory courses or modules can be offered as part of standard undergraduate medical training;[69] alternative medicine is taught in more than 50 per cent of US medical schools and increasingly US health insurers are willing to provide reimbursement for CAM therapies. In 1999, 7.7% of US hospitals reported using some form of CAM therapy; this proportion had risen to 37.7% by 2008.[71]

An expert panel at a conference hosted in 1995 by the US Office for Alternative Medicine (OAM),[72][n 11] devised a theoretical definition[72] of alternative medicine as “a broad domain of healing resources… other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period”.[74] This definition has been widely adopted by CAM researchers,[72] cited by official government bodies such as the UK Department of Health,[75] attributed as the definition used by the Cochrane Collaboration,[76] and, with some modification,[dubious discuss] was preferred in the 2005 consensus report of the US Institute of Medicine, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.[n 2]

The 1995 OAM conference definition, an expansion of Eisenberg’s 1993 formulation, is silent regarding questions of the medical effectiveness of alternative therapies.[77] Its proponents hold that it thus avoids relativism about differing forms of medical knowledge and, while it is an essentially political definition, this should not imply that the dominance of mainstream biomedicine is solely due to political forces.[77] According to this definition, alternative and mainstream medicine can only be differentiated with reference to what is “intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society of culture”.[78] However, there is neither a reliable method to distinguish between cultures and subcultures, nor to attribute them as dominant or subordinate, nor any accepted criteria to determine the dominance of a cultural entity.[78] If the culture of a politically dominant healthcare system is held to be equivalent to the perspectives of those charged with the medical management of leading healthcare institutions and programs, the definition fails to recognize the potential for division either within such an elite or between a healthcare elite and the wider population.[78]

Normative definitions distinguish alternative medicine from the biomedical mainstream in its provision of therapies that are unproven, unvalidated, or ineffective and support of theories with no recognized scientific basis. These definitions characterize practices as constituting alternative medicine when, used independently or in place of evidence-based medicine, they are put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but are not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method.[1][3][27][28][61][80] Exemplifying this perspective, a 1998 editorial co-authored by Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, argued that:

It is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride. There cannot be two kinds of medicine conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted. But assertions, speculation, and testimonials do not substitute for evidence. Alternative treatments should be subjected to scientific testing no less rigorous than that required for conventional treatments.[3]

This line of division has been subject to criticism, however, as not all forms of standard medical practice have adequately demonstrated evidence of benefit,[n 4][81] and it is also unlikely in most instances that conventional therapies, if proven to be ineffective, would ever be classified as CAM.[72]

Similarly, the public information website maintained by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Commonwealth of Australia uses the acronym “CAM” for a wide range of health care practices, therapies, procedures and devices not within the domain of conventional medicine. In the Australian context this is stated to include acupuncture; aromatherapy; chiropractic; homeopathy; massage; meditation and relaxation therapies; naturopathy; osteopathy; reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine; and the use of vitamin supplements.[83]

The Danish National Board of Health’s “Council for Alternative Medicine” (Sundhedsstyrelsens Rd for Alternativ Behandling (SRAB)), an independent institution under the National Board of Health (Danish: Sundhedsstyrelsen), uses the term “alternative medicine” for:

Proponents of an evidence-base for medicine[n 12][86][87][88][89] such as the Cochrane Collaboration (founded in 1993 and from 2011 providing input for WHO resolutions) take a position that all systematic reviews of treatments, whether “mainstream” or “alternative”, ought to be held to the current standards of scientific method.[90] In a study titled Development and classification of an operational definition of complementary and alternative medicine for the Cochrane Collaboration (2011) it was proposed that indicators that a therapy is accepted include government licensing of practitioners, coverage by health insurance, statements of approval by government agencies, and recommendation as part of a practice guideline; and that if something is currently a standard, accepted therapy, then it is not likely to be widely considered as CAM.[72]

Alternative medicine consists of a wide range of health care practices, products, and therapies. The shared feature is a claim to heal that is not based on the scientific method. Alternative medicine practices are diverse in their foundations and methodologies.[61] Alternative medicine practices may be classified by their cultural origins or by the types of beliefs upon which they are based.[1][4][11][61] Methods may incorporate or be based on traditional medicinal practices of a particular culture, folk knowledge, superstition, spiritual beliefs, belief in supernatural energies (antiscience), pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, new or different concepts of health and disease, and any bases other than being proven by scientific methods.[1][4][5][11] Different cultures may have their own unique traditional or belief based practices developed recently or over thousands of years, and specific practices or entire systems of practices.

Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.[61]

Alternative medical systems may be based on traditional medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda in India, or practices of other cultures around the world.[61] Some useful applications of traditional medicines have been researched and accepted within ordinary medicine, however the underlying belief systems are seldom scientific and are not accepted.

Traditional medicine is considered alternative when it is used outside its home region; or when it is used together with or instead of known functional treatment; or when it can be reasonably expected that the patient or practitioner knows or should know that it will not work such as knowing that the practice is based on superstition.

Since ancient times, in many parts of the world a number of herbs reputed to possess abortifacient properties have been used in folk medicine. Among these are: tansy, pennyroyal, black cohosh, and the now-extinct silphium.[101]:4447, 6263, 15455, 23031 Historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz has written of the probable protoscientific origins of this folk knowledge in observation of farm animals. Women who knew that grazing on certain plants would cause an animal to abort (with negative economic consequences for the farm) would be likely to try out those plants on themselves in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.[102]:120

However, modern users of these plants often lack knowledge of the proper preparation and dosage. The historian of medicine John Riddle has spoken of the “broken chain of knowledge” caused by urbanization and modernization,[101]:167205 and Koblitz has written that “folk knowledge about effective contraception techniques often disappears over time or becomes inextricably mixed with useless or harmful practices.”[102]:vii The ill-informed or indiscriminant use of herbs as abortifacients can cause serious and even lethal side-effects.[103][104]

Bases of belief may include belief in existence of supernatural energies undetected by the science of physics, as in biofields, or in belief in properties of the energies of physics that are inconsistent with the laws of physics, as in energy medicine.[61]

Substance based practices use substances found in nature such as herbs, foods, non-vitamin supplements and megavitamins, animal and fungal products, and minerals, including use of these products in traditional medical practices that may also incorporate other methods.[61][119][120] Examples include healing claims for nonvitamin supplements, fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil, and ginseng.[121] Herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, includes not just the use of plant products, but may also include the use of animal and mineral products.[119] It is among the most commercially successful branches of alternative medicine, and includes the tablets, powders and elixirs that are sold as “nutritional supplements”.[119] Only a very small percentage of these have been shown to have any efficacy, and there is little regulation as to standards and safety of their contents.[119] This may include use of known toxic substances, such as use of the poison lead in traditional Chinese medicine.[121]

A US agency, National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has created a classification system for branches of complementary and alternative medicine that divides them into five major groups. These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.[125] None of these energies have any evidence to support that they effect the body in any positive or health promoting way.[30]

The history of alternative medicine may refer to the history of a group of diverse medical practices that were collectively promoted as “alternative medicine” beginning in the 1970s, to the collection of individual histories of members of that group, or to the history of western medical practices that were labeled “irregular practices” by the western medical establishment.[4][126][127][128][129] It includes the histories of complementary medicine and of integrative medicine. Before the 1970s, western practitioners that were not part of the increasingly science-based medical establishment were referred to “irregular practitioners”, and were dismissed by the medical establishment as unscientific and as practicing quackery.[126][127] Until the 1970s, irregular practice became increasingly marginalized as quackery and fraud, as western medicine increasingly incorporated scientific methods and discoveries, and had a corresponding increase in success of its treatments.[128] In the 1970s, irregular practices were grouped with traditional practices of nonwestern cultures and with other unproven or disproven practices that were not part of biomedicine, with the entire group collectively marketed and promoted under the single expression “alternative medicine”.[4][126][127][128][130]

Use of alternative medicine in the west began to rise following the counterculture movement of the 1960s, as part of the rising new age movement of the 1970s.[4][131][132] This was due to misleading mass marketing of “alternative medicine” being an effective “alternative” to biomedicine, changing social attitudes about not using chemicals and challenging the establishment and authority of any kind, sensitivity to giving equal measure to beliefs and practices of other cultures (cultural relativism), and growing frustration and desperation by patients about limitations and side effects of science-based medicine.[4][127][128][129][130][132][133] At the same time, in 1975, the American Medical Association, which played the central role in fighting quackery in the United States, abolished its quackery committee and closed down its Department of Investigation.[126]:xxi[133] By the early to mid 1970s the expression “alternative medicine” came into widespread use, and the expression became mass marketed as a collection of “natural” and effective treatment “alternatives” to science-based biomedicine.[4][133][134][135] By 1983, mass marketing of “alternative medicine” was so pervasive that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) pointed to “an apparently endless stream of books, articles, and radio and television programmes urge on the public the virtues of (alternative medicine) treatments ranging from meditation to drilling a hole in the skull to let in more oxygen”.[133]

Mainly as a result of reforms following the Flexner Report of 1910[136] medical education in established medical schools in the US has generally not included alternative medicine as a teaching topic.[n 14] Typically, their teaching is based on current practice and scientific knowledge about: anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology and immunology.[138] Medical schools’ teaching includes such topics as doctor-patient communication, ethics, the art of medicine,[139] and engaging in complex clinical reasoning (medical decision-making).[140] Writing in 2002, Snyderman and Weil remarked that by the early twentieth century the Flexner model had helped to create the 20th-century academic health center, in which education, research, and practice were inseparable. While this had much improved medical practice by defining with increasing certainty the pathophysiological basis of disease, a single-minded focus on the pathophysiological had diverted much of mainstream American medicine from clinical conditions that were not well understood in mechanistic terms, and were not effectively treated by conventional therapies.[141]

By 2001 some form of CAM training was being offered by at least 75 out of 125 medical schools in the US.[142] Exceptionally, the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore includes a research institute for integrative medicine (a member entity of the Cochrane Collaboration).[90][143] Medical schools are responsible for conferring medical degrees, but a physician typically may not legally practice medicine until licensed by the local government authority. Licensed physicians in the US who have attended one of the established medical schools there have usually graduated Doctor of Medicine (MD).[144] All states require that applicants for MD licensure be graduates of an approved medical school and complete the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).[144]

There is a general scientific consensus that alternative therapies lack the requisite scientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved.[1][4][145][146] Many of the claims regarding the efficacy of alternative medicines are controversial, since research on them is frequently of low quality and methodologically flawed. Selective publication bias, marked differences in product quality and standardisation, and some companies making unsubstantiated claims call into question the claims of efficacy of isolated examples where there is evidence for alternative therapies.[148]

The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine points to confusions in the general population a person may attribute symptomatic relief to an otherwise-ineffective therapy just because they are taking something (the placebo effect); the natural recovery from or the cyclical nature of an illness (the regression fallacy) gets misattributed to an alternative medicine being taken; a person not diagnosed with science-based medicine may never originally have had a true illness diagnosed as an alternative disease category.[149]

Edzard Ernst characterized the evidence for many alternative techniques as weak, nonexistent, or negative[150] and in 2011 published his estimate that about 7.4% were based on “sound evidence”, although he believes that may be an overestimate.[151] Ernst has concluded that 95% of the alternative treatments he and his team studied, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and reflexology, are “statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments”, but he also believes there is something that conventional doctors can usefully learn from the chiropractors and homeopath: this is the therapeutic value of the placebo effect, one of the strangest phenomena in medicine.[152][153]

In 2003, a project funded by the CDC identified 208 condition-treatment pairs, of which 58% had been studied by at least one randomized controlled trial (RCT), and 23% had been assessed with a meta-analysis.[154] According to a 2005 book by a US Institute of Medicine panel, the number of RCTs focused on CAM has risen dramatically.

As of 2005[update], the Cochrane Library had 145 CAM-related Cochrane systematic reviews and 340 non-Cochrane systematic reviews. An analysis of the conclusions of only the 145 Cochrane reviews was done by two readers. In 83% of the cases, the readers agreed. In the 17% in which they disagreed, a third reader agreed with one of the initial readers to set a rating. These studies found that, for CAM, 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly positive (12.4%), 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.7% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6% concluded insufficient evidence. An assessment of conventional treatments found that 41.3% concluded positive or possibly positive effect, 20% concluded no effect, 8.1% concluded net harmful effects, and 21.3% concluded insufficient evidence. However, the CAM review used the more developed 2004 Cochrane database, while the conventional review used the initial 1998 Cochrane database.

In the same way as for conventional therapies, drugs, and interventions, it can be difficult to test the efficacy of alternative medicine in clinical trials. In instances where an established, effective, treatment for a condition is already available, the Helsinki Declaration states that withholding such treatment is unethical in most circumstances. Use of standard-of-care treatment in addition to an alternative technique being tested may produce confounded or difficult-to-interpret results.[156]

Cancer researcher Andrew J. Vickers has stated:

Contrary to much popular and scientific writing, many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective. The label “unproven” is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been “disproven”.[157]

A research methods expert and author of Snake Oil Science, R. Barker Bausell, has stated that “it’s become politically correct to investigate nonsense.”[158] There are concerns that just having NIH support is being used to give unfounded “legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159]

Use of placebos to achieve a placebo effect in integrative medicine has been criticized as, “…diverting research time, money, and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology.”[57][58]

Another critic has argued that academic proponents of integrative medicine sometimes recommend misleading patients by using known placebo treatments to achieve a placebo effect.[n 15] However, a 2010 survey of family physicians found that 56% of respondents said they had used a placebo in clinical practice as well. Eighty-five percent of respondents believed placebos can have both psychological and physical benefits.[161]

Integrative medicine has been criticized in that its practitioners, trained in science-based medicine, deliberately mislead patients by pretending placebos are not. “quackademic medicine” is a pejorative term used for integrative medicine, which medical professionals consider an infiltration of quackery into academic science-based medicine.[58]

An analysis of trends in the criticism of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in five prestigious American medical journals during the period of reorganization within medicine (19651999) was reported as showing that the medical profession had responded to the growth of CAM in three phases, and that in each phase, changes in the medical marketplace had influenced the type of response in the journals.[162] Changes included relaxed medical licensing, the development of managed care, rising consumerism, and the establishment of the USA Office of Alternative Medicine (later National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, currently National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).[n 16] In the “condemnation” phase, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, authors had ridiculed, exaggerated the risks, and petitioned the state to contain CAM; in the “reassessment” phase (mid-1970s through early 1990s), when increased consumer utilization of CAM was prompting concern, authors had pondered whether patient dissatisfaction and shortcomings in conventional care contributed to the trend; in the “integration” phase of the 1990s physicians began learning to work around or administer CAM, and the subjugation of CAM to scientific scrutiny had become the primary means of control.[citation needed]

Practitioners of complementary medicine usually discuss and advise patients as to available alternative therapies. Patients often express interest in mind-body complementary therapies because they offer a non-drug approach to treating some health conditions.[164]

In addition to the social-cultural underpinnings of the popularity of alternative medicine, there are several psychological issues that are critical to its growth. One of the most critical is the placebo effect a well-established observation in medicine.[165] Related to it are similar psychological effects, such as the will to believe,[166] cognitive biases that help maintain self-esteem and promote harmonious social functioning,[166] and the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.[166]

The popularity of complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) may be related to other factors that Edzard Ernst mentioned in an interview in The Independent:

Why is it so popular, then? Ernst blames the providers, customers and the doctors whose neglect, he says, has created the opening into which alternative therapists have stepped. “People are told lies. There are 40 million websites and 39.9 million tell lies, sometimes outrageous lies. They mislead cancer patients, who are encouraged not only to pay their last penny but to be treated with something that shortens their lives. “At the same time, people are gullible. It needs gullibility for the industry to succeed. It doesn’t make me popular with the public, but it’s the truth.[167]

Paul Offit proposed that “alternative medicine becomes quackery” in four ways: by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful, promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning, draining patients’ bank accounts, or by promoting “magical thinking.”[45]

Authors have speculated on the socio-cultural and psychological reasons for the appeal of alternative medicines among the minority using them in lieu of conventional medicine. There are several socio-cultural reasons for the interest in these treatments centered on the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large and a concomitant increase in antiscientific attitudes and new age mysticism.[166] Related to this are vigorous marketing[168] of extravagant claims by the alternative medical community combined with inadequate media scrutiny and attacks on critics.[166][169]

There is also an increase in conspiracy theories toward conventional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, mistrust of traditional authority figures, such as the physician, and a dislike of the current delivery methods of scientific biomedicine, all of which have led patients to seek out alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments.[169] Many patients lack access to contemporary medicine, due to a lack of private or public health insurance, which leads them to seek out lower-cost alternative medicine.[170] Medical doctors are also aggressively marketing alternative medicine to profit from this market.[168]

