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Alternative Medicine Find Wider Acceptance by Doctors, Insurers, and Hospitals, Yet They “Lack Value”

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“Alternative medicine has become mainstream,” according to Associated Press medical writer Marilynn Marchione. “Consumer spending on it in some cases rivals that of traditional healthcare.” But after stating that major hospitals and clinics increasingly offer complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, that medical schools now teach CAM, and some health insurers promote deals for policyholders to have CAM therapy at a discount, she made the shocking statement that “more than $2.5 billion of tax-financed research [into CAM therapies] has not found any cures or major treatment advances, aside from certain uses for acupuncture and ginger for chemotherapy-related nausea. If anything, evidence has mounted that many of these pills and therapies lack value.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 75% of the global population still relies on traditional healing methods, including herbal medicine. Americans now pay out of pocket to seek the advice of CAM physicians. Why would Americans do so if these pills and therapies “lack value”?
The Associated Press article is right about the increasing use of alternative medicine. Recent years have shown a tremendous increase in its acceptance by the public. And they are correct that some CAM therapies are more accepted in some quarters of conventional medicine (massage therapy in particular, and acupuncture for pain relief), but the rest of the story is woefully misleading. Conventional medicine still views alternative and complementary therapies as the enemy, the attitudes evinced in this article—that CAM practices are largely mumbo-jumbo that evoke the placebo effect but have no real effectiveness otherwise—is widespread in allopathic medicine, and certainly in the insurance industry.
Since the signing of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994, the oft-repeated mantra has been that the dietary supplement is unregulated. “An AP review of dozens of studies and interviews with more than 100 sources found an underground medical system operating in plain sight, with a different standard than the rest of medical care, and millions of people using it on blind faith.” This statement implies that CAM therapy is “outside the standard of care” with no regulation. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Botanical medicine, homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, body work therapies, and many therapeutic approaches have been practiced safely and effectively for a longer period of time than the current allopathic medical system in the US. The current use of clinical nutrition in integrative medical practice has a strong scientific basis, as evidenced by the 200,000+ articles posted in PubMed from major medical journals. Rogers vs. FL Board of Medicine, a suit before the Florida Supreme Court, made the case that chelation therapy was an acceptable form of therapy practiced by a significant minority of physicians.
On the other hand, there is good evidence to suggest that much of what is currently accepted as “mainstream” medicine in the US is not backed by the gold-standard of scientific research: double-blind placebo-controlled studies. Additionally, the standard of care in the US is skewed in many instances by dollars from vested interests that include pharmaceutical companies and medical device firms.
Doctors who offer CAM therapies are subject to the same licensure regulation as those who practice allopathic care. In fact, there is evidence to suggest these integrative doctors are held to a more rigorous standard than allopathic physicians.
Let’s not settle for another media campaign that attacks CAM as unregulated and lacking value. Dr. Robert Verkerk at the Alliance for Natural Health makes the case that your ability to choose natural health products or therapeutic foods is severely threatened through a global effort masterminded by governments and transnational corporations.
Dr. Verkerk has a downloadable lecture called “Natural Health at Risk” at the website Changing Times, that will help you understand why our health choices—particularly natural ones—are so severely threatened.

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