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Why universities should teach alternative medicine

Most readers would know of the current debate about universities teaching complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). A core question not being addressed in this debate is what other institution is better…

Linking research and teaching, universities are best placed to teach evidence-based CAM. Tulane Publications

Most readers would know of the current debate about universities teaching complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). A core question not being addressed in this debate is what other institution is better placed to deliver evidence-based knowledge of CAM.

The latest controversy started when a group called Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) wrote to vice chancellors across the country asking them to review their health science courses. FSM rightly says that rigorous academic standards and evidence for scientific conclusions and health-care practices are of the essence and should be the basis of all university teaching.

I’m sure that any university lecturer would agree with these principles; most would consider themselves as friends of science in medicine. But it’s a matter of concern when the debate and terminology become simplistic, generalised and uninformed.

CAM is a term for many different practices and medicines and there’s scientific evidence for a number of them. Some of the modalities are derived from ancient sciences, for instance, and have a very long history of successful traditional use. FSM mentions acupuncture as a therapy it considers pseudo-scientific and argues that it shouldn’t be taught at university. But this isn’t entirely true.

There’s clinical evidence for acupuncture as effective treatment for various conditions, including migraines, tension-type headaches and chronic low-back pain. What’s more, there’s a Medicare rebate available for acupuncture if it’s part of a doctor’s examination. Why shouldn’t medical practitioners learn about the evidence for this treatment option at universities to increase consumer choices and improve patient outcomes?

The National Prescribing Service’s “Review of the Quality of Complementary Medicines Information Resources” can be used to identify which CAM information resources are of high quality, evidence-based, unbiased and well structured. The use of such high-quality resources is available and encouraged at universities.

In Australia, complementary medicines are regulated as medicines by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA’s ambit includes homeopathic and traditional medicines, such as Traditional Chinese Medicines. According to the TGA’s guidelines general and medium-level claims (such as the temporary relief of minor self-limiting conditions) for complementary medicine’s efficacy can be based on certain traditional use evidence. The guidelines allow the use of such medicines until high-level evidence, that would allow for high-level claims, is available.

A balanced view in this debate is particularly important because about 70% of Australians already use CAM, mostly alongside conventional medicines and treatments.

So the community expects health professionals to be able to provide information and guidance about the quality use of all medicines, which, according to Australian’s National Medicines Policy, includes complementary medicines. To be able to do that, health professionals need to be knowledgeable, at least, about the principle, paradigm and available evidence for all complementary medicines, including homeopathic and traditional medicines.

And where else would health professionals gain this knowledge if not at university, during their degree? One of the advantages universities have is the close relationship between research and teaching – students are more engaged and inspired by research-led teaching, and research is informed by queries from students while teaching. Many universities research CAM to generate an evidence base or prove their lack of efficacy.

So why support research but exclude teaching of CAM from universities? Aren’t we obliged to translate our research results into practice – starting by teaching new practitioners?

At Griffith University, evidence-based CAM education is integrated throughout the whole pharmacy curriculum. Our teaching research has shown that pharmacy students perceive education about CAM as a core part of their professional degree. We found that CAM research and education had a moderating effect on students' attitudes towards CAM. The training also encouraged students to look at and evaluate evidence and make informed decisions in the best interests of their patients.

We also offer a specifically designed “Short Course in Integrative Medicine for Pharmacists,” which has been accredited for continuous professional development. The course addresses the shortage of CAM knowledge among practicing Australian pharmacists as identified in a recent Pharmacy Guild-funded project, which surveyed Australian pharmacists nationally.

The survey found most pharmacists supported undergraduate CAM education (76%), and the majority (85%) were interested in additional CAM education themselves.

Research also suggests that CAM education may also teach practitioners greater self-awareness, improved core competencies (such as evidence-based practice), enhanced cultural competency and patient-centred care.

So should we turn our back on the consumer-driven trend toward holistic and integrative healthcare, or should we work together to understand, research and teach different principles, practices and evidence to improve health outcomes for customers and patients? I, for one, would prefer the latter.