Patients can be averse to the painful, unpleasant, and sometimes-dangerous side effects of biomedical treatments. Treatments for severe diseases such as cancer and HIV infection have well-known, significant side-effects. Even low-risk medications such as antibiotics can have potential to cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in a very few individuals. Many medications may cause minor but bothersome symptoms such as cough or upset stomach. In all of these cases, patients may be seeking out alternative treatments to avoid the adverse effects of conventional treatments.[166][169]

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been described as a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and that of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed.[72][dubious discuss]

According to recent research, the increasing popularity of the CAM needs to be explained by moral convictions or lifestyle choices rather than by economic reasoning.[171]

In developing nations, access to essential medicines is severely restricted by lack of resources and poverty. Traditional remedies, often closely resembling or forming the basis for alternative remedies, may comprise primary healthcare or be integrated into the healthcare system. In Africa, traditional medicine is used for 80% of primary healthcare, and in developing nations as a whole over one-third of the population lack access to essential medicines.[172]

Some have proposed adopting a prize system to reward medical research.[173] However, public funding for research exists. Increasing the funding for research on alternative medicine techniques is the purpose of the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCIH and its predecessor, the Office of Alternative Medicine, have spent more than US$2.5 billion on such research since 1992; this research has largely not demonstrated the efficacy of alternative treatments.[158][174][175][176]

That alternative medicine has been on the rise “in countries where Western science and scientific method generally are accepted as the major foundations for healthcare, and ‘evidence-based’ practice is the dominant paradigm” was described as an “enigma” in the Medical Journal of Australia.[177]

In the United States, the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) required that for states to receive federal money, they had to grant religious exemptions to child neglect and abuse laws regarding religion-based healing practices.[178] Thirty-one states have child-abuse religious exemptions.[179]

The use of alternative medicine in the US has increased,[1][180] with a 50 percent increase in expenditures and a 25 percent increase in the use of alternative therapies between 1990 and 1997 in America.[180] Americans spend many billions on the therapies annually.[180] Most Americans used CAM to treat and/or prevent musculoskeletal conditions or other conditions associated with chronic or recurring pain.[170] In America, women were more likely than men to use CAM, with the biggest difference in use of mind-body therapies including prayer specifically for health reasons”.[170] In 2008, more than 37% of American hospitals offered alternative therapies, up from 27 percent in 2005, and 25% in 2004.[181][182] More than 70% of the hospitals offering CAM were in urban areas.[182]

A survey of Americans found that 88 percent thought that “there are some good ways of treating sickness that medical science does not recognize”.[1] Use of magnets was the most common tool in energy medicine in America, and among users of it, 58 percent described it as at least “sort of scientific”, when it is not at all scientific.[1] In 2002, at least 60 percent of US medical schools have at least some class time spent teaching alternative therapies.[1] “Therapeutic touch”, was taught at more than 100 colleges and universities in 75 countries before the practice was debunked by a nine-year-old child for a school science project.[1][118]

The most common CAM therapies used in the US in 2002 were prayer (45%), herbalism (19%), breathing meditation (12%), meditation (8%), chiropractic medicine (8%), yoga (56%), body work (5%), diet-based therapy (4%), progressive relaxation (3%), mega-vitamin therapy (3%) and Visualization (2%)[170][183]

In Britain, the most often used alternative therapies were Alexander technique, Aromatherapy, Bach and other flower remedies, Body work therapies including massage, Counseling stress therapies, hypnotherapy, Meditation, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Ayurvedic medicine, Nutritional medicine, and Yoga.[184] Ayurvedic medicine remedies are mainly plant based with some use of animal materials. Safety concerns include the use of herbs containing toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities.[112][114]

According to the National Health Service (England), the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) supported by the NHS in the UK are: acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, osteopathy and clinical hypnotherapy.[186]

Complementary therapies are often used in palliative care or by practitioners attempting to manage chronic pain in patients. Integrative medicine is considered more acceptable in the interdisciplinary approach used in palliative care than in other areas of medicine. “From its early experiences of care for the dying, palliative care took for granted the necessity of placing patient values and lifestyle habits at the core of any design and delivery of quality care at the end of life. If the patient desired complementary therapies, and as long as such treatments provided additional support and did not endanger the patient, they were considered acceptable.”[187] The non-pharmacologic interventions of complementary medicine can employ mind-body interventions designed to “reduce pain and concomitant mood disturbance and increase quality of life.”[188]

In Austria and Germany complementary and alternative medicine is mainly in the hands of doctors with MDs,[41] and half or more of the American alternative practitioners are licensed MDs.[189] In Germany herbs are tightly regulated: half are prescribed by doctors and covered by health insurance.[190]

Some professions of complementary/traditional/alternative medicine, such as chiropractic, have achieved full regulation in North America and other parts of the world and are regulated in a manner similar to that governing science-based medicine. In contrast, other approaches may be partially recognized and others have no regulation at all. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine ranges widely from country to country, and state to state.

Government bodies in the US and elsewhere have published information or guidance about alternative medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has issued online warnings for consumers about medication health fraud.[192] This includes a section on Alternative Medicine Fraud,[193] such as a warning that Ayurvedic products generally have not been approved by the FDA before marketing.[194]

Many of the claims regarding the safety and efficacy of alternative medicine are controversial. Some alternative treatments have been associated with unexpected side effects, which can be fatal.[195]

A commonly voiced concerns about complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is the way it’s regulated. There have been significant developments in how CAMs should be assessed prior to re-sale in the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) in the last 2 years. Despite this, it has been suggested that current regulatory bodies have been ineffective in preventing deception of patients as many companies have re-labelled their drugs to avoid the new laws.[196] There is no general consensus about how to balance consumer protection (from false claims, toxicity, and advertising) with freedom to choose remedies.

Advocates of CAM suggest that regulation of the industry will adversely affect patients looking for alternative ways to manage their symptoms, even if many of the benefits may represent the placebo affect.[197] Some contend that alternative medicines should not require any more regulation than over-the-counter medicines that can also be toxic in overdose (such as paracetamol).[198]

Forms of alternative medicine that are biologically active can be dangerous even when used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Examples include immuno-augmentation therapy, shark cartilage, bioresonance therapy, oxygen and ozone therapies, and insulin potentiation therapy. Some herbal remedies can cause dangerous interactions with chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, or anesthetics during surgery, among other problems.[42] An anecdotal example of these dangers was reported by Associate Professor Alastair MacLennan of Adelaide University, Australia regarding a patient who almost bled to death on the operating table after neglecting to mention that she had been taking “natural” potions to “build up her strength” before the operation, including a powerful anticoagulant that nearly caused her death.[199]

To ABC Online, MacLennan also gives another possible mechanism:

And lastly [sic] there’s the cynicism and disappointment and depression that some patients get from going on from one alternative medicine to the next, and they find after three months the placebo effect wears off, and they’re disappointed and they move on to the next one, and they’re disappointed and disillusioned, and that can create depression and make the eventual treatment of the patient with anything effective difficult, because you may not get compliance, because they’ve seen the failure so often in the past.[200]

Conventional treatments are subjected to testing for undesired side-effects, whereas alternative treatments, in general, are not subjected to such testing at all. Any treatment whether conventional or alternative that has a biological or psychological effect on a patient may also have potential to possess dangerous biological or psychological side-effects. Attempts to refute this fact with regard to alternative treatments sometimes use the appeal to nature fallacy, i.e., “That which is natural cannot be harmful.” Specific groups of patients such as patients with impaired hepatic or renal function are more susceptible to side effects of alternative remedies.[201][202]

An exception to the normal thinking regarding side-effects is Homeopathy. Since 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated homeopathic products in “several significantly different ways from other drugs.”[203] Homeopathic preparations, termed “remedies”, are extremely dilute, often far beyond the point where a single molecule of the original active (and possibly toxic) ingredient is likely to remain. They are, thus, considered safe on that count, but “their products are exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength”, and their alcohol concentration may be much higher than allowed in conventional drugs.[203]

Those having experienced or perceived success with one alternative therapy for a minor ailment may be convinced of its efficacy and persuaded to extrapolate that success to some other alternative therapy for a more serious, possibly life-threatening illness.[204] For this reason, critics argue that therapies that rely on the placebo effect to define success are very dangerous. According to mental health journalist Scott Lilienfeld in 2002, “unvalidated or scientifically unsupported mental health practices can lead individuals to forgo effective treatments” and refers to this as “opportunity cost”. Individuals who spend large amounts of time and money on ineffective treatments may be left with precious little of either, and may forfeit the opportunity to obtain treatments that could be more helpful. In short, even innocuous treatments can indirectly produce negative outcomes.[205] Between 2001 and 2003, four children died in Australia because their parents chose ineffective naturopathic, homeopathic, or other alternative medicines and diets rather than conventional therapies.[206]

There have always been “many therapies offered outside of conventional cancer treatment centers and based on theories not found in biomedicine. These alternative cancer cures have often been described as ‘unproven,’ suggesting that appropriate clinical trials have not been conducted and that the therapeutic value of the treatment is unknown.” However, “many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective….The label ‘unproven’ is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been ‘disproven’.”[157]

Edzard Ernst has stated:

…any alternative cancer cure is bogus by definition. There will never be an alternative cancer cure. Why? Because if something looked halfway promising, then mainstream oncology would scrutinize it, and if there is anything to it, it would become mainstream almost automatically and very quickly. All curative “alternative cancer cures” are based on false claims, are bogus, and, I would say, even criminal.[207]

“CAM”, meaning “complementary and alternative medicine”, is not as well researched as conventional medicine, which undergoes intense research before release to the public.[208] Funding for research is also sparse making it difficult to do further research for effectiveness of CAM.[209] Most funding for CAM is funded by government agencies.[208] Proposed research for CAM are rejected by most private funding agencies because the results of research are not reliable.[208] The research for CAM has to meet certain standards from research ethics committees, which most CAM researchers find almost impossible to meet.[208] Even with the little research done on it, CAM has not been proven to be effective.[210]

Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, wrote that government funded studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream are “used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159] Marcia Angell considered that critics felt that healthcare practices should be classified based solely on scientific evidence, and if a treatment had been rigorously tested and found safe and effective, science-based medicine will adopt it regardless of whether it was considered “alternative” to begin with.[3] It is possible for a method to change categories (proven vs. unproven), based on increased knowledge of its effectiveness or lack thereof. A prominent supporter of this position is George D. Lundberg, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).[47]

Writing in 1999 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Barrie R. Cassileth mentioned a 1997 letter to the US Senate Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety, which had deplored the lack of critical thinking and scientific rigor in OAM-supported research, had been signed by four Nobel Laureates and other prominent scientists. (This was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).)[211]

In March 2009 a staff writer for the Washington Post reported that the impending national discussion about broadening access to health care, improving medical practice and saving money was giving a group of scientists an opening to propose shutting down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They quoted one of these scientists, Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, as saying “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.” They noted that the vast majority of studies were based on fundamental misunderstandings of physiology and disease, and had shown little or no effect.[159]

Writers such as Carl Sagan, a noted astrophysicist, advocate of scientific skepticism and the author of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), have lambasted the lack of empirical evidence to support the existence of the putative energy fields on which these therapies are predicated.

Sampson has also pointed out that CAM tolerated contradiction without thorough reason and experiment.[212] Barrett has pointed out that there is a policy at the NIH of never saying something doesn’t work only that a different version or dose might give different results.[158] Barrett also expressed concern that, just because some “alternatives” have merit, there is the impression that the rest deserve equal consideration and respect even though most are worthless, since they are all classified under the one heading of alternative medicine.[213]

Some critics of alternative medicine are focused upon health fraud, misinformation, and quackery as public health problems, notably Wallace Sampson and Paul Kurtz founders of Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and Stephen Barrett, co-founder of The National Council Against Health Fraud and webmaster of Quackwatch.[214] Grounds for opposing alternative medicine include that:

Many alternative medical treatments are not patentable,[citation needed] which may lead to less research funding from the private sector. In addition, in most countries, alternative treatments (in contrast to pharmaceuticals) can be marketed without any proof of efficacy also a disincentive for manufacturers to fund scientific research.[220]

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Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Category:Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative medicine encompasses methods used in both complementary medicine and alternative medicine, known collectively as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These methods are used in place of (“alternative to”), or in addition to (“complementary to”), conventional medical treatments. The terms are primarily used in the western world, and include several traditional medicine techniques practiced throughout the world.

If you add something to this category it should also be added to list of forms of alternative medicine.

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Category:Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative Medicine

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Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Alternative medicineAM, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), complementary medicine, heterodox medicine, integrative medicine (IM), complementary and integrative medicine (CIM), new-age medicine, unconventional medicine, unorthodox medicineHow alternative treatments “work”:a) Misinterpreted natural course the individual gets better without treatment.b) Placebo effect or false treatment effect an individual receives “alternative therapy” and is convinced it will help. The conviction makes them more likely to get better.c) Nocebo effect an individual is convinced that standard treatment will not work, and that alternative treatment will work. This decreases the likelyhood standard treatment will work, while the placebo effect of the “alternative” remains.d) No adverse effects Standard treatment is replaced with “alternative” treatment, getting rid of adverse effects, but also of improvement.e) Interference Standard treatment is “complemented” with something that interferes with its effect. This can both cause worse effect, but also decreased (or even increased) side effects, which may be interpreted as “helping”.Researchers such as epidemiologists, clinical statisticians and pharmacologists use clinical trials to tease out such effects, allowing doctors to offer only that which has been shown to work. “Alternative treatments” often refuse to use trials or make it deliberately hard to do so.

Alternative medicine, fringe medicine, pseudomedicine or simply questionable medicine is the use and promotion of practices which are unproven, disproven, impossible to prove, or excessively harmful in relation to their effect in the attempt to achieve the healing effects of medicine. They differ from experimental medicine in that the latter employs responsible investigation, and accepts results that show it to be ineffective. The scientific consensus is that alternative therapies either do not, or cannot, work. In some cases laws of nature are violated by their basic claims; in some the treatment is so much worse that its use is unethical. Alternative practices, products, and therapies range from only ineffective to having known harmful and toxic effects.

Alternative therapies may be credited for perceived improvement through placebo effects, decreased use or effect of medical treatment (and therefore either decreased side effects; or nocebo effects towards standard treatment), or the natural course of the condition or disease. Alternative treatment is not the same as experimental treatment or traditional medicine, although both can be misused in ways that are alternative. Alternative or complementary medicine is dangerous because it may discourage people from getting the best possible treatment, and may lead to a false understanding of the body and of science.

Alternative medicine is used by a significant number of people, though its popularity is often overstated. Large amounts of funding go to testing alternative medicine, with more than US$2.5 billion spent by the United States government alone. Almost none show any effect beyond that of false treatment, and most studies showing any effect have been statistical flukes. Alternative medicine is a highly profitable industry, with a strong lobby. This fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively when compared to “big pharma”. The lobby has successfully pushed for alternative therapies to be subject to far less regulation than conventional medicine. Alternative therapies may even be allowed to promote use when there is demonstrably no effect, only a tradition of use. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine and health care providers varies between and within countries. Despite laws making it illegal to market or promote alternative therapies for use in cancer treatment, many practitioners promote them. Alternative medicine is criticized for taking advantage of the weakest members of society. For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine before obtaining its current name. Therapies are often framed as “natural” or “holistic”, in apparent opposition to conventional medicine which is “artificial” and “narrow in scope”, statements which are intentionally misleading. When used together with functional medical treatment, alternative therapies do not “complement” (improve the effect of, or mitigate the side effects of) treatment. Significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively impact functional treatment, making it less effective, notably in cancer.

Alternative diagnoses and treatments are not part of medicine, or of science-based curricula in medical schools, nor are they used in any practice based on scientific knowledge or experience. Alternative therapies are often based on religious belief, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or lies. Alternative medicine is based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, and poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine that has no scientific basis has been called a waste of scarce research resources. Critics state that “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”, that the very idea of “alternative” treatments is paradoxical, as any treatment proven to work is by definition “medicine”.

