Blog | Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Throwing the baby out with the snake oil.


A few weeks ago, I vented my frustration about reports that budget-conscious patients where prioritizing supplements and vitamins over standard medical care. Apparently the news got the Associated Press even more fired up.

A new AP IMPACT report goes after alternative medicine like it's a potential terrorist network. And mainstream medicine is on the conspiracy! "Some medical schools are teaching future doctors about alternative medicine, sometimes with federal grants," the article warns. The author notes that most CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) education is designed to teach doctors about the products their patients may be using. "But some schools have ties to alternative medicine practitioners and advocates." Well, yes, in order to learn about alternative medicine you might actually have to have contact with those who provide it.

Absolutely, alternative medication is controversial and some treatments are total scams. But is demonizing the whole field--and anyone who tries to study it--going to help sort out what's helpful and what's harmful? When one of the top problems with CAM is that patients don't tell their doctors what alternative therapies they're using, maybe we should be calling for more research and more cooperation, not less.