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135 Comments sorted by

  1. William Bennett

    Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

    Homeopathy has no genuine scientific evidence in its favor - it is pseudoscientific garbage. It should NEVER be a part of a University course - except where it is used as an example of the dangers of non-evidence based treatments. The death of Penelope Dingle is a prime example of the dangers of this kind of approach to CAM. Homeopathy (and many other CAM treatments with no solid scientific basis) should be withdrawn from private health rebate schemes, and removed from pharmacies - allowing them leads the public to believe that they are legitimate treatments, which they most certainly are not.

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    1. Ian Darby

      Academic/Researcher at RMIT University

      In reply to William Bennett

      The shortage of pharmacists' knowledge about CAM is certainly a major concern! I am irritated by the presence of homeopathy 'remedies' in pharmacies and always make a point of berating the staff.
      The 'lots of people use CAM' argument is rather tired. If the public were better informed about the lack of evidence then maybe they wouldn't. As William states, Universities teaching this stuff are doing a disservice to the public by suggesting legitimacy and also in the longer term a disservice to the students who waste their fees on the courses.

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    2. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bennett

      Cancer treatment is beyond the scope of practice for CAM practitioners, university trained or not. This is well known within the CAM community. If treatment of cancer was offered by a CAM practitioner, that is, in my opinion unethical.

      However, poor practice by individuals does not equate to the removal of training in universities. Otherwise medicine should be removed from university on the back of the actions of Jayant Patel.

      In order to research a subject, there must be an understanding…

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    3. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Ian Darby

      Lots of people use cigarettes too - should pharmacies also sell them?

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  2. Colin MacGillivray

    Architect, retired, Sarawak

    Very reasonable point of view. Perhaps the first term of each University CAM course should be devoted exclusively to the book "Trick or Treatment" with students having the option to quit the course at any time.

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    1. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Colin MacGillivray

      I agree, I think that is a fabulous idea. I read the book and still chose to study the only therapy that was capable of addressing my health issues. I only turned to CAM after many years of ineffective medical help - you may note that is the majority of my life was spent ill because of the limitations (not inefficacy) of orthodox medicine.

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  3. Peter Fox

    Medical doctor

    Completely agree with William and Ian. Including quasi-science in universities will only legitimise these treatments. We need to educate the community about the concept of a placebo, which is all these myriad treatments are. It is no surprise when the acupuncturist spends 45 minutes discussing the patient's anxieties and fears, the back pain is going to feel better. This is not due to the pointy needles targeting energy fields but due to the strong (often subconscious) pyschosomatic component of many complaints.

    To claim acupuncture is effective shows a lack of understanding of the concept ofnquality blinded trials (with sham acupuncture), all of which have shown if is no better than placebo. And I mean true sham acupuncture, not the quasi sham in some studies, which has essentially caused unblinding.

    Keep up the good work Friends of Science in Medicine.

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    1. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Fox

      From The Cochrane Review - Acupuncture and assisted conception - "The data from this meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture does increase the live birth rate with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment when performed around the time of embryo transfer." It is interesting to note that while in discussion with Professor Kerryn Phelps on ABC radio, Professor Dwyer was attacking acupuncture as being not scientifically supported. Professor Phelps alluded to this study, but Professor Dwyer did not respond…

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Rachel McDonald

      The rest of the abstract reads
      "However, this could be attributed to placebo effect and the small number of trials included in the review. Larger studies are necessary to confirm the results. Acupuncture may have potential harmful effects in early pregnancy and hence clinicians should be cautious when giving advice regarding the use of acupuncture in early pregnancy."

      Some important reasons to be very careful of CAM claims and IVF, or any modality can be examined here (and links therein)
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/acupuncture-for-ivf-revisited-more-tooth-fairy-science/
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/ivf-and-cam-use/

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  4. Holly Nayler

    logged in via Facebook

    Alternative Medicine should receive higher rebates than that of other 'modern medicine'. for years my daughter has suffered hay-fever and small aches and pains that were not helped by general practitioners. they would give her sprays and say sinus infections, growth spurts etc. one visit to a naturopath and we new what and were the problems lied. after that she was put on natural herbal medicines - not processed chemical crap and a few basic foods removed and she is better than ever. life and nutrition go hand in hand with the bodys balance and it should all be taken into account. Modern medicine is useful but sometimes it just doesnt cut it. natural therapies are better for the body all around. bring on uni studies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. Tim Scanlon

    Author and Scientist

    This isn't about teaching an alternative, it is about teaching magic to kids.