Alternative medicine is defined loosely as a set of products, practices, and theories that are believed or perceived by their users to have the healing effects of medicine,[n 1][n 2] but whose effectiveness has not been clearly established using scientific methods,[n 1][n 3][4][5][6][7] or whose theory and practice is not part of biomedicine,[n 2][n 4][n 5][n 6] or whose theories or practices are directly contradicted by scientific evidence or scientific principles used in biomedicine.[4][5][11] “Biomedicine” or “medicine” is that part of medical science that applies principles of biology, physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice. Unlike medicine,[n 4] an alternative product or practice does not originate from using scientific methods, but may instead be based on hearsay, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources.[n 3][1][4][5]

In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.[12]

The expression also refers to a diverse range of related and unrelated products, practices, and theories ranging from biologically plausible practices and products and practices with some evidence, to practices and theories that are directly contradicted by basic science or clear evidence, and products that have been conclusively proven to be ineffective or even toxic and harmful.[n 2][14][15]

The terms alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, unorthodox medicine, fringe medicine, unconventional medicine, and new age medicine are used interchangeably as having the same meaning and are almost synonymous in some contexts,[16][17][18][19] but may have different meanings in some rare cases.

The meaning of the term “alternative” in the expression “alternative medicine”, is not that it is an effective alternative to medical science, although some alternative medicine promoters may use the loose terminology to give the appearance of effectiveness.[4][20] Loose terminology may also be used to suggest meaning that a dichotomy exists when it does not, e.g., the use of the expressions “western medicine” and “eastern medicine” to suggest that the difference is a cultural difference between the Asiatic east and the European west, rather than that the difference is between evidence-based medicine and treatments that don’t work.[4]

Complementary medicine (CM) or integrative medicine (IM) is when alternative medicine is used together with functional medical treatment, in a belief that it improves the effect of treatments.[n 7][1][22][23][24] However, significant drug interactions caused by alternative therapies may instead negatively influence treatment, making treatments less effective, notably cancer therapy.[25][26] Both terms refer to use of alternative medical treatments alongside conventional medicine,[27][28][29] an example of which is use of acupuncture (sticking needles in the body to influence the flow of a supernatural energy), along with using science-based medicine, in the belief that the acupuncture increases the effectiveness or “complements” the science-based medicine.[29]

Allopathic medicine or allopathy is an expression commonly used by homeopaths and proponents of other forms of alternative medicine to refer to mainstream medicine. It was used to describe the traditional European practice of heroic medicine, which was based on balance of the four “humours” (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) where disease was caused by an excess of one humour, and would thus be treated with its opposite.[30] This description continued to be used to describe anything that was not homeopathy.[30] Apart from in India, the term is not used outside alternative medicine and not accepted by the medical field.

Allopathy refers to the use of pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions.[31] The German version of the word, allopathisch, was coined in 1810 by the creator of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann (17551843).[32] The word was coined from allo- (different) and -pathic (relating to a disease or to a method of treatment).[33] In alternative medicine circles the expression “allopathic medicine” is still used to refer to “the broad category of medical practice that is sometimes called Western medicine, biomedicine, evidence-based medicine, or modern medicine” (see the article on scientific medicine).[34]

Use of the term remains common among homeopaths and has spread to other alternative medicine practices. The meaning implied by the label has never been accepted by conventional medicine and is considered pejorative.[35] More recently, some sources have used the term “allopathic”, particularly American sources wishing to distinguish between Doctors of Medicine (MD) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) in the United States.[32][36] William Jarvis, an expert on alternative medicine and public health,[37] states that “although many modern therapies can be construed to conform to an allopathic rationale (e.g., using a laxative to relieve constipation), standard medicine has never paid allegiance to an allopathic principle” and that the label “allopath” was from the start “considered highly derisive by regular medicine”.[38]

Many conventional medical treatments clearly do not fit the nominal definition of allopathy, as they seek to prevent illness, or remove its cause.[39][40]

CAM is an abbreviation of complementary and alternative medicine.[41][42] It has also been called sCAM or SCAM with the addition of “so-called” or “supplements”.[43][44] The words balance and holism are often used, claiming to take into account a “whole” person, in contrast to the supposed reductionism of medicine. Due to its many names the field has been criticized for intense rebranding of what are essentially the same practices: as soon as one name is declared synonymous with quackery, a new name is chosen.[16]

Traditional medicine refers to the pre-scientific practices of a certain culture, contrary to what is typically practiced in other cultures where medical science dominates.

“Eastern medicine” typically refers to the traditional medicines of Asia where conventional bio-medicine penetrated much later.

Prominent members of the science[45][46] and biomedical science community[3] say that it is not meaningful to define an alternative medicine that is separate from a conventional medicine, that the expressions “conventional medicine”, “alternative medicine”, “complementary medicine”, “integrative medicine”, and “holistic medicine” do not refer to any medicine at all.[45][3][46][47]

Others in both the biomedical and CAM communities say that CAM cannot be precisely defined because of the diversity of theories and practices it includes, and because the boundaries between CAM and biomedicine overlap, are porous, and change. The expression “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) resists easy definition because the health systems and practices it refers to are diffuse, and its boundaries poorly defined.[14][n 8] Healthcare practices categorized as alternative may differ in their historical origin, theoretical basis, diagnostic technique, therapeutic practice and in their relationship to the medical mainstream. Some alternative therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, have antique origins in East or South Asia and are entirely alternative medical systems;[52] others, such as homeopathy and chiropractic, have origins in Europe or the United States and emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some, such as osteopathy and chiropractic, employ manipulative physical methods of treatment; others, such as meditation and prayer, are based on mind-body interventions. Treatments considered alternative in one location may be considered conventional in another.[55] Thus, chiropractic is not considered alternative in Denmark and likewise osteopathic medicine is no longer thought of as an alternative therapy in the United States.[55]

Critics say the expression is deceptive because it implies there is an effective alternative to science-based medicine, and that complementary is deceptive because it implies that the treatment increases the effectiveness of (complements) science-based medicine, while alternative medicines that have been tested nearly always have no measurable positive effect compared to a placebo.[4][56][57][58]

One common feature of all definitions of alternative medicine is its designation as “other than” conventional medicine. For example, the widely referenced descriptive definition of complementary and alternative medicine devised by the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), states that it is “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine”.[61] For conventional medical practitioners, it does not necessarily follow that either it or its practitioners would no longer be considered alternative.[n 9]

Some definitions seek to specify alternative medicine in terms of its social and political marginality to mainstream healthcare.[64] This can refer to the lack of support that alternative therapies receive from the medical establishment and related bodies regarding access to research funding, sympathetic coverage in the medical press, or inclusion in the standard medical curriculum.[64] In 1993, the British Medical Association (BMA), one among many professional organizations who have attempted to define alternative medicine, stated that it[n 10] referred to “…those forms of treatment which are not widely used by the conventional healthcare professions, and the skills of which are not taught as part of the undergraduate curriculum of conventional medical and paramedical healthcare courses”.[65] In a US context, an influential definition coined in 1993 by the Harvard-based physician,[66] David M. Eisenberg,[67] characterized alternative medicine “as interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals”.[68] These descriptive definitions are inadequate in the present-day when some conventional doctors offer alternative medical treatments and CAM introductory courses or modules can be offered as part of standard undergraduate medical training;[69] alternative medicine is taught in more than 50 per cent of US medical schools and increasingly US health insurers are willing to provide reimbursement for CAM therapies. In 1999, 7.7% of US hospitals reported using some form of CAM therapy; this proportion had risen to 37.7% by 2008.[71]

An expert panel at a conference hosted in 1995 by the US Office for Alternative Medicine (OAM),[72][n 11] devised a theoretical definition[72] of alternative medicine as “a broad domain of healing resources… other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period”.[74] This definition has been widely adopted by CAM researchers,[72] cited by official government bodies such as the UK Department of Health,[75] attributed as the definition used by the Cochrane Collaboration,[76] and, with some modification,[dubious discuss] was preferred in the 2005 consensus report of the US Institute of Medicine, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States.[n 2]

The 1995 OAM conference definition, an expansion of Eisenberg’s 1993 formulation, is silent regarding questions of the medical effectiveness of alternative therapies.[77] Its proponents hold that it thus avoids relativism about differing forms of medical knowledge and, while it is an essentially political definition, this should not imply that the dominance of mainstream biomedicine is solely due to political forces.[77] According to this definition, alternative and mainstream medicine can only be differentiated with reference to what is “intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society of culture”.[78] However, there is neither a reliable method to distinguish between cultures and subcultures, nor to attribute them as dominant or subordinate, nor any accepted criteria to determine the dominance of a cultural entity.[78] If the culture of a politically dominant healthcare system is held to be equivalent to the perspectives of those charged with the medical management of leading healthcare institutions and programs, the definition fails to recognize the potential for division either within such an elite or between a healthcare elite and the wider population.[78]

Normative definitions distinguish alternative medicine from the biomedical mainstream in its provision of therapies that are unproven, unvalidated, or ineffective and support of theories with no recognized scientific basis. These definitions characterize practices as constituting alternative medicine when, used independently or in place of evidence-based medicine, they are put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but are not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method.[1][3][27][28][61][80] Exemplifying this perspective, a 1998 editorial co-authored by Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, argued that:

It is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride. There cannot be two kinds of medicine conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted. But assertions, speculation, and testimonials do not substitute for evidence. Alternative treatments should be subjected to scientific testing no less rigorous than that required for conventional treatments.[3]

This line of division has been subject to criticism, however, as not all forms of standard medical practice have adequately demonstrated evidence of benefit,[n 4][81] and it is also unlikely in most instances that conventional therapies, if proven to be ineffective, would ever be classified as CAM.[72]

Similarly, the public information website maintained by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Commonwealth of Australia uses the acronym “CAM” for a wide range of health care practices, therapies, procedures and devices not within the domain of conventional medicine. In the Australian context this is stated to include acupuncture; aromatherapy; chiropractic; homeopathy; massage; meditation and relaxation therapies; naturopathy; osteopathy; reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine; and the use of vitamin supplements.[83]

The Danish National Board of Health’s “Council for Alternative Medicine” (Sundhedsstyrelsens Rd for Alternativ Behandling (SRAB)), an independent institution under the National Board of Health (Danish: Sundhedsstyrelsen), uses the term “alternative medicine” for:

Proponents of an evidence-base for medicine[n 12][86][87][88][89] such as the Cochrane Collaboration (founded in 1993 and from 2011 providing input for WHO resolutions) take a position that all systematic reviews of treatments, whether “mainstream” or “alternative”, ought to be held to the current standards of scientific method.[90] In a study titled Development and classification of an operational definition of complementary and alternative medicine for the Cochrane Collaboration (2011) it was proposed that indicators that a therapy is accepted include government licensing of practitioners, coverage by health insurance, statements of approval by government agencies, and recommendation as part of a practice guideline; and that if something is currently a standard, accepted therapy, then it is not likely to be widely considered as CAM.[72]

Alternative medicine consists of a wide range of health care practices, products, and therapies. The shared feature is a claim to heal that is not based on the scientific method. Alternative medicine practices are diverse in their foundations and methodologies.[61] Alternative medicine practices may be classified by their cultural origins or by the types of beliefs upon which they are based.[1][4][11][61] Methods may incorporate or be based on traditional medicinal practices of a particular culture, folk knowledge, superstition, spiritual beliefs, belief in supernatural energies (antiscience), pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, new or different concepts of health and disease, and any bases other than being proven by scientific methods.[1][4][5][11] Different cultures may have their own unique traditional or belief based practices developed recently or over thousands of years, and specific practices or entire systems of practices.

Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.[61]

Alternative medical systems may be based on traditional medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda in India, or practices of other cultures around the world.[61] Some useful applications of traditional medicines have been researched and accepted within ordinary medicine, however the underlying belief systems are seldom scientific and are not accepted.

Traditional medicine is considered alternative when it is used outside its home region; or when it is used together with or instead of known functional treatment; or when it can be reasonably expected that the patient or practitioner knows or should know that it will not work such as knowing that the practice is based on superstition.

Since ancient times, in many parts of the world a number of herbs reputed to possess abortifacient properties have been used in folk medicine. Among these are: tansy, pennyroyal, black cohosh, and the now-extinct silphium.[101]:4447, 6263, 15455, 23031 Historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz has written of the probable protoscientific origins of this folk knowledge in observation of farm animals. Women who knew that grazing on certain plants would cause an animal to abort (with negative economic consequences for the farm) would be likely to try out those plants on themselves in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.[102]:120

However, modern users of these plants often lack knowledge of the proper preparation and dosage. The historian of medicine John Riddle has spoken of the “broken chain of knowledge” caused by urbanization and modernization,[101]:167205 and Koblitz has written that “folk knowledge about effective contraception techniques often disappears over time or becomes inextricably mixed with useless or harmful practices.”[102]:vii The ill-informed or indiscriminant use of herbs as abortifacients can cause serious and even lethal side-effects.[103][104]

Bases of belief may include belief in existence of supernatural energies undetected by the science of physics, as in biofields, or in belief in properties of the energies of physics that are inconsistent with the laws of physics, as in energy medicine.[61]

Substance based practices use substances found in nature such as herbs, foods, non-vitamin supplements and megavitamins, animal and fungal products, and minerals, including use of these products in traditional medical practices that may also incorporate other methods.[61][119][120] Examples include healing claims for nonvitamin supplements, fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil, and ginseng.[121] Herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, includes not just the use of plant products, but may also include the use of animal and mineral products.[119] It is among the most commercially successful branches of alternative medicine, and includes the tablets, powders and elixirs that are sold as “nutritional supplements”.[119] Only a very small percentage of these have been shown to have any efficacy, and there is little regulation as to standards and safety of their contents.[119] This may include use of known toxic substances, such as use of the poison lead in traditional Chinese medicine.[121]

A US agency, National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has created a classification system for branches of complementary and alternative medicine that divides them into five major groups. These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.[125] None of these energies have any evidence to support that they effect the body in any positive or health promoting way.[30]

The history of alternative medicine may refer to the history of a group of diverse medical practices that were collectively promoted as “alternative medicine” beginning in the 1970s, to the collection of individual histories of members of that group, or to the history of western medical practices that were labeled “irregular practices” by the western medical establishment.[4][126][127][128][129] It includes the histories of complementary medicine and of integrative medicine. Before the 1970s, western practitioners that were not part of the increasingly science-based medical establishment were referred to “irregular practitioners”, and were dismissed by the medical establishment as unscientific and as practicing quackery.[126][127] Until the 1970’s, irregular practice became increasingly marginalized as quackery and fraud, as western medicine increasingly incorporated scientific methods and discoveries, and had a corresponding increase in success of its treatments.[128] In the 1970s, irregular practices were grouped with traditional practices of nonwestern cultures and with other unproven or disproven practices that were not part of biomedicine, with the entire group collectively marketed and promoted under the single expression “alternative medicine”.[4][126][127][128][130]

Use of alternative medicine in the west began to rise following the counterculture movement of the 1960s, as part of the rising new age movement of the 1970s.[4][131][132] This was due to misleading mass marketing of “alternative medicine” being an effective “alternative” to biomedicine, changing social attitudes about not using chemicals and challenging the establishment and authority of any kind, sensitivity to giving equal measure to beliefs and practices of other cultures (cultural relativism), and growing frustration and desperation by patients about limitations and side effects of science-based medicine.[4][127][128][129][130][132][133] At the same time, in 1975, the American Medical Association, which played the central role in fighting quackery in the United States, abolished its quackery committee and closed down its Department of Investigation.[126]:xxi[133] By the early to mid 1970s the expression “alternative medicine” came into widespread use, and the expression became mass marketed as a collection of “natural” and effective treatment “alternatives” to science-based biomedicine.[4][133][134][135] By 1983, mass marketing of “alternative medicine” was so pervasive that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) pointed to “an apparently endless stream of books, articles, and radio and television programmes urge on the public the virtues of (alternative medicine) treatments ranging from meditation to drilling a hole in the skull to let in more oxygen”.[133]

Mainly as a result of reforms following the Flexner Report of 1910[136] medical education in established medical schools in the US has generally not included alternative medicine as a teaching topic.[n 14] Typically, their teaching is based on current practice and scientific knowledge about: anatomy, physiology, histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology and immunology.[138] Medical schools’ teaching includes such topics as doctor-patient communication, ethics, the art of medicine,[139] and engaging in complex clinical reasoning (medical decision-making).[140] Writing in 2002, Snyderman and Weil remarked that by the early twentieth century the Flexner model had helped to create the 20th-century academic health center, in which education, research, and practice were inseparable. While this had much improved medical practice by defining with increasing certainty the pathophysiological basis of disease, a single-minded focus on the pathophysiological had diverted much of mainstream American medicine from clinical conditions that were not well understood in mechanistic terms, and were not effectively treated by conventional therapies.[141]

By 2001 some form of CAM training was being offered by at least 75 out of 125 medical schools in the US.[142] Exceptionally, the School of Medicine of the University of Maryland, Baltimore includes a research institute for integrative medicine (a member entity of the Cochrane Collaboration).[90][143] Medical schools are responsible for conferring medical degrees, but a physician typically may not legally practice medicine until licensed by the local government authority. Licensed physicians in the US who have attended one of the established medical schools there have usually graduated Doctor of Medicine (MD).[144] All states require that applicants for MD licensure be graduates of an approved medical school and complete the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).[144]

There is a general scientific consensus that alternative therapies lack the requisite scientific validation, and their effectiveness is either unproved or disproved.[1][4][145][146] Many of the claims regarding the efficacy of alternative medicines are controversial, since research on them is frequently of low quality and methodologically flawed. Selective publication bias, marked differences in product quality and standardisation, and some companies making unsubstantiated claims call into question the claims of efficacy of isolated examples where there is evidence for alternative therapies.[148]

The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine points to confusions in the general population a person may attribute symptomatic relief to an otherwise-ineffective therapy just because they are taking something (the placebo effect); the natural recovery from or the cyclical nature of an illness (the regression fallacy) gets misattributed to an alternative medicine being taken; a person not diagnosed with science-based medicine may never originally have had a true illness diagnosed as an alternative disease category.[149]

Edzard Ernst characterized the evidence for many alternative techniques as weak, nonexistent, or negative[150] and in 2011 published his estimate that about 7.4% were based on “sound evidence”, although he believes that may be an overestimate.[151] Ernst has concluded that 95% of the alternative treatments he and his team studied, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and reflexology, are “statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments”, but he also believes there is something that conventional doctors can usefully learn from the chiropractors and homeopath: this is the therapeutic value of the placebo effect, one of the strangest phenomena in medicine.[152][153]

In 2003, a project funded by the CDC identified 208 condition-treatment pairs, of which 58% had been studied by at least one randomized controlled trial (RCT), and 23% had been assessed with a meta-analysis.[154] According to a 2005 book by a US Institute of Medicine panel, the number of RCTs focused on CAM has risen dramatically.

