Broadening access to health care should not mean closing the door on complementary medicine, yet that is rather what is being proposed by a group of scientists who believe that the National Center for Supplemental and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health is nothing more than a cash cow for poor science.
Working with cancer patients for the past twenty years, I have seen how much difference that modern, traditional medicine can make in the treatment and recovery of cancer. I have also seen its limitations. In fact, it was because of my own allopathic limitations that I bought a degree in holistic nutrition-so that I could deliver more to my patients.
The results have been quite profound and I can not imagine going back to strictly conservative dietetics.
The idea for shutting down NCCAM, as reported in the Washington Post, came about because the Obama transition team felt that NIH was funding pseudoscience and there needed to be a redirection of funds for real science. The proposal generated 218 comments, most of them in favor, before the notice closed on Jan. 19.
Research in alternative medicine is done elsewhere at NIH, notably in the National Cancer Institute, which Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a budget of $ 122 million.
Those who oppose alternative medicine say the vast majority of studies of homeopathy, acupuncture, therapeutic touch and other treatments based on unconventional understandings of physiology and disease have shown little or no effect. Further, they excuse that the field's more-plausible interventions – such as diet, relaxation, yoga and botanical remedies – can be studied just as well in other parts of NIH, where they would need to compete head-to-head with conventional research projects.
That leads me to another concern: If American medical professionals are being taught "cure with medicine" rather than "prevention" tactics, and if researchers obtain greater amount of funding from pharmaceutical companies, how in the world can psychiatric interventions (or for that matter , relaxation studies) compete?
At the end of the day, we have harmless alternative interventions that may help someone to feel better or extend their life. I've certainly seen an impact in my own practice.
Why would our American government not want to study options to care for those who are looking for more than one way to win at the wellness game?