    I'm sure that day one of CAM courses will be to memorise Harry Potter and make sure they have brought their wand. Because after how long these CAM methods have supposedly been practiced, you would expect to see some actual evidence rather than magical assumptions of their mechanisms.

    It shouldn't be too much to ask to demand scientific and rational merit to university degrees. Even philosophy degrees are still based around logic and reason, not belief and magic.

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  6. Jacqui Lattenstein

    Natural Health business owner

    I am not a homeopath but have found that many of my clients use it as they have found that conventional western medicine does not work for them. For example it works for fibromyalgia and it has been trialed.The first controlled trial testing the homeopathic treatment of patients with fibromyalgia was an impressive and sophisticated double-blind "crossover" trial that was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (Fisher et al, 1989). The researchers found that there was a significant and…

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    1. Leonie Kirchmajer

      Research and Policy Analyst (Education)

      In reply to Jacqui Lattenstein

      As someone who has Fibromyalgia, I am constantly annoyed at the amount of pseudoscience crap that is constantly being pushed at sufferers claiming to be a cure all. It is manipulating a vulnerable group of people desperate for pain relief.

      Homeopathy does not work for fibromyalgia, or anything else for that matter. It is a dangerous practice because it deters people from seeking proper treatment and management of their condition. Yes, GPs do need to improve their handling of chronic illness…

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Leonie Kirchmajer

      Ms Kirchmajer is correct - people with chronic disease are often exploited by "alternative" (not science-based) practitioners. An understanding of the clinical sciences would suggest that recording and EEG has nothing to do with fibrolyalgia - EEGs record electrical activity WITHIN the brain - and are most commonly used for epilepsy diagnosis and to assess therapy.

      Science-based therapy doesn't just mean that the effectiveness should be proven scientifically - it means that the therapy should be based on the clinical sciences - the way we know the body works. We might not know all about every function of the body, but, with research, advanced imaging and advanced laboratory techniques, we certainly know more than the 19th centure theorists who invented some of these systems which have never responded to new evidence. That is dogma, not science.

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  7. Tamsin Delafonte

    logged in via Facebook

    Thanks Evelin Tiralongo for this very calm presentation/overview of reasons why CAM sits well among other university curricula. It is very easy, as is apparent by some comments above, for people to over-react about the concept of 'risk' attributed to complementary medicine use. However CAM is already widely accepted by Australians generally, and panic is definitely unwarranted, given the generally very safe track record of CAM treatments. CAM looks particularly safe when compared to some of the…

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  8. Paul Lawrence Hayes

    logged in via Facebook

    Teach /about/ CAM and the reasons it's almost all both medically useless and unethical ( http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01876.x/abstract ) - sure. But teaching the pseudoscience / pseudomedicine itself is a despicable thing to do and this fallacy-filled opinion piece (argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad antiquatatem, false balance/compromise...) is ironic evidence of a need for critical thinking skills and basic science to be (better) taught in universities, not CAM.

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  9. Michael Jude Peter Barnes

    logged in via Facebook

    The medicine that is studied in universities is that which has been shown to work, more effectively than placebos in double blind randomized trials. Until complementary and alternative medicine can meet this standard it shouldn't be taught in universities.

    Any arguments around popularity, widely accepted or that it is already subsidized through medicare are beside the point. In the case of homeopathy the argument of its safety is spurious since in the dilutions employed it can not contain any trace of the original ingredient.

    Not saying preference traditional 'western' style medicine over CAM just that when both are evaluated using the best tool we have to determine effect CAM fails.

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    1. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Jude Peter Barnes

      I am constantly confused by the rationale behind this debate. In order to raise the evidence base for any substance, effective and well designed research must be undertaken. In order to have effective and well designed research, we need university trained researchers who understand both the historical usage AND the hard sciences. In order to have university trained researchers with this combined knowledge, we require well developed and constantly evolving university courses.

      Many concepts…

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Rachel McDonald

      Your thinking is naive and flawed, you clearly do not understand what science is nor the training that is involved in it.

      The entire supposition that scientists only gain knowledge from their degree is laughable. The idea that science hasn't and isn't investigating any and all avenues of treatment is also nothing more than a joke.