As of 2005[update], the Cochrane Library had 145 CAM-related Cochrane systematic reviews and 340 non-Cochrane systematic reviews. An analysis of the conclusions of only the 145 Cochrane reviews was done by two readers. In 83% of the cases, the readers agreed. In the 17% in which they disagreed, a third reader agreed with one of the initial readers to set a rating. These studies found that, for CAM, 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly positive (12.4%), 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.7% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6% concluded insufficient evidence. An assessment of conventional treatments found that 41.3% concluded positive or possibly positive effect, 20% concluded no effect, 8.1% concluded net harmful effects, and 21.3% concluded insufficient evidence. However, the CAM review used the more developed 2004 Cochrane database, while the conventional review used the initial 1998 Cochrane database.

In the same way as for conventional therapies, drugs, and interventions, it can be difficult to test the efficacy of alternative medicine in clinical trials. In instances where an established, effective, treatment for a condition is already available, the Helsinki Declaration states that withholding such treatment is unethical in most circumstances. Use of standard-of-care treatment in addition to an alternative technique being tested may produce confounded or difficult-to-interpret results.[156]

Cancer researcher Andrew J. Vickers has stated:

Contrary to much popular and scientific writing, many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective. The label “unproven” is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been “disproven”.[157]

A research methods expert and author of Snake Oil Science, R. Barker Bausell, has stated that “it’s become politically correct to investigate nonsense.”[158] There are concerns that just having NIH support is being used to give unfounded “legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159]

Use of placebos to achieve a placebo effect in integrative medicine has been criticized as, “…diverting research time, money, and other resources from more fruitful lines of investigation in order to pursue a theory that has no basis in biology.”[57][58]

Another critic has argued that academic proponents of integrative medicine sometimes recommend misleading patients by using known placebo treatments to achieve a placebo effect.[n 15] However, a 2010 survey of family physicians found that 56% of respondents said they had used a placebo in clinical practice as well. Eighty-five percent of respondents believed placebos can have both psychological and physical benefits.[161]

Integrative medicine has been criticized in that its practitioners, trained in science-based medicine, deliberately mislead patients by pretending placebos are not. “quackademic medicine” is a pejorative term used for integrative medicine, which medical professionals consider an infiltration of quackery into academic science-based medicine.[58]

An analysis of trends in the criticism of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in five prestigious American medical journals during the period of reorganization within medicine (19651999) was reported as showing that the medical profession had responded to the growth of CAM in three phases, and that in each phase, changes in the medical marketplace had influenced the type of response in the journals.[162] Changes included relaxed medical licensing, the development of managed care, rising consumerism, and the establishment of the USA Office of Alternative Medicine (later National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, currently National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).[n 16] In the “condemnation” phase, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, authors had ridiculed, exaggerated the risks, and petitioned the state to contain CAM; in the “reassessment” phase (mid-1970s through early 1990s), when increased consumer utilization of CAM was prompting concern, authors had pondered whether patient dissatisfaction and shortcomings in conventional care contributed to the trend; in the “integration” phase of the 1990s physicians began learning to work around or administer CAM, and the subjugation of CAM to scientific scrutiny had become the primary means of control.[citation needed]

Practitioners of complementary medicine usually discuss and advise patients as to available alternative therapies. Patients often express interest in mind-body complementary therapies because they offer a non-drug approach to treating some health conditions.[164]

In addition to the social-cultural underpinnings of the popularity of alternative medicine, there are several psychological issues that are critical to its growth. One of the most critical is the placebo effect a well-established observation in medicine.[165] Related to it are similar psychological effects, such as the will to believe,[166] cognitive biases that help maintain self-esteem and promote harmonious social functioning,[166] and the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.[166]

The popularity of complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) may be related to other factors that Edzard Ernst mentioned in an interview in The Independent:

Why is it so popular, then? Ernst blames the providers, customers and the doctors whose neglect, he says, has created the opening into which alternative therapists have stepped. “People are told lies. There are 40 million websites and 39.9 million tell lies, sometimes outrageous lies. They mislead cancer patients, who are encouraged not only to pay their last penny but to be treated with something that shortens their lives. “At the same time, people are gullible. It needs gullibility for the industry to succeed. It doesn’t make me popular with the public, but it’s the truth.[167]

Paul Offit proposed that “alternative medicine becomes quackery” in four ways: by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful, promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning, draining patients’ bank accounts, or by promoting “magical thinking.”[45]

Authors have speculated on the socio-cultural and psychological reasons for the appeal of alternative medicines among the minority using them in lieu of conventional medicine. There are several socio-cultural reasons for the interest in these treatments centered on the low level of scientific literacy among the public at large and a concomitant increase in antiscientific attitudes and new age mysticism.[166] Related to this are vigorous marketing[168] of extravagant claims by the alternative medical community combined with inadequate media scrutiny and attacks on critics.[166][169]

There is also an increase in conspiracy theories toward conventional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, mistrust of traditional authority figures, such as the physician, and a dislike of the current delivery methods of scientific biomedicine, all of which have led patients to seek out alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments.[169] Many patients lack access to contemporary medicine, due to a lack of private or public health insurance, which leads them to seek out lower-cost alternative medicine.[170] Medical doctors are also aggressively marketing alternative medicine to profit from this market.[168]

Patients can be averse to the painful, unpleasant, and sometimes-dangerous side effects of biomedical treatments. Treatments for severe diseases such as cancer and HIV infection have well-known, significant side-effects. Even low-risk medications such as antibiotics can have potential to cause life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in a very few individuals. Many medications may cause minor but bothersome symptoms such as cough or upset stomach. In all of these cases, patients may be seeking out alternative treatments to avoid the adverse effects of conventional treatments.[166][169]

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been described as a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and that of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed.[72][dubious discuss]

According to recent research, the increasing popularity of the CAM needs to be explained by moral convictions or lifestyle choices rather than by economic reasoning.[171]

In developing nations, access to essential medicines is severely restricted by lack of resources and poverty. Traditional remedies, often closely resembling or forming the basis for alternative remedies, may comprise primary healthcare or be integrated into the healthcare system. In Africa, traditional medicine is used for 80% of primary healthcare, and in developing nations as a whole over one-third of the population lack access to essential medicines.[172]

Some have proposed adopting a prize system to reward medical research.[173] However, public funding for research exists. Increasing the funding for research on alternative medicine techniques is the purpose of the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCIH and its predecessor, the Office of Alternative Medicine, have spent more than US$2.5 billion on such research since 1992; this research has largely not demonstrated the efficacy of alternative treatments.[158][174][175][176]

That alternative medicine has been on the rise “in countries where Western science and scientific method generally are accepted as the major foundations for healthcare, and ‘evidence-based’ practice is the dominant paradigm” was described as an “enigma” in the Medical Journal of Australia.[177]

In the United States, the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) required that for states to receive federal money, they had to grant religious exemptions to child neglect and abuse laws regarding religion-based healing practices.[178] Thirty-one states have child-abuse religious exemptions.[179]

The use of alternative medicine in the US has increased,[1][180] with a 50 percent increase in expenditures and a 25 percent increase in the use of alternative therapies between 1990 and 1997 in America.[180] Americans spend many billions on the therapies annually.[180] Most Americans used CAM to treat and/or prevent musculoskeletal conditions or other conditions associated with chronic or recurring pain.[170] In America, women were more likely than men to use CAM, with the biggest difference in use of mind-body therapies including prayer specifically for health reasons”.[170] In 2008, more than 37% of American hospitals offered alternative therapies, up from 27 percent in 2005, and 25% in 2004.[181][182] More than 70% of the hospitals offering CAM were in urban areas.[182]

A survey of Americans found that 88 percent thought that “there are some good ways of treating sickness that medical science does not recognize”.[1] Use of magnets was the most common tool in energy medicine in America, and among users of it, 58 percent described it as at least “sort of scientific”, when it is not at all scientific.[1] In 2002, at least 60 percent of US medical schools have at least some class time spent teaching alternative therapies.[1] “Therapeutic touch”, was taught at more than 100 colleges and universities in 75 countries before the practice was debunked by a nine-year-old child for a school science project.[1][118]

The most common CAM therapies used in the US in 2002 were prayer (45%), herbalism (19%), breathing meditation (12%), meditation (8%), chiropractic medicine (8%), yoga (56%), body work (5%), diet-based therapy (4%), progressive relaxation (3%), mega-vitamin therapy (3%) and Visualization (2%)[170][183]

In Britain, the most often used alternative therapies were Alexander technique, Aromatherapy, Bach and other flower remedies, Body work therapies including massage, Counseling stress therapies, hypnotherapy, Meditation, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Ayurvedic medicine, Nutritional medicine, and Yoga.[184] Ayurvedic medicine remedies are mainly plant based with some use of animal materials. Safety concerns include the use of herbs containing toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities.[112][114]

According to the National Health Service (England), the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) supported by the NHS in the UK are: acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, osteopathy and clinical hypnotherapy.[186]

Complementary therapies are often used in palliative care or by practitioners attempting to manage chronic pain in patients. Integrative medicine is considered more acceptable in the interdisciplinary approach used in palliative care than in other areas of medicine. “From its early experiences of care for the dying, palliative care took for granted the necessity of placing patient values and lifestyle habits at the core of any design and delivery of quality care at the end of life. If the patient desired complementary therapies, and as long as such treatments provided additional support and did not endanger the patient, they were considered acceptable.”[187] The non-pharmacologic interventions of complementary medicine can employ mind-body interventions designed to “reduce pain and concomitant mood disturbance and increase quality of life.”[188]

In Austria and Germany complementary and alternative medicine is mainly in the hands of doctors with MDs,[41] and half or more of the American alternative practitioners are licensed MDs.[189] In Germany herbs are tightly regulated: half are prescribed by doctors and covered by health insurance.[190]

Some professions of complementary/traditional/alternative medicine, such as chiropractic, have achieved full regulation in North America and other parts of the world and are regulated in a manner similar to that governing science-based medicine. In contrast, other approaches may be partially recognized and others have no regulation at all. Regulation and licensing of alternative medicine ranges widely from country to country, and state to state.

Government bodies in the US and elsewhere have published information or guidance about alternative medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has issued online warnings for consumers about medication health fraud.[192] This includes a section on Alternative Medicine Fraud,[193] such as a warning that Ayurvedic products generally have not been approved by the FDA before marketing.[194]

Many of the claims regarding the safety and efficacy of alternative medicine are controversial. Some alternative treatments have been associated with unexpected side effects, which can be fatal.[195]

A commonly voiced concerns about complementary alternative medicine (CAM) is the way it’s regulated. There have been significant developments in how CAMs should be assessed prior to re-sale in the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) in the last 2 years. Despite this, it has been suggested that current regulatory bodies have been ineffective in preventing deception of patients as many companies have re-labelled their drugs to avoid the new laws.[196] There is no general consensus about how to balance consumer protection (from false claims, toxicity, and advertising) with freedom to choose remedies.

Advocates of CAM suggest that regulation of the industry will adversely affect patients looking for alternative ways to manage their symptoms, even if many of the benefits may represent the placebo affect.[197] Some contend that alternative medicines should not require any more regulation than over-the-counter medicines that can also be toxic in overdose (such as paracetamol).[198]

Forms of alternative medicine that are biologically active can be dangerous even when used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Examples include immuno-augmentation therapy, shark cartilage, bioresonance therapy, oxygen and ozone therapies, and insulin potentiation therapy. Some herbal remedies can cause dangerous interactions with chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, or anesthetics during surgery, among other problems.[42] An anecdotal example of these dangers was reported by Associate Professor Alastair MacLennan of Adelaide University, Australia regarding a patient who almost bled to death on the operating table after neglecting to mention that she had been taking “natural” potions to “build up her strength” before the operation, including a powerful anticoagulant that nearly caused her death.[199]

To ABC Online, MacLennan also gives another possible mechanism:

And lastly [sic] there’s the cynicism and disappointment and depression that some patients get from going on from one alternative medicine to the next, and they find after three months the placebo effect wears off, and they’re disappointed and they move on to the next one, and they’re disappointed and disillusioned, and that can create depression and make the eventual treatment of the patient with anything effective difficult, because you may not get compliance, because they’ve seen the failure so often in the past.[200]

Conventional treatments are subjected to testing for undesired side-effects, whereas alternative treatments, in general, are not subjected to such testing at all. Any treatment whether conventional or alternative that has a biological or psychological effect on a patient may also have potential to possess dangerous biological or psychological side-effects. Attempts to refute this fact with regard to alternative treatments sometimes use the appeal to nature fallacy, i.e., “That which is natural cannot be harmful.” Specific groups of patients such as patients with impaired hepatic or renal function are more susceptible to side effects of alternative remedies.[201][202]

An exception to the normal thinking regarding side-effects is Homeopathy. Since 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated homeopathic products in “several significantly different ways from other drugs.”[203] Homeopathic preparations, termed “remedies”, are extremely dilute, often far beyond the point where a single molecule of the original active (and possibly toxic) ingredient is likely to remain. They are, thus, considered safe on that count, but “their products are exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength”, and their alcohol concentration may be much higher than allowed in conventional drugs.[203]

Those having experienced or perceived success with one alternative therapy for a minor ailment may be convinced of its efficacy and persuaded to extrapolate that success to some other alternative therapy for a more serious, possibly life-threatening illness.[204] For this reason, critics argue that therapies that rely on the placebo effect to define success are very dangerous. According to mental health journalist Scott Lilienfeld in 2002, “unvalidated or scientifically unsupported mental health practices can lead individuals to forgo effective treatments” and refers to this as “opportunity cost”. Individuals who spend large amounts of time and money on ineffective treatments may be left with precious little of either, and may forfeit the opportunity to obtain treatments that could be more helpful. In short, even innocuous treatments can indirectly produce negative outcomes.[205] Between 2001 and 2003, four children died in Australia because their parents chose ineffective naturopathic, homeopathic, or other alternative medicines and diets rather than conventional therapies.[206]

There have always been “many therapies offered outside of conventional cancer treatment centers and based on theories not found in biomedicine. These alternative cancer cures have often been described as ‘unproven,’ suggesting that appropriate clinical trials have not been conducted and that the therapeutic value of the treatment is unknown.” However, “many alternative cancer treatments have been investigated in good-quality clinical trials, and they have been shown to be ineffective….The label ‘unproven’ is inappropriate for such therapies; it is time to assert that many alternative cancer therapies have been ‘disproven’.”[157]

Edzard Ernst has stated:

…any alternative cancer cure is bogus by definition. There will never be an alternative cancer cure. Why? Because if something looked halfway promising, then mainstream oncology would scrutinize it, and if there is anything to it, it would become mainstream almost automatically and very quickly. All curative “alternative cancer cures” are based on false claims, are bogus, and, I would say, even criminal.[207]

“CAM”, meaning “complementary and alternative medicine”, is not as well researched as conventional medicine, which undergoes intense research before release to the public.[208] Funding for research is also sparse making it difficult to do further research for effectiveness of CAM.[209] Most funding for CAM is funded by government agencies.[208] Proposed research for CAM are rejected by most private funding agencies because the results of research are not reliable.[208] The research for CAM has to meet certain standards from research ethics committees, which most CAM researchers find almost impossible to meet.[208] Even with the little research done on it, CAM has not been proven to be effective.[210]

Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, wrote that government funded studies of integrating alternative medicine techniques into the mainstream are “used to lend an appearance of legitimacy to treatments that are not legitimate.”[159] Marcia Angell considered that critics felt that healthcare practices should be classified based solely on scientific evidence, and if a treatment had been rigorously tested and found safe and effective, science-based medicine will adopt it regardless of whether it was considered “alternative” to begin with.[3] It is possible for a method to change categories (proven vs. unproven), based on increased knowledge of its effectiveness or lack thereof. A prominent supporter of this position is George D. Lundberg, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).[47]

Writing in 1999 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Barrie R. Cassileth mentioned a 1997 letter to the US Senate Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety, which had deplored the lack of critical thinking and scientific rigor in OAM-supported research, had been signed by four Nobel Laureates and other prominent scientists. (This was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).)[211]

In March 2009 a staff writer for the Washington Post reported that the impending national discussion about broadening access to health care, improving medical practice and saving money was giving a group of scientists an opening to propose shutting down the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. They quoted one of these scientists, Steven Salzberg, a genome researcher and computational biologist at the University of Maryland, as saying “One of our concerns is that NIH is funding pseudoscience.” They noted that the vast majority of studies were based on fundamental misunderstandings of physiology and disease, and had shown little or no effect.[159]

Writers such as Carl Sagan, a noted astrophysicist, advocate of scientific skepticism and the author of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), have lambasted the lack of empirical evidence to support the existence of the putative energy fields on which these therapies are predicated.

Sampson has also pointed out that CAM tolerated contradiction without thorough reason and experiment.[212] Barrett has pointed out that there is a policy at the NIH of never saying something doesn’t work only that a different version or dose might give different results.[158] Barrett also expressed concern that, just because some “alternatives” have merit, there is the impression that the rest deserve equal consideration and respect even though most are worthless, since they are all classified under the one heading of alternative medicine.[213]

Some critics of alternative medicine are focused upon health fraud, misinformation, and quackery as public health problems, notably Wallace Sampson and Paul Kurtz founders of Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and Stephen Barrett, co-founder of The National Council Against Health Fraud and webmaster of Quackwatch.[214] Grounds for opposing alternative medicine include that:

Many alternative medical treatments are not patentable,[citation needed] which may lead to less research funding from the private sector. In addition, in most countries, alternative treatments (in contrast to pharmaceuticals) can be marketed without any proof of efficacy also a disincentive for manufacturers to fund scientific research.[220]

Here is the original post:

Alternative medicine – Wikipedia

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine is a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

Complementary medicine is usually not taught or used in Western medical schools or hospitals. Complementary medicine includes a large number of practices and systems of health care that, for a variety of cultural, social, economic, or scientific reasons, have not been adopted by mainstream Western medicine.

Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine. Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a physician.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can include the following:

Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are often lumped together. But to a cancer specialist, there is a big difference. Complementary therapy is used in addition to mainstream medical treatment. Alternative therapy is used instead of proven treatment. Another term you may hear is integrative medicine. This means combining CAM and standard care to try to treat cancer in a way that involves your body, mind and spirit. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes:

What is alternative medicine?

Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, and spiritual healing.

What are complementary and alternative medicine therapies?

Complementary and alternative medicine therapies fall into five major categories, or domains:

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques are still considered CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

Biologically based therapies in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements,3 herbal products, and the use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies (for example, using shark cartilage to treat cancer).

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:

Questions to ask your doctor when considering complimentary or alternative medicine therapies

Cancer patients using or considering complementary or alternative therapy should discuss this decision with their doctor or nurse, as they would any therapeutic approach. Some complementary and alternative therapies may interfere with standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment. It is also a good idea to become informed about the therapy, including whether the results of scientific studies support the claims that are made for it. 1

Choosing a CAM practitioner 1

For additional information, please read”Consumer Financial Issues in CAM.”

SOURCES: 1 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Alternative Medicine | Definition of Alternative Medicine …

But the roots of many natural skin care solutions can be traced to Europe, where alternative medicine practitioners have been bottling botanical tinctures and homeopathic remedies for centuries.

In recent years, the alternative medicine community has embraced do-it-yourself enemas including those using coffee as the stimulant.

The clinic in Germany offers alternative medicine including immune therapy vaccines and antibody treatments at a cost of 120,000.

The conference also offered ample distractions, including a meditation session lead by Deepak Chopra, a prominent alternative medicine guru.

Local stores like Rainbow Blossom carry several types of hemp products, including oils made from the plant’s flower that are viewed as alternative medicine for headaches and other pain.

Nexus was, and still is, an Australian magazine focused on the unexplained, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and the like.

Adams is preoccupied with the idea that vaccines cause autism and injury, that heavy metals poison our food and water supplies, and that alternative medicine is safer than the traditional Western approach.

So on that note, heres to a healthy rehab process full of alternative medicine and YouTube documentaries on the moon landing, and a complete recovery for Mr. Very Much Woke.

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Alternative Medicine | Definition of Alternative Medicine …

War on drugs – Wikipedia

War on Drugs is an American term[6][7] usually applied to the U.S. federal government’s campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade.[8][9] The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by President Richard Nixonthe day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Controlduring which he declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”. That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the “prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted”, but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term “war on drugs”.[10][11][12] However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a “war on drugs” that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction, and incarceration.[13] Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.[14]

On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowskethe Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)signaled that the Obama administration did not plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, but also that the administration would not use the term “War on Drugs”, because Kerlikowske considers the term to be “counter-productive”.[15] ONDCP’s view is that “drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated… making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe”.[16] One of the alternatives that Kerlikowske has showcased is the drug policy of Sweden, which seeks to balance public health concerns with opposition to drug legalization. The prevalence rates for cocaine use in Sweden are barely one-fifth of those in Spain, the biggest consumer of the drug.[17]

In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”[18] The report was criticized by organizations that oppose a general legalization of drugs.[16]

The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860.[19] In 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, with exceptions for religious and medical use. In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act), enacted to carry out the provisions in law of the 18th Amendment.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the United States Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930 (46 Stat. 585).[20] In 1933, the federal prohibition for alcohol was repealed by passage of the 21st Amendment. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly supported the adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The New York Times used the headline “Roosevelt Asks Narcotic War Aid”.[21][22]

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. Several scholars have claimed that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry,[23][24][25] largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[23][25] These scholars argue that with the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[23][26] These scholars believe that Hearst felt[dubious discuss] that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, United States Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont’s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered[dubious discuss] its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.[23][27][28][29][30][31][32][33] However, there were circumstances that contradict these claims. One reason for doubts about those claims is that the new decorticators did not perform fully satisfactorily in commercial production.[34] To produce fiber from hemp was a labor-intensive process if you include harvest, transport and processing. Technological developments decreased the labor with hemp but not sufficient to eliminate this disadvantage.[35][36]

On October 27, 1970, Congress passes the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which, among other things, categorizes controlled substances based on their medicinal use and potential for addiction.[37] In 1971, two congressmen released an explosive report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen were addicted to heroin, and President Nixon declared drug abuse to be “public enemy number one”.[37][38]

Although Nixon declared “drug abuse” to be public enemy number one in 1971,[39] the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914.[37][40]

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum[41][42][43] for Harper’s Magazine[44] in 1994, about President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971.[45][46]

In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.[37]

The Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 210-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the “Drug czar” in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the “war on drugs”. DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term “war on drugs”.[16][unreliable source?]

In 1982, Vice President George H. W. Bush and his aides began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts.[47]

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[48][49] which mandated a national anti-drug media campaign for youth, which would later become the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.[50] The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug czar,[37] and it was first implemented in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush,[51] and raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993.[52] These activities were subsequently funded by the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998.[53][54] The Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 codified the campaign at 21 U.S.C.1708.[55]

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report on June 2, 2011, alleging that “The War On Drugs Has Failed.” The commissioned was made up of 22 self-appointed members including a number of prominent international politicians and writers. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin also released the first ever National Prevention Strategy.[56]

On May 21, 2012, the U.S. Government published an updated version of its Drug Policy.[57] The director of ONDCP stated simultaneously that this policy is something different from the “War on Drugs”:

At the same meeting was a declaration signed by the representatives of Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States in line with this: “Our approach must be a balanced one, combining effective enforcement to restrict the supply of drugs, with efforts to reduce demand and build recovery; supporting people to live a life free of addiction.”[59]

In March 2016 the International Narcotics Control Board stated that the International Drug Control treaties do not mandate a “war on drugs.”[60]

According to Human Rights Watch, the War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that disproportionately targeted African Americans due to various factors.[62] John Ehrlichman, an aide to Nixon, said that Nixon used the war on drugs to criminalize and disrupt black and hippie communities and their leaders.[63]

The present state of incarceration in the U.S. as a result of the war on drugs arrived in several stages. By 1971, different stops on drugs had been implemented for more than 50 years (for e.g. since 1914, 1937 etc.) with only a very small increase of inmates per 100,000 citizens. During the first 9 years after Nixon coined the expression “War on Drugs”, statistics showed only a minor increase in the total number of imprisoned.

After 1980, the situation began to change. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.[64] The result of increased demand was the development of privatization and the for-profit prison industry.[65] The US Department of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, “the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates.” In addition to prison or jail, the United States provides for the deportation of many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses.[66]

In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the “War on Drugs” resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.[67] In 2008, the Washington Post reported that of 1.5 million Americans arrested each year for drug offenses, half a million would be incarcerated.[68] In addition, one in five black Americans would spend time behind bars due to drug laws.[68]

Federal and state policies also impose collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses, such as denial of public benefits or licenses, that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime.[69] In particular, the passage of the 1990 SolomonLautenberg amendment led many states to impose mandatory driver’s license suspensions (of at least 6 months) for persons committing a drug offense, regardless of whether any motor vehicle was involved.[70][71] Approximately 191,000 licenses were suspended in this manner in 2016, according to a Prison Policy Initiative report.[72]

In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the trafficking or possession of crack when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine,[73][74][75][76] which had been widely criticized as discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine.[77] This 100:1 ratio had been required under federal law since 1986.[78] Persons convicted in federal court of possession of 5grams of crack cocaine received a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in federal prison. On the other hand, possession of 500grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence.[74][75] In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act cut the sentencing disparity to 18:1.[77]

According to Human Rights Watch, crime statistics show thatin the United States in 1999compared to non-minorities, African Americans were far more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties and sentences.[79]

Statistics from 1998 show that there were wide racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, sentencing and deaths. African-American drug users made up for 35% of drug arrests, 55% of convictions, and 74% of people sent to prison for drug possession crimes.[74] Nationwide African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offenses 13 times more often than other races,[80] even though they only supposedly comprised 13% of regular drug users.[74]

Anti-drug legislation over time has also displayed an apparent racial bias. University of Minnesota Professor and social justice author Michael Tonry writes, “The War on Drugs foreseeably and unnecessarily blighted the lives of hundreds and thousands of young disadvantaged black Americans and undermined decades of effort to improve the life chances of members of the urban black underclass.”[81]

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest that blanketed the country at the time. He decided to focus his efforts on illegal drug use, an approach which was in line with expert opinion on the subject at the time. In the 1960s, it was believed that at least half of the crime in the U.S. was drug related, and this number grew as high as 90 percent in the next decade.[82] He created the Reorganization Plan of 1968 which merged the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Drug Abuse to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs within the Department of Justice.[83] The belief during this time about drug use was summarized by journalist Max Lerner in his celebrated[citation needed] work America as a Civilization (1957):

As a case in point we may take the known fact of the prevalence of reefer and dope addiction in Negro areas. This is essentially explained in terms of poverty, slum living, and broken families, yet it would be easy to show the lack of drug addiction among other ethnic groups where the same conditions apply.[84]

Richard Nixon became president in 1969, and did not back away from the anti-drug precedent set by Johnson. Nixon began orchestrating drug raids nationwide to improve his “watchdog” reputation. Lois B. Defleur, a social historian who studied drug arrests during this period in Chicago, stated that, “police administrators indicated they were making the kind of arrests the public wanted”. Additionally, some of Nixon’s newly created drug enforcement agencies would resort to illegal practices to make arrests as they tried to meet public demand for arrest numbers. From 1972 to 1973, the Office of Drug Abuse and Law Enforcement performed 6,000 drug arrests in 18 months, the majority of the arrested black.[85]

The next two Presidents, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, responded with programs that were essentially a continuation of their predecessors. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 he delivered a speech on the topic. Reagan announced, “We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we’re running up a battle flag.”[86] For his first five years in office, Reagan slowly strengthened drug enforcement by creating mandatory minimum sentencing and forfeiture of cash and real estate for drug offenses, policies far more detrimental to poor blacks than any other sector affected by the new laws.[citation needed]

Then, driven by the 1986 cocaine overdose of black basketball star Len Bias,[dubious discuss] Reagan was able to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act through Congress. This legislation appropriated an additional $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs. More importantly, it established 29 new, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. In the entire history of the country up until that point, the legal system had only seen 55 minimum sentences in total.[87] A major stipulation of the new sentencing rules included different mandatory minimums for powder and crack cocaine. At the time of the bill, there was public debate as to the difference in potency and effect of powder cocaine, generally used by whites, and crack cocaine, generally used by blacks, with many believing that “crack” was substantially more powerful and addictive. Crack and powder cocaine are closely related chemicals, crack being a smokeable, freebase form of powdered cocaine hydrochloride which produces a shorter, more intense high while using less of the drug. This method is more cost effective, and therefore more prevalent on the inner-city streets, while powder cocaine remains more popular in white suburbia. The Reagan administration began shoring public opinion against “crack”, encouraging DEA official Robert Putnam to play up the harmful effects of the drug. Stories of “crack whores” and “crack babies” became commonplace; by 1986, Time had declared “crack” the issue of the year.[88] Riding the wave of public fervor, Reagan established much harsher sentencing for crack cocaine, handing down stiffer felony penalties for much smaller amounts of the drug.[89]

Reagan protg and former Vice-President George H. W. Bush was next to occupy the oval office, and the drug policy under his watch held true to his political background. Bush maintained the hard line drawn by his predecessor and former boss, increasing narcotics regulation when the First National Drug Control Strategy was issued by the Office of National Drug Control in 1989.[90]

The next three presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama continued this trend, maintaining the War on Drugs as they inherited it upon taking office.[91] During this time of passivity by the federal government, it was the states that initiated controversial legislation in the War on Drugs. Racial bias manifested itself in the states through such controversial policies as the “stop and frisk” police practices in New York city and the “three strikes” felony laws began in California in 1994.[92]

In August 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities.[93]

Commonly used illegal drugs include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and, marijuana.

Heroin is an opiate that is highly addictive. If caught selling or possessing heroin, a perpetrator can be charged with a felony and face twofour years in prison and could be fined to a maximum of $20,000.[94]

Crystal meth is composed of methamphetamine hydrochloride. It is marketed as either a white powder or in a solid (rock) form. The possession of crystal meth can result in a punishment varying from a fine to a jail sentence. As with other drug crimes, sentencing length may increase depending on the amount of the drug found in the possession of the defendant.[95]

Cocaine possession is illegal across the U.S., with the cheaper crack cocaine incurring even greater penalties. Having possession is when the accused knowingly has it on their person, or in a backpack or purse. The possession of cocaine with no prior conviction, for the first offense, the person will be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison or fined $1,000, or both. If the person has a prior conviction, whether it is a narcotic or cocaine, they will be sentenced to two years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both. With two or more convictions of possession prior to this present offense, they can be sentenced to 90 days in prison along with a $5,000 fine.[96]

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug worldwide. The punishment for possession of it is less than for the possession of cocaine or heroin. In some U.S. states, the drug is legal. Over 80 million Americans have tried marijuana. The Criminal Defense Lawyer article claims that, depending on the age of person and how much the person has been caught for possession, they will be fined and could plea bargain into going to a treatment program versus going to prison. In each state the convictions differ along with how much marijuana they have on their person.[97]

Some scholars have claimed that the phrase “War on Drugs” is propaganda cloaking an extension of earlier military or paramilitary operations.[9] Others have argued that large amounts of “drug war” foreign aid money, training, and equipment actually goes to fighting leftist insurgencies and is often provided to groups who themselves are involved in large-scale narco-trafficking, such as corrupt members of the Colombian military.[8]

From 1963 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, marijuana usage became common among U.S. soldiers in non-combat situations. Some servicemen also used heroin. Many of the servicemen ended the heroin use after returning to the United States but came home addicted. In 1971, the U.S. military conducted a study of drug use among American servicemen and women. It found that daily usage rates for drugs on a worldwide basis were as low as two percent.[98] However, in the spring of 1971, two congressmen released an alarming report alleging that 15% of the servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. Marijuana use was also common in Vietnam. Soldiers who used drugs had more disciplinary problems. The frequent drug use had become an issue for the commanders in Vietnam; in 1971 it was estimated that 30,000 servicemen were addicted to drugs, most of them to heroin.[11]

From 1971 on, therefore, returning servicemen were required to take a mandatory heroin test. Servicemen who tested positive upon returning from Vietnam were not allowed to return home until they had passed the test with a negative result. The program also offered a treatment for heroin addicts.[99]

Elliot Borin’s article “The U.S. Military Needs its Speed”published in Wired on February 10, 2003reports:

But the Defense Department, which distributed millions of amphetamine tablets to troops during World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War, soldiers on, insisting that they are not only harmless but beneficial.

In a news conference held in connection with Schmidt and Umbach’s Article 32 hearing, Dr. Pete Demitry, an Air Force physician and a pilot, claimed that the “Air Force has used (Dexedrine) safely for 60 years” with “no known speed-related mishaps.”

The need for speed, Demitry added “is a life-and-death issue for our military.”[100]

One of the first anti-drug efforts in the realm of foreign policy was President Nixon’s Operation Intercept, announced in September 1969, targeted at reducing the amount of cannabis entering the United States from Mexico. The effort began with an intense inspection crackdown that resulted in an almost shutdown of cross-border traffic.[101] Because the burden on border crossings was controversial in border states, the effort only lasted twenty days.[102]

On December 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, which involved 25,000 American troops. Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of the government of Panama, had been giving military assistance to Contra groups in Nicaragua at the request of the U.S. which, in exchange, tolerated his drug trafficking activities, which they had known about since the 1960s.[103][104] When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried to indict Noriega in 1971, the CIA prevented them from doing so.[103] The CIA, which was then directed by future president George H. W. Bush, provided Noriega with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as payment for his work in Latin America.[103] When CIA pilot Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, documents aboard the plane revealed many of the CIA’s activities in Latin America, and the CIA’s connections with Noriega became a public relations “liability” for the U.S. government, which finally allowed the DEA to indict him for drug trafficking, after decades of tolerating his drug operations.[103] Operation Just Cause, whose purpose was to capture Noriega and overthrow his government; Noriega found temporary asylum in the Papal Nuncio, and surrendered to U.S. soldiers on January 3, 1990.[105] He was sentenced by a court in Miami to 45 years in prison.[103]

As part of its Plan Colombia program, the United States government currently provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year of military aid, training, and equipment to Colombia,[106] to fight left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), which has been accused of being involved in drug trafficking.[107]

Private U.S. corporations have signed contracts to carry out anti-drug activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp, the largest private company involved, was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department.[108]

Colombian military personnel have received extensive counterinsurgency training from U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, including the School of Americas (SOA). Author Grace Livingstone has stated that more Colombian SOA graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses than currently known SOA graduates from any other country. All of the commanders of the brigades highlighted in a 2001 Human Rights Watch report on Colombia were graduates of the SOA, including the III brigade in Valle del Cauca, where the 2001 Alto Naya Massacre occurred. US-trained officers have been accused of being directly or indirectly involved in many atrocities during the 1990s, including the Massacre of Trujillo and the 1997 Mapiripn Massacre.

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[109]

The efforts of U.S. and Colombian governments have been criticized for focusing on fighting leftist guerrillas in southern regions without applying enough pressure on right-wing paramilitaries and continuing drug smuggling operations in the north of the country.[110][111] Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.[citation needed]

In 2010, the Washington Office on Latin America concluded that both Plan Colombia and the Colombian government’s security strategy “came at a high cost in lives and resources, only did part of the job, are yielding diminishing returns and have left important institutions weaker.”[112]

A 2014 report by the RAND Corporation, which was issued to analyze viable strategies for the Mexican drug war considering successes experienced in Columbia, noted:

Between 1999 and 2002, the United States gave Colombia $2.04 billion in aid, 81 percent of which was for military purposes, placing Colombia just below Israel and Egypt among the largest recipients of U.S. military assistance. Colombia increased its defense spending from 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 to 4.19 percent in 2005. Overall, the results were extremely positive. Greater spending on infrastructure and social programs helped the Colombian government increase its political legitimacy, while improved security forces were better able to consolidate control over large swaths of the country previously overrun by insurgents and drug cartels.

It also notes that, “Plan Colombia has been widely hailed as a success, and some analysts believe that, by 2010, Colombian security forces had finally gained the upper hand once and for all.”[113]

The Mrida Initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America. It was approved on June 30, 2008, and its stated aim is combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime. The Mrida Initiative appropriated $1.4 billion in a three-year commitment (20082010) to the Mexican government for military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to strengthen the national justice systems. The Mrida Initiative targeted many very important government officials, but it failed to address the thousands of Central Americans who had to flee their countries due to the danger they faced everyday because of the war on drugs. There is still not any type of plan that addresses these people. No weapons are included in the plan.[114][115]

The United States regularly sponsors the spraying of large amounts of herbicides such as glyphosate over the jungles of Central and South America as part of its drug eradication programs. Environmental consequences resulting from aerial fumigation have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems;[116] the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.[117]

In 2012, the U.S. sent DEA agents to Honduras to assist security forces in counternarcotics operations. Honduras has been a major stop for drug traffickers, who use small planes and landing strips hidden throughout the country to transport drugs. The U.S. government made agreements with several Latin American countries to share intelligence and resources to counter the drug trade. DEA agents, working with other U.S. agencies such as the State Department, the CBP, and Joint Task Force-Bravo, assisted Honduras troops in conducting raids on traffickers’ sites of operation.[118]

The War on Drugs has been a highly contentious issue since its inception. A poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War On Drugs was failing.[119]

At a meeting in Guatemala in 2012, three former presidents from Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia said that the war on drugs had failed and that they would propose a discussion on alternatives, including decriminalization, at the Summit of the Americas in April of that year.[120] Guatemalan President Otto Prez Molina said that the war on drugs was exacting too high a price on the lives of Central Americans and that it was time to “end the taboo on discussing decriminalization”.[121] At the summit, the government of Colombia pushed for the most far-reaching change to drugs policy since the war on narcotics was declared by Nixon four decades prior, citing the catastrophic effects it had had in Colombia.[122]

Several critics have compared the wholesale incarceration of the dissenting minority of drug users to the wholesale incarceration of other minorities in history. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, for example, writes in 1997 “Over the past thirty years, we have replaced the medical-political persecution of illegal sex users (‘perverts’ and ‘psychopaths’) with the even more ferocious medical-political persecution of illegal drug users.”[123]

Penalties for drug crimes among American youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, strip them of voting rights, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment more difficult.[124] Thus, some authors maintain that the War on Drugs has resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few educational or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[124]

According to a 2008 study published by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, the annual savings on enforcement and incarceration costs from the legalization of drugs would amount to roughly $41.3 billion, with $25.7 billion being saved among the states and over $15.6 billion accrued for the federal government. Miron further estimated at least $46.7 billion in tax revenue based on rates comparable to those on tobacco and alcohol ($8.7 billion from marijuana, $32.6 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[125]

Low taxation in Central American countries has been credited with weakening the region’s response in dealing with drug traffickers. Many cartels, especially Los Zetas have taken advantage of the limited resources of these nations. 2010 tax revenue in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, composed just 13.53% of GDP. As a comparison, in Chile and the U.S., taxes were 18.6% and 26.9% of GDP respectively. However, direct taxes on income are very hard to enforce and in some cases tax evasion is seen as a national pastime.[126]

The status of coca and coca growers has become an intense political issue in several countries, including Colombia and particularly Bolivia, where the president, Evo Morales, a former coca growers’ union leader, has promised to legalise the traditional cultivation and use of coca.[127] Indeed, legalization efforts have yielded some successes under the Morales administration when combined with aggressive and targeted eradication efforts. The country saw a 1213% decline in coca cultivation[127] in 2011 under Morales, who has used coca growers’ federations to ensure compliance with the law rather than providing a primary role for security forces.[127]

The coca eradication policy has been criticised for its negative impact on the livelihood of coca growers in South America. In many areas of South America the coca leaf has traditionally been chewed and used in tea and for religious, medicinal and nutritional purposes by locals.[128] For this reason many insist that the illegality of traditional coca cultivation is unjust. In many areas the U.S. government and military has forced the eradication of coca without providing for any meaningful alternative crop for farmers, and has additionally destroyed many of their food or market crops, leaving them starving and destitute.[128]

The CIA, DEA, State Department, and several other U.S. government agencies have been alleged to have relations with various groups which are involved in drug trafficking.

Senator John Kerry’s 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concludes that members of the U.S. State Department “who provided support for the Contras are involved in drug trafficking… and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly receive financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.”[129] The report further states that “the Contra drug links include… payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies.”

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News, and later in his book Dark Alliance, detailing how Contras, had been involved in distributing crack cocaine into Los Angeles whilst receiving money from the CIA.[citation needed] Contras used money from drug trafficking to buy weapons.[citation needed]

Webb’s premise regarding the U.S. Government connection was initially attacked at the time by the media. It is now widely accepted that Webb’s main assertion of government “knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers” was correct.[130][not in citation given] In 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz published a two-volume report[131] that while seemingly refuting Webb’s claims of knowledge and collaboration in its conclusions did not deny them in its body.[citation needed] Hitz went on to admit CIA improprieties in the affair in testimony to a House congressional committee. There has been a reversal amongst mainstream media of its position on Webb’s work, with acknowledgement made of his contribution to exposing a scandal it had ignored.

According to Rodney Campbell, an editorial assistant to Nelson Rockefeller, during World War II, the United States Navy, concerned that strikes and labor disputes in U.S. eastern shipping ports would disrupt wartime logistics, released the mobster Lucky Luciano from prison, and collaborated with him to help the mafia take control of those ports. Labor union members were terrorized and murdered by mafia members as a means of preventing labor unrest and ensuring smooth shipping of supplies to Europe.[132]

According to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, in order to prevent Communist party members from being elected in Italy following World War II, the CIA worked closely with the Sicilian Mafia, protecting them and assisting in their worldwide heroin smuggling operations. The mafia was in conflict with leftist groups and was involved in assassinating, torturing, and beating leftist political organizers.[133]

In 1986, the US Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, “Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction”, was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.[135]

During the early-to-mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three times more effective than the supply-side “war on drugs”.[136]

The National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs published its findings in 2001 on the efficacy of the drug war. The NRC Committee found that existing studies on efforts to address drug usage and smuggling, from U.S. military operations to eradicate coca fields in Colombia, to domestic drug treatment centers, have all been inconclusive, if the programs have been evaluated at all: “The existing drug-use monitoring systems are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make…. It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether and to what extent it is having the desired effect.”[137] The study, though not ignored by the press, was ignored by top-level policymakers, leading Committee Chair Charles Manski to conclude, as one observer notes, that “the drug war has no interest in its own results”.[138]

In mid-1995, the US government tried to reduce the supply of methamphetamine precursors to disrupt the market of this drug. According to a 2009 study, this effort was successful, but its effects were largely temporary.[139]

During alcohol prohibition, the period from 1920 to 1933, alcohol use initially fell but began to increase as early as 1922. It has been extrapolated that even if prohibition had not been repealed in 1933, alcohol consumption would have quickly surpassed pre-prohibition levels.[140] One argument against the War on Drugs is that it uses similar measures as Prohibition and is no more effective.

In the six years from 2000 to 2006, the U.S. spent $4.7 billion on Plan Colombia, an effort to eradicate coca production in Colombia. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas and force other forms of adaptation. The overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was found to be the same, after the U.S. Drug Czar’s office announced a change in measuring methodology in 2005 and included new areas in its surveys.[141] Cultivation in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia increased, some would describe this effect like squeezing a balloon.[142]

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion,[143] criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out that

1015% of illicit heroin and 30% of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers’ profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as “failed” on grounds that “for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold.”[144]

At least 500 economists, including Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman,[145] George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith, have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand.[146] The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect. The aforementioned economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating “We urge…the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition… At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.”

The declaration from the World Forum Against Drugs, 2008 state that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms and call on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse.[147]

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting[148] and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005[citation needed] (FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana “easy to obtain”. That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.[149] The Drug Enforcement Administration states that the number of users of marijuana in the U.S. declined between 2000 and 2005 even with many states passing new medical marijuana laws making access easier,[150] though usage rates remain higher than they were in the 1990s according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.[151]

ONDCP stated in April 2011 that there has been a 46 percent drop in cocaine use among young adults over the past five years, and a 65 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.[152] At the same time, a 2007 study found that up to 35% of college undergraduates used stimulants not prescribed to them.[153]

A 2013 study found that prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis had decreased from 1990 to 2007, but the purity of these drugs had increased during the same time.[154]

The War on Drugs is often called a policy failure.[155][156][157][158][159]

The legality of the War on Drugs has been challenged on four main grounds in the U.S.

Several authors believe that the United States’ federal and state governments have chosen wrong methods for combatting the distribution of illicit substances. Aggressive, heavy-handed enforcement funnels individuals through courts and prisons; instead of treating the cause of the addiction, the focus of government efforts has been on punishment. By making drugs illegal rather than regulating them, the War on Drugs creates a highly profitable black market. Jefferson Fish has edited scholarly collections of articles offering a wide variety of public health based and rights based alternative drug policies.[160][161][162]

In the year 2000, the United States drug-control budget reached 18.4 billion dollars,[163] nearly half of which was spent financing law enforcement while only one sixth was spent on treatment. In the year 2003, 53 percent of the requested drug control budget was for enforcement, 29 percent for treatment, and 18 percent for prevention.[164] The state of New York, in particular, designated 17 percent of its budget towards substance-abuse-related spending. Of that, a mere one percent was put towards prevention, treatment, and research.

In a survey taken by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it was found that substance abusers that remain in treatment longer are less likely to resume their former drug habits. Of the people that were studied, 66 percent were cocaine users. After experiencing long-term in-patient treatment, only 22 percent returned to the use of cocaine. Treatment had reduced the number of cocaine abusers by two-thirds.[163] By spending the majority of its money on law enforcement, the federal government had underestimated the true value of drug-treatment facilities and their benefit towards reducing the number of addicts in the U.S.

In 2004 the federal government issued the National Drug Control Strategy. It supported programs designed to expand treatment options, enhance treatment delivery, and improve treatment outcomes. For example, the Strategy provided SAMHSA with a $100.6 million grant to put towards their Access to Recovery (ATR) initiative. ATR is a program that provides vouchers to addicts to provide them with the means to acquire clinical treatment or recovery support. The project’s goals are to expand capacity, support client choice, and increase the array of faith-based and community based providers for clinical treatment and recovery support services.[165] The ATR program will also provide a more flexible array of services based on the individual’s treatment needs.

The 2004 Strategy additionally declared a significant 32 million dollar raise in the Drug Courts Program, which provides drug offenders with alternatives to incarceration. As a substitute for imprisonment, drug courts identify substance-abusing offenders and place them under strict court monitoring and community supervision, as well as provide them with long-term treatment services.[166] According to a report issued by the National Drug Court Institute, drug courts have a wide array of benefits, with only 16.4 percent of the nation’s drug court graduates rearrested and charged with a felony within one year of completing the program (versus the 44.1% of released prisoners who end up back in prison within 1-year). Additionally, enrolling an addict in a drug court program costs much less than incarcerating one in prison.[167] According to the Bureau of Prisons, the fee to cover the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in 2006 was $24,440.[168] The annual cost of receiving treatment in a drug court program ranges from $900 to $3,500. Drug courts in New York State alone saved $2.54 million in incarceration costs.[167]

Describing the failure of the War on Drugs, New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter noted:

Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption. A study by analysts at the RAND Corporation, a California research organization, suggested that if marijuana were legalized in California and the drug spilled from there to other states, Mexican drug cartels would lose about a fifth of their annual income of some $6.5 billion from illegal exports to the United States.[169]

Many believe that the War on Drugs has been costly and ineffective largely because inadequate emphasis is placed on treatment of addiction. The United States leads the world in both recreational drug usage and incarceration rates. 70% of men arrested in metropolitan areas test positive for an illicit substance,[170] and 54% of all men incarcerated will be repeat offenders.[171]

There are also programs in the United States to combat public health risks of injecting drug users such as the Needle exchange programme. The “needle exchange programme” is intended to provide injecting drug users with new needles in exchange for used needles to prevent needle sharing.

Covert activities and foreign policy

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War on drugs – Wikipedia

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Get the Facts on CAM

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine is a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

Complementary medicine is usually not taught or used in Western medical schools or hospitals. Complementary medicine includes a large number of practices and systems of health care that, for a variety of cultural, social, economic, or scientific reasons, have not been adopted by mainstream Western medicine.

Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine. Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a physician.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can include the following:

Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are often lumped together. But to a cancer specialist, there is a big difference. Complementary therapy is used in addition to mainstream medical treatment. Alternative therapy is used instead of proven treatment. Another term you may hear is integrative medicine. This means combining CAM and standard care to try to treat cancer in a way that involves your body, mind and spirit. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes:

What is alternative medicine?

Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, and spiritual healing.

What are complementary and alternative medicine therapies?

Complementary and alternative medicine therapies fall into five major categories, or domains:

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques are still considered CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

Biologically based therapies in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements,3 herbal products, and the use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies (for example, using shark cartilage to treat cancer).

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:

Questions to ask your doctor when considering complimentary or alternative medicine therapies

Cancer patients using or considering complementary or alternative therapy should discuss this decision with their doctor or nurse, as they would any therapeutic approach. Some complementary and alternative therapies may interfere with standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment. It is also a good idea to become informed about the therapy, including whether the results of scientific studies support the claims that are made for it. 1

Choosing a CAM practitioner 1

For additional information, please read”Consumer Financial Issues in CAM.”

SOURCES: 1 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Get the Facts on CAM

Alternative Medicine | Definition of Alternative Medicine …

The clinic in Germany offers alternative medicine including immune therapy vaccines and antibody treatments at a cost of 120,000.

The conference also offered ample distractions, including a meditation session lead by Deepak Chopra, a prominent alternative medicine guru.

Local stores like Rainbow Blossom carry several types of hemp products, including oils made from the plant’s flower that are viewed as alternative medicine for headaches and other pain.

Nexus was, and still is, an Australian magazine focused on the unexplained, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and the like.

Adams is preoccupied with the idea that vaccines cause autism and injury, that heavy metals poison our food and water supplies, and that alternative medicine is safer than the traditional Western approach.

So on that note, heres to a healthy rehab process full of alternative medicine and YouTube documentaries on the moon landing, and a complete recovery for Mr. Very Much Woke.

The white coats have been around since the 1900s and were first worn at hospitals and then spread to medical schools, said Wolfgang Gilliar, dean of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, a school for alternative medicine.

The alternative medicine procedure is more or less what its name conjures up: Instead of a needle, an acupuncture practitioner injects bee venom into the body at certain points.

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Alternative Medicine | Definition of Alternative Medicine …

Things to Know About Degrees in Alternative Medicine …

What holistic medicine degrees are available?

From certificates to doctoral degrees, the alternative medicine arena offers a wide range of educational resources for those interested in joining this growing field.

If you plan to work as a naturopathic doctor (ND), youll need to earn a doctoral degree in order to practice. This type of program teaches students about all the areas of natural health and prepares them to work in a private practice or clinic.

Other alternative medicine programs, like hypnotherapy or homeopathy, are typically geared toward those with an ND (or MD) and come in the form of diplomas or certificates. Many naturopathic doctors use homeopathy and hypnotherapy to complement their existing treatments. If youre interested in studying an area of alternative medicine as a hobby, you can also find courses and seminars.

If you plan to attend a college or university to be trained in alternative medicine, you can expect to learn about the following topics:

A bachelors of science (BS) degree in alternative medicine is a four-year program which will incorporate both general education requirementsEnglish, math, sciencewith specific course work related to alternative medicine.

If you already work in the natural health field as a massage therapist or other profession, earning a BS in alternative medicine can expand your career options and teach you how to include new treatment methods in to your job.

As an example of what you might encounter in a BS in alternative medicine program, Everglades University offers the following classes once a student has completed the general education requirements:

Becoming an ND doesnt require a pre-med undergraduate major, but if you know youre interested in heading down this career path, be sure to fulfill any science prerequisites that may be necessary for graduate school.

If youve got your sights set on a naturopathic doctor career right from the start, there are undergraduate naturopathic programs which include 20 semester or 30 quarter credits of chemistry, botany, biology, anatomy and physiology.

If youre looking to earn a master of science in alternative medicine degree, youre in luck. Theres no shortage of graduate programs, but youll need to determine what area of the field you want to focus on.

Concentrations include:

As an example of coursework in an MS program for alternative medicine, the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) Master of Science in Integrative Medicine Research includes these classes:

Physiology and health, nutrition, physical medicine and pulse reading are other topics youll be trained in.

Just like a medical doctor (MD), naturopathic doctors need the most advanced degree to practice. In fact, NDs learn the same basic sciences as an MD, but theyre also schooled in a vast array of alternative medicine techniques.

To become an ND, students must be trained in:

Clinical training will be another crucial aspect in your doctoral education.With clinical experience, youll meet with patients and get a sense of the environment you could one day be working in.

Your field of expertise will determine your licensure requirements. Licensure is done through the state you plan to work in, while certifications are generally provided by industry organizations. Certification does not necessarily mean you are licensed to practice.

Naturopathic Doctor

Not all states distribute licenses for alternative medicine practitioners, but the following states do, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is a proponent of licensure in all 50 states.

The Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP) certifies NDs.

Homeopathic program graduates are licensed through the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC). In Arizona, Connecticut and Nevada, licensed homeopaths are also physicians. Meanwhile, unlicensed practitioners are allowed to practice homeopathy in California, Idaho, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Oklahoma. If you refer to yourself as a homeopathic doctor, youll need to have a medical license, otherwise you can work as a homeopathic counselor.

Hypnotherapy

Several certification organizations give their seal of approval to hypnotherapists including the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (AAPH), the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH) and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ACSH).

Certification can also be obtained via the American Board of Medical Hypnosis, the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis, the American Board of Hypnosis in Dentistry and the American Hypnosis Board for Clinical Social Work.

Holistic Health Practitioner

The American Association of Drugless Practitioners certifies holistic health practitioners.

Naturopathic degree programs train students to become an expert in the field of alternative medicine as well as how to work with patients seeking a different form of medical treatment. ND programs are rigorous and prepare students to work as a primary care physician.

In addition to a clinical practicum, courses will teach you about:

Your level of education will determine how much schooling youll need. An alternative medicine degree can take the following time to complete:

Not unlike traditional medical schools, online naturopathic programs exist, but professional organizations often discourage students from distance learning because medicine is such a hands-on field.

The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the accreditation body for ND schools, doesnt accredit online programs. If you earn a degree from a non-accredited school, youll be unable to sit for the professional exam to become licensed as an ND.

If you work in a state where NDs arent licensed and youve earned a degree from a non-accredited school, you can still use the ND title, but cannot present yourself as a physician. Instead, you can use your expertise to counsel patients.

If youre looking to earn a certificate in hypnotherapy or homeopathy, online programs are available.

If you attend a four-year naturopathic school tuition full time, expect to pay approximately $25,000* per year. While the cost can be steep, find out if your school offers financial aid, scholarships or grants.

Making sure your school is accredited is particularly important if youll be applying for financial aid. These schools qualify for federal and state financial aid, such as work-study programs and Stafford loans.

Programs for homeopathy and hypnotherapy cost less because theyre usually shorter in length and offered to practicing NDs and MDs as a way to complement their services.

Homeopathic school tuition runs between $200 and $7,500. The reason for the wide range in cost is length of time. Programs in the $200 to $1,000 range are generally week-long or weekend seminars, while the more expensive courses last longer and are more in-depth.

*Cost of tuition only. Prices do not reflect other fees.

ND program prerequisites

While each school has their own requirements, most NDs will expect incoming students to have:

Homeopathy program prerequisites

Pay attention to the prerequisites for homeopathic programs as some are geared strictly for medical professionals. These will require a medical license as a prerequisite. Programs offered for anyone interested in the practice generally dont have prerequisites.

Accreditation is an important part of your alternative medicine education. Its the seal of approval that a schools program provides a standard of education accepted in the industry. Be aware there are different bodies of accreditation based on the area of medicine you plan to practice.

Naturopathic Doctor

Attending a school which is not accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) will be a hindrance if you try to sit for a professional board exam. Only graduates of CNME-accredited schools are permitted to take these exams.

Homeopathy

Classical homeopathy programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Homeopathic Education in North America.

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, is another accreditation body you may come across.

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Things to Know About Degrees in Alternative Medicine …

Complementary and Alternative Medicine | American Cancer …

The terms “complementary” and “alternative” are sometimes used to refer to non-traditional methods of diagnosing, preventing, or treating cancer or its symptoms. Here you’ll find general information to help you better understand what these terms mean and how to decide if using them is right for you. You’ll also find a wealth of information on specific complementary and alternative treatments, grouped into the five categories below.

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine | American Cancer …

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine is a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

Complementary medicine is usually not taught or used in Western medical schools or hospitals. Complementary medicine includes a large number of practices and systems of health care that, for a variety of cultural, social, economic, or scientific reasons, have not been adopted by mainstream Western medicine.

Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine. Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a physician.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can include the following:

Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are often lumped together. But to a cancer specialist, there is a big difference. Complementary therapy is used in addition to mainstream medical treatment. Alternative therapy is used instead of proven treatment. Another term you may hear is integrative medicine. This means combining CAM and standard care to try to treat cancer in a way that involves your body, mind and spirit. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes:

What is alternative medicine?

Alternative medicine includes dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, massage therapy, magnet therapy, and spiritual healing.

What are complementary and alternative medicine therapies?

Complementary and alternative medicine therapies fall into five major categories, or domains:

Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Often, these systems have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Examples of alternative medical systems that have developed in Western cultures include homeopathic medicine and naturopathic medicine. Examples of systems that have developed in non-Western cultures include traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

Mind-body medicine uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered CAM in the past have become mainstream (for example, patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy). Other mind-body techniques are still considered CAM, including meditation, prayer, mental healing, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

Biologically based therapies in CAM use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins. Some examples include dietary supplements,3 herbal products, and the use of other so-called natural but as yet scientifically unproven therapies (for example, using shark cartilage to treat cancer).

Manipulative and body-based methods in CAM are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body. Some examples include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, and massage.

Energy therapies involve the use of energy fields. They are of two types:

Questions to ask your doctor when considering complimentary or alternative medicine therapies

Cancer patients using or considering complementary or alternative therapy should discuss this decision with their doctor or nurse, as they would any therapeutic approach. Some complementary and alternative therapies may interfere with standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment. It is also a good idea to become informed about the therapy, including whether the results of scientific studies support the claims that are made for it. 1

Choosing a CAM practitioner 1

For additional information, please read”Consumer Financial Issues in CAM.”

SOURCES: 1 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health

See more here:

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

5 Kinds of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Complementary and alternative medicine comes in a broad range of forms. Here’s a look at five widely practiced types of complementary and alternative medicine:

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the most commonly used complementary medicine approaches in the U.S. fall into one of two subgroups: natural products or mind-body practices.

Often sold in dietary supplement form, natural products may include herbs, probiotics, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, chemicals such as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate (two supplements said to aid in the treatment of osteoarthritis), and a variety of other substances.

In the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (or NHIS, a report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics), researchers determined that 17.7 percent of American adults had used a dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals in the past year. The most commonly used natural product was fish oil, an omega-3-rich substance said to protect against conditions such as heart disease.

The second category of most commonly practiced complementary medicine approaches, according to the NCCIH, mind-body therapies typically involve using specific techniques to boost the mind’s capacity to influence bodily function and enhance health.

Hypnotherapy is a popular type of mind-body therapy. Also known as hypnosis, it’s been found to promote weight loss, alleviate back pain, and aid in smoking cessation in some scientific studies.

A self-directed practice long used to promote calm, meditation is a mind-body therapy that shows promise as an approach to achieving healthier blood pressure and sounder sleep.

There’s also some evidence that meditation may benefit people struggling with chronic pain.

Although yoga is often practiced as a form of exercise and a means of reducing stress, it’s also used as a mind-body therapy. Indeed, some research indicates that yoga may help manage conditions like anxiety, insomnia, migraines, and depression.

The NCCIH notes that yoga’s popularity has significantly increased in recent years, with almost twice as many U.S. adults practicing yoga in 2012 as in 2002.

Other types of mind-body therapies include biofeedback, guided imagery, and music therapy.

Many proponents of complementary and alternative medicine use therapies and healing practices from alternative medical systems, such as homeopathy and naturopathic medicine.

Alternative medical systems also include traditional medical systems from other countries, such as Ayurveda (a form of alternative medicine that originated in India) and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Within TCM are a number of therapies frequently used in the U.S. today, including acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicine.

This type of complementary and alternative medicine is based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body.

In some cases, manipulative and body-based methods involve participating in classes or individual sessions with the aim of changing your movement habits. For example, the Alexander Techniqueinvolves relearning basic movements (such as standing and sitting) in order to reduce muscle tension, while the Feldenkrais Method involves creating new patterns of movement in order to improve physical function and overall wellbeing.

Other types of manipulative and body-based methods used in complementary and alternative medicine focus on applying specific treatments to address health issues. These methods include reflexology, osteopathy, and rolfing.

Two of the most popular and well-researched types of manipulative and body-based methods are chiropractic and massage therapy.

Another type of complementary and alternative medicine, energy therapies are generally based on the idea that energy fields surround and penetrate the human body. Practitioners of energy therapies often aim to manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or placing the hands in or through these energy fields.

While the existence of such energy fields has not been scientifically proven, there’s some evidence that certain energy therapies may have beneficial effects.

For instance, preliminary research has shown that practicing qigongmay help control chronic pain and lower blood pressure while Therapeutic Touch may help soothe osteoarthritis pain. In addition, there’s some evidence that reiki may help lessen pain, promote healthy sleep, and reduce anxiety.

Sources:

Birocco N,GuillameC, Storto S, Ritorto G, Catino C, Gir N, Balestra L, Tealdi G, Orecchia C, Vito GD, Giaretto L, Donadio M, Bertetto O, Schena M, Ciuffreda L. “The effects of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in patients attending a day oncology and infusion services unit.” Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2012 Jun;29(4):290-4.

Lee MS, Pittler MH, Ernst E. “External qigong for pain conditions: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” J Pain. 2007 Nov;8(11):827-31.

Lee MS, Pittler MH, Guo R, Ernst E. “Qigong for hypertension: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” J Hypertens. 2007 Aug;25(8):1525-32.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “What Is Complementary, Alternative or Integrative Health?” NCCIH Pub No.: D347. March 2015.

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5 Kinds of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

What Is Alternative Medicine? – Learn.org

‘Alternative medicine’ is a general term that covers medical practices that aren’t considered mainstream, but are believed to have some beneficial purposes. Common types of alternative medicine include chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and some types of massage. Read on to learn more about this field.Schools offeringComplementary & Alternative Health degreescan also be found in these popularchoices.

Alternative medicine is made up of a variety of medical practices that have not yet become part of conventional medicine. Professionals who have earned a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree practice conventional medicine. Most forms of alternative medicine stem from a combination of traditional medical practices, spiritual beliefs, and folk medicine.

While much of this medicine has been practiced and refined over centuries, it’s only recently that alternative medicine has obtained widespread interest on the part of both patients and medical practitioners. Many medical practitioners refer to alternative medicine as complementary medicine, since it’s often used to complement more accepted and modern medical practices. When alternative medicine is combined with conventional medical techniques, it’s called integrative or integrated medicine.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is a government agency that performs research in the field. NCCAM groups alternative medicine practices into the following categories:

There are completed scientific studies involving various alternative medicine practices, and some studies are still ongoing. A good place to start looking for the results of these studies is the NCCAM website. The site features research and advice about various therapies, as well as information on alternative medicine practitioners and sources for training in the field. One may also call the NCCAM Clearinghouse (1-888-644-6226) to ask specific questions or to locate publications.

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What Is Alternative Medicine? – Learn.org

Alternative Medicine – Study.com

The principles of alternative medicine are rooted in ancient healing methods combined with modern medicine to treat and prevent illness. Continue reading to learn whether a career in alternative medicine is right for you.

In most cases, alternative medicine excludes prescription drugs and tends to focus on the use herbs and other forms of natural healing. This form of healthcare comprises a diverse array of specialties and sub-specialties that tend not to rely on standard or conventional methods for treatment. These include naturopathic medicine, complementary medicine, acupuncture, herbal therapy, aromatherapy, holistic medicine and many more.

The common denominator among these specialties is the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself, making the goal of the alternative medicine practitioner to educate patients on nutrition and to encourage lifestyle changes that bring the body back into balance while curing itself of illness. In addition, a mixture of ancient remedies and modern medical technology may be used to restore health without the use of major surgery and medications.

Methods used for healing vary by profession. For instance, practitioners of Oriental medicine work with herbal remedies, acupuncture and acupressure massage. Naturopathic physicians blend modern medicine with ancient healing remedies to perform minor surgeries and use holistic methods to cure and prevent common ailments, such as chronic pain, hormonal imbalances and adrenal fatigue.

Those working in alternative medicine must receive formal training. The intensity, level and length of training vary according to the chosen specialty and desired salary. Generally, a bachelor’s degree in the chosen field is required, as well as the completion of a 4-year graduate level program through an accredited school. However, certificate programs may allow for study in a more specific profession. A doctoral degree is not usually required, but could be helpful in some fields, such as naturopathy.

Those wishing to specialize in Oriental medicine should enroll in programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Similarly, those wishing to pursue a career as a naturopathic physician should enroll in programs recognized by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. Review the links below for details about relevant training programs.

Most programs for alternative medicine require clinical hours and hands-on training, but in some instances students can obtain degrees through distance learning instruction. Online degrees can be found at all levels of education. Here are some options to consider.

The majority of alternative medicine practitioners are self-employed, but many can find positions in private practices and medical centers. In some instances, employment may be acquired in a hospital setting, but specialty hospitals that concentrate on holistic care offer the most opportunities for alternative medicine specialists. Jobs may also be found in community health centers and clinics. The following articles from Study.com show just some of the career possibilities in this field.

Licensing requirements vary depending on the field of specialty and location. To become a licensed naturopathic physician, one must successfully complete the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners in order to work in any of the 16 states requiring this certification. Similarly, the field of acupuncture has licensing standards in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Licensing is provided by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and membership with the American Association of Oriental Medicine may be a benefit.

Salaries for practitioners of alternative medicine vary by specialty, location and level of experience and education. According to Payscale.com, as of April 2014, naturopathic physicians in the 10th-90th percentile range earned base salaries of $29,799-$109,690. As of the same year, acupuncturists in the same percentile range earned $29,142-$93,688.

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Alternative Medicine – Study.com

Complementary and Alternative Medicine – KidsHealth

What Is It?

Some healing treatments like acupuncture or herbal medicine are not part of conventional medical training. People in Western countries like the United States used to consider these treatments outside the mainstream, or “alternative.”

In lots of Eastern countries its common to use practices like acupuncture in medicine. But until recently, most Western hospitals didn’t provide any alternative treatments, and Western medical schools didn’t teach them. In the last few decades, patients in Western countries have become interested in these approaches, and they’vestarted to ask for them. Now some Western medical schools teach non-traditional therapies and some hospitals use them in their care.

Some approaches like meditation, yoga, and massage therapyare known as complementary medicine because they complement traditional medical treatments. Together, complementary and alternative medicine have come to be called CAM for short.

Both alternative and complementary medicine use the same kinds of remedies to treat health conditions. The difference is that alternative medicine is often used instead of conventional medical techniques. Complementary medicine is used in addition to conventional medicine, not as a replacement.

Conventional medicine is based on scientific knowledge of the body and uses treatments that have been proven effective through scientific research. Doctors are trained to have a thorough knowledge of the body’s systems, diseases, and their treatments.

Complementary and alternative medicine is based on the belief that a medical care provider has to treat the whole person body, mind, and spirit. The techniques used in CAM are mostly less invasive than conventional medical practices, meaning that they don’t rely on surgery or conventional medications.

Some CAM therapies are supported by scientific evidence, others are not. Many still need to be studied. This doesn’t mean these therapies don’t work, it just means that experts haven’t studied them enough to know if they do and if so, how.

People often turn to CAM when they have a long-lasting problem that conventional medicine hasn’t completely cured. Someone might try complementary health approaches to help improve symptoms or manage side effects from conventional treatments.

People may also use CAM when they’re not sick. Because many people believe that CAM approaches such as practicing yoga or taking dietary supplements can improve overall well being, healthy people often use alternative medicine to try to prevent illness or ensure a healthier lifestyle.

Just as there are many fields in conventional medicine, CAM covers many different practices. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) groups CAM practices into two areas:

In addition to these different practices, CAM includes several whole medical systems. These alternative medical systems are entire fields of theory and practice, and many date back earlier than the conventional medicine we use in the West today. Examples of alternative medical systems include Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, homeopathic medicine, and naturopathic medicine.

Alternative medical systems incorporate many of the different practices listed above into their treatments. For example, the TCM practice of acupuncture may be combined with herbal medicine and qi gong. And Ayurveda includes the mind-body therapies of meditation and yoga, along with the practice of taking specific herbs for health reasons.

Some of these alternative medical systemsare supported by scientific research, while others have not yet been studied. Sometimes experts have scientific evidence that a CAM practice (like acupuncture) works, but they don’t have a clear understanding of why.

Although CAM does have some proven benefits, like anything it has its limitations.

Experts haven’t researched many CAM supplements and practices enough to tell how effective they are as treatments. Some people may not feel it’s worth investing a lot of time or money in treatments that haven’t been proven effective. Insurance policies dont cover most CAM treatments, so people may have to pay for them out of their own pockets with no reimbursement.

Alternative healing approaches on their own may not be enough to help a person get well. For example, a bacterial infection needs treatment with antibiotics. And just like traditional medications, dietary supplements may have unwanted side effects.

Another reason you should be up-front with your doctor about CAM is because, in some cases, some natural products can actually interfere with traditional medical treatments. For example, certain herbal supplements can interfere with some prescription drugs, such as birth control pills or antidepressant medication. That’s why it’s always best to see your doctor if you have a health problem and talk openly about any CAM you are using or might want to try.

As with modern medicine, CAM treatments that are effective for one problem will not help with all problems. Certain treatments are only used for certain problems, so if you want to try an alternative practice for a health reason, make sure it will help the specific problem you’re looking to treat.

Traditional medical doctors are not only trained, they’re licensed. But that’s not always the case with CAM practitioners. Some states have licensing requirements for certain specialists, like acupuncturists and massage therapists, and many are expanding their requirements for licensing as CAM practices grow in popularity.

Finding a good CAM practitioner is still not as easy as looking someone up in a phone book. NCCAM recommends asking a health care provider for a referral, gathering information about the practitioner you are considering (such as training and licensing), and meeting with the practitioner to ask about the risks and benefits of treatment the same kinds of things you’d do if you were interviewing a new doctor.

You may have already used a complementary or alternative practice, like yoga or massage, and not even thought about it! Trying practices like meditation and breathing can’t do any harm, but other CAM techniques may have consequences for people with certain health conditions. Even the more mainstream practices like yoga can hurt someone with a health condition like a back problem if they are not done properly. So check with your doctor before trying any CAM approach. Your doctor will try to guide you on which practices you can safely try while continuing with your current method of treatment.

Date reviewed: March 2014

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Complementary and Alternative Medicine – KidsHealth

Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Johns …

Many different areas make up the practice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In addition, many parts of one field may overlap with the parts of another field. For example, acupuncture is also used in conventional medicine. In the U.S., CAM is used by about 38% of adults and 12% of children. Examples of CAM include:

Traditional alternative medicine. This field includes the more mainstream and accepted forms of therapy, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and Oriental practices. These therapies have been practiced for centuries worldwide. Traditional alternative medicine may include:

Body. Touch has been used in medicine since the early days of medical care. Healing by touch is based on the idea that illness or injury in one area of the body can affect all parts of the body. If, with manual manipulation, the other parts can be brought back to optimum health, the body can fully focus on healing at the site of injury or illness. Body techniques are often combined with those of the mind. Examples of body therapies include:

Diet and herbs. Over the centuries, man has gone from a simple diet consisting of meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains, to a diet that often consists of foods rich in fats, oils, and complex carbohydrates. Nutritional excess and deficiency have become problems in today’s society, both leading to certain chronic diseases. Many dietary and herbal approaches attempt to balance the body’s nutritional well-being. Dietary and herbal approaches may include:

Dietary supplements

Herbal medicine

Nutrition/diet

External energy. Some people believe external energies from objects or other sources directly affect a person’s health. An example of external energy therapy is:

Electromagnetic therapy

Reiki

Qigong

Mind. Even standard or conventional medicine recognizes the power of the connection between mind and body. Studies have found that people heal better if they have good emotional and mental health. Therapies using the mind may include:

Meditation

Biofeedback

Hypnosis

Senses. Some people believe the senses, touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste, can affect overall health. Examples of therapies incorporating the senses include:

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Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine | Johns …

Alternative medicine – RationalWiki

“By definition”, I begin”Alternative Medicine”, I continue”Has either not been proved to work,Or been proved not to work.

You know what they call alternative medicineThats been proved to work?

Alternative medicine is any medical treatment that is not part of conventional evidence-based medicine, such as one would learn in medical school, nursing school or even paramedic training. Much, if not most, of the “alternative medicine” world lacks any scientific proof of its effectiveness, and that which does have real effectiveness, tends to be palliative[note 1] rather than curative. Any alternative medicine with scientific evidence behind it is simply called medicine.

The term “alternative medicine” is also a politically correct term for medical marijuana.

Alternative medicine includes “traditional medicines” (i.e. “medical” systems developed prior to or outside of “Western Medicine”, such as traditional Native American remedies, or traditional Chinese medicine), “folk remedies” (e.g., herbalism, tinctures, and rubs that were commonplace “treatments” often passed around via urban legend), and an ever-growing class of “religious” or “spiritual” treatments that have their sources in Eastern religions, but are filtered through a pay-as-you-go, for-profit (see “New Age”) mindset. These terms are still used today to describe the various substances of unclear efficacy sold for a profit through advertising. These cures are not always sold by malicious, deceptive con men. Many promoters are true believers, making their claims even more convincing.

And if you don’t think it’s real, or don’t think people who have funding to spend notice it, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is run by the National Institute of Health.[2]

The rebranding of alternative medicine is analogous to the endless rebranding of creationism to try to evade the First Amendment, or the renaming of racialism to try and avoid the status of “racist”. The original term, alternative medicine, was trivially unmasked as alternatives to medicine, and emphasized its being outside of scientific medical practice. There are many legitimate complementary therapies such as massage, counselling and so on, and by claiming to be part of this, rather than acknowledging its status as being apart from medicine, these rebrandings hope to gain a halo effect and imply a legitimate place in medical practice. The purpose is to gain greater acceptance, and hopefully funding, for pseudomedicine – a stalking horse for woo.[5]

Critics of alternative medicine have come up with some of their own terms for it:

Often holistic healers will convince their patients to forgo proper medical care, usually combined with misrepresentations of studies or emotional appeals, to undergo holistic therapies. Since there is no valid evidence that holistic therapies are capable of curing deadly ailments, this kind of malpractice is dangerous to offer patients.

All alternative medicine, even the “effective” therapies, have the danger of convincing an unwell person to forgo actual medical treatments because they think they are getting better (which can happen with palliative remedies and placebos) or they choose to trust their alternative practitioner who is offering a “cure”. For example, a person with cancer may convince himself to try a homeopathic remedy. Also, many herbal remedies can actually interfere with prescription drugs, lessening their effect or even causing dangerous side effects. Since almost all alternative medicines are unproven, many advocates (known to some as “alties”) tend to appeal to “health freedom”, rather than actually try to prove that their nostrums work. Expensive homeopathic remedies sold at whole foods supposedly contain tiny bits of the molecules of the illnesses they are supposed to cure intended to promote the immune system of the user to fight whatever it is that the medicine is supposed to fight. In reality, they are tasty bits of sugar.

Many practitioners exploit vulnerable patients. They give false hope to people who are incurably sick and frequently charge high prices for useless treatments. The belief that alternative medicines are somehow “less risky” or “less harsh” than conventional medicine has led some to take alternative medicine over conventional actual medicine. While this may often be true (though don’t say that to someone who’s lost skin or body parts to black salves sometimes used for skin cancers), the potential health risks of not taking conventional medicine for an illness far outweigh the risks from the side effects of these medicines.

Often, alternative medicine practitioners claim that, unlike “allopathy”, they help the body’s natural self-healing powers. Yet many of them will describe anecdote after anecdote showcasing medical recoveries (involving such transitory things as colds) while seemingly refusing to believe that the disease could ever have gone away on its own. These recoveries must be due to whatever remedy they used. So on the one hand, they extol the healing powers of the human body, while at the same time denying that illnesses could ever go away by themselves or in other words, that the body could actually heal itself.

Alternative medicines or therapies range from being scientifically provable to scientifically disproven, and can be benign (and often ridiculous) all the way to downright dangerous. Medical science has only recently started to do quality and quantity research into alternative medicine. With the exception of some surprising and exciting treatments that have true medical potential, the vast majority of the therapies do little if anything beyond the placebo effect. Even when the treatment actually does something, the reasons given by practitioners for why the treatment is effective are almost never based on correct scientific information. Benign treatments have the advantage of not directly injuring a patient, other than money and at worst precious time going out the window. The ridiculous cannot possibly have any medical effects (beyond that of the placebo effect at best), or may be actively dangerous to the patient.

Holistic medical practitioners defend their treatments to the general public that there is documented proof that they work, but when faced with empirical evidence that does not support their claims, certain practicioners often state that holistic medicine cannot be readily tested by scientific means.

In other words: if it’s not tested, then they think it works. Once it’s tested, they’ll tell you the test is wrong and it works.

When a student wants to become a physician, he or she must attend a certified medical school, pass rigorous medical exams, and participate in carefully monitored and regulated internships all regulated by the governmental bodies who license the doctor. For the majority of alternative medicine, no such regulation is in place. For a few specific alternative therapies like chiropractic work and massage therapy, regulatory bodies do exist. However, pretty much every other field of alternative medicine has no regulation at all. Call yourself a color therapist, and lo and behold, you are one.

There is also a lack of regulation in the products sold as “alternative” or “herbal” medicines. You cannot, for example, know what is in a “sleep healing tea”, how much of each ingredient, how potent the pills are, or even whether it contains the listed ingredient(s) at all (many herbal products, in fact, do not contain the herb(s) listed on the label).[13] Also, as there is little scientific research, “doses” are always a guess. “Try one pill. If that doesn’t work, take two.”

Sometimes an alternative medicine supporter will present a scholarly work as “proof” that the alternative medicine works and is being suppressed by “regular” medicine. The problem is the work is either outdated, has been refuted by later research, or (worse) is misrepresented.

Weston Price’s work on focal infection and nutrition is a prime example of this type of handwaving. Given what was known at the time his work was perfectly valid…for its time, which was 1939. The thing is the world as well as our understanding of both focal infection and nutrition have changed so drastically that Price’s work would have to be reevaluated in a modern framework… something that really hasn’t been done. The fact Price himself questioned the focal infection theory is also not brought up by either side or that what Price actually did and what his supporters claim he did (and was) are so different that it is a clear misrepresentation.

Homoeopathy serves as another example as supporters can point to K. Linde, N. Clausius, G. Ramirez, et al., “Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? A Meta-analysis of Placebo-Controlled Trials,” Lancet, September 20, 1997, 350:834-843…while ignoring the refutiation in “The end of homoeopathy” The Lancet, Vol. 366 No. 9487 p 690. The Vol. 366 No. 9503 issue (Dec 27, 2005) and by 14 studies from 2003 to 2007.[14]

Colloidal silver was used as an antibiotic, germicide and disinfectant clear into the 1940s. Publications such as New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal (1907), The Journal of the American Medical Association (1918), The Journal of the American Dental Association (1934) all had articles regarding the uses and limits of colloidal silver. Antibiotics were far more effective (and safer) so the use of colloidal silver effectively ended.

In many respects this is the most dangerous form of alternative medicine as it cloaks itself in the garb of genuine medicine using scholarly publications to support its claims.

You can’t neatly brush it all into the quack corner. Some of them work, but not all of them.

Manheimer 2003, which studied IV drug users, found that:[23]

Having a higher education and lower self-rated health were the two strongest predictors of CAM use, followed by having a regular doctor or clinic, being white and younger. There was a high level of self-perceived effectiveness of CAM therapies (4.1 on a scale of 1-5), and CAM users were likely to use CAM for reasons related to their addiction.

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Alternative medicine – RationalWiki


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