Contemplating Alternative Medicine

Posted by: drchasrani on: June 15, 2012

Complimentary medicine or alternative medicine is taken as quackery by many. But now it is more and more used as an adjuvant in many conditions like cancer. Time has come to think about its efficacy. Team@CMHF

Complementary medicine typically refers to any approach to healthcare that a person chooses to pursue alongside modern medicine. That is, it complements the scientifically proven treatment. Complementary medicine usually includes some form of traditional Chinese medicine (or, as many refer to it, Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]), including acupuncture, herbal remedies, mushroom blends, and certain movement and breathing practices like Qi Gong and Tai Chi. When someone who is ill chooses to use only these approaches and no form of Western medicine, it’s usually called alternative, not complementary.

TCM has been increasingly incorporated into medical care—in cancer treatment, it’s called integrative oncology. Scientific literature now supports the use of acupuncture as a way to reduce nausea among people receiving chemotherapy.

Clinical trials enable researchers to compare two treatment approaches, but they also enable researchers to keep patients safe from a potentially harmful new agent.

One of the issues raised about TCM is that it’s based on anecdotal evidence. That’s a reasonable concern. Anecdotal evidence is subjective. The National Comprehensive Cancer Guidelines would consider it Category 3 evidence.


All of which brings us to the issue of evidence-based medicine, and the fact that there should be ample evidence supporting the choices and recommendations made by doctors. And yet, anecdotal evidence is an inherent part of Western medicine.

The author says, “simply dismissing complementary medicine as a sham is the sign of a closed mind, not a scientific one.”




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