      There has been a lot of science done on CAM modalities and they have been largely found to be baseless. I referred to it as belief in magic in one of my comments here, because that is essentially what it boils down to. The things that have worked have been incorporated into the wider field of medicine, e.g. massage in physiotherapy. The rest has been tried and found lacking and were subsequently dismissed.

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    3. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Rachel McDonald

      Ms McDonald, your example of helicobacter is a good one. It's not enough to have an idea, you also have ot be right.

      So, what did the discoverers of H. Pylori do? They tested it. They did both bacteriological studies and clinical trials - and they had positive results. What happened then? It became standard knowledge. That's how science works.

      Examples like homeopathy, on the other hadn are based on a theory from the nineteenth century that has never been shown to work, and yet the theory hasn't changed. That's not science - it's dogma.

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  10. Stephen Dixon

    Digital video officer

    Sorry, but Homeopathic medicine is an oxymoron.

    Still, it's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater: studying CAM, and exposing the myths is better than ignoring it.

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  11. Michael Dwyer

    Misanthropist

    "Evelin Tiralongo does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations."

    From her profile page:

    "She is a chief investigator in several clinical, practice and laboratory based CM research projects funded through the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, the CM industry and the NHMRC. These projects focus on the integration of CMs into pharmacy practice, CM education for health professionals and students, the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines, as well as investigations into the pharmacological effects of Australian mushrooms and medicinal plants.
    She has received approximately $1,190,000 in internal and external research funding either as a CI or AI and has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles, one patent and several book chapters. "

    Is it just me or does the initial deceleration appear disingenuous?

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    1. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Michael Dwyer

      Pharmacists market and sell medications at a profit - including SCAM medicines. There is an inherent vested interest right there.

      While orthodox medical practitioners prescribe at arm's length from supply, many other non-scientific therapists recommend "remedies" and then retail them directly, at a profit. How can this be ethical?

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    2. Paul Richards

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue - couldn't agree more, about "remedies" and I might add their genuine placebo effect can be dangerous, to health and pocket.

      However since you raised ethics, there was a divergence between herbalists or CAM in the 1920s as the surgical side of medicine and hospitals diverged. There is a historical record of the rift that developed between surgical medicine and medical preparations or drugs. Because the surgical side of what we now know as modern medicine chased the profit in hospitals and…

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  12. Henry Teng

    Medical researcher

    There are "alternative medicines" that have sound scientific bases and evidence but never emerge out of that category either because the evidence have not found their way into western medical literature or underwent the grossly expensive "gold standard" controlled studies. "Intranasal light therapy" is one such biophysics-based solution. Google this term and you'll find evidence that are starting to bubble into view. Or go to the <a href="http://www.mediclights.com">MedicLights Research</a> website…

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    1. Donncha Redmond

      Software Developer

      In reply to Henry Teng

      "People in other "non-traditional" countries - Russia, China, even Germany enjoy more alternative therapies than the pharma-dominated countries like ours. And they are none the worse for it."

      None the worse for it? Hardly a ringing endorsement of alternative therapies, is it? Surely if alternative therapies were so good you'd expect their health to be significant;y better than our "pharma-dominated" countries?

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Henry Teng

      Henry, did you know that some of the biggest German multinationals are homeopathy "manufacturers", who make huge profits by diluting and bottling "remedies" that contain no detectable molecules other than water and/or alcohol? That scam makes anything produced by so-called "Big Pharma" pale inito insignificance.

      Australian "practitioners" then buy "mother tinctures" that then are diluted again and again and also sold at large profits by those practitioners who recommend them. DO you think that is ethical?

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  13. William Bennett

    Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

    Reading some of the above comments scares me. "Homeopathy...is actually very scientific..."! Ummmmm, no. Homeopathy is the opposite of scientific. It slaps chemistry in the face whilst stealing terminology from physics to try and convince people of its legitimacy. Diluting something so much that not a single molecule of the active ingredient remains does not create an effective medicine - it's water. And no, water does not have a memory, for if it did, surely it would 'remember' all the faeces and…

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  14. Taylor Arbour

    Acupuncturist

    Looks like you hit a nerve here Evelin. I'm not reminded so much of healthy criticism or responsible dissent by the critics of CAM who have posted in this comment thread as I am a toddler in the throws of a temper tantrum. Maybe they could try some acupuncture to help them calm their disquieted psyches ;)

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Author and Scientist

      In reply to Taylor Arbour

      I think you mean "hit a meridian line". Actually it wouldn't be "hit", probably more like soothed a meridian line. Sorry, soothed implies that something actually happened, that isn't likely. Guess it should be nothing changed. That's not right either, really should be "I duped someone into paying me to stand around and spout nonsense."

      In the context of this article the statement really should be "I, Taylor Arbour, believe your spouted nonsense is worthy of a degree in BS."

      Real scientists and medical professionals have rigor and validity to their courses. To say CAM is on the same level as their degrees is an insult to every professional in the industry.

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  15. Marie Josee Shirley Lee-Chee

    logged in via Facebook

    I am shocked at some of the comments here. We are all supposed to be in the health industry. If we are in it for the right reason, then we should all be working together. I have been a naturopath for 12 years & I work with many other therapists, of all types, to improve my patients' health. Isn't this the point? In any case, natural therapies (herbs, nutriiton, etc) is not 'alternative' medicine - it was the original medicine. On the 1 hand, some say we are not qualified enough - on the other…

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    1. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Marie Josee Shirley Lee-Chee

      I'm sorry Marie, but you are not qualified enough to be giving health advice. And I agree that natural therapies should be removed from Universities.

      You say: "Perhaps natural therapies is too much of a threat, because it works so well.."

      I say: Prove it.

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    2. Marie Josee Shirley Lee-Chee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bennett

      I have been proving it for 10 years. My practice is very nutrition & herb based. I do not do homeopathy. There is plenty of proof in regards to the herbs & supplements that I use, but my clients ar my living proof.

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    3. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bennett

      Yes, you say prove it on one hand but don't study at university on the other hand. Which is it that you are asking for? Where are the researchers coming from if not university training?

      There are two options. One is that scientific research has reached the pinnacle and can no longer discover anything new, in which case we are in trouble because there are many unanswered questions. It also makes orthodox research redundant. The other option is that further research into health treatments…

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    4. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Rachel McDonald

      Rachel, you have completely missed the point. There is a very big difference between a University offering a course in natural medicine, and having researchers at that University research the effectiveness of some medicines. I guarantee that scientists researching the effectiveness of naturally sourced compounds, did not do a degree at the Australian College of Natural Medicine, or some other such bogus institution...

      Research into identifying drugs from natural products is an legitimate and evidence…

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    5. Letitia MacCuspie

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to William Bennett

      you say "we have progressed to the point where we can synthesise the active chemicals, thus avoiding potential side effects and interactions associated with giving people a whole natural product, which may contain hundreds of chemicals."

      And thats the point here, these researches / doctors are kicking up a stink about alternative medicine because they are backed or work for the big pharma companies and all they want to do is make money. For that to happen they isolate the active constituents and…

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    6. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Letitia MacCuspie

      You know it really irritates me when people such as yourself completely ignore the benefits that modern medicine have provided. Clinical trials are an extremely long, regulated process, that are done to ensure the safety and efficacy of treatments before they reach the general public. This process costs massive amounts of money and takes many many years, and more often than not, drugs are rejected due to safety or efficacy concerns.

      How many people in your family have high-cholesterol, high blood…

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    7. Stephen Dixon

      Digital video officer

      In reply to Letitia MacCuspie

      "Natural therapies use the whole plant (which these companies cannot patent and make money from)..."
      That doesn't stop natural therapy companies from making money from it, now does it. OR do they do it all for free?

      "..which as you have said contain hundreds of active constituents in small amounts that work synergisticaly."
      Or antagonistically. Or not at all. Unless you study it properly you'll never know. But that would cost money and cut into the profit margins.

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    8. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Letitia MacCuspie

      Lettia wrote "Natural therapies use the whole plant (which these companies cannot patent and make money from) which as you have said contain hundreds of active constituents in small amounts that work synergisticaly."

      Actually, no they don't, they usually use one part of the plant and generally (excluding Traditional Chinese medicine, which does very little processing), the plant material is processed significantly. The pills you buy in the wholefood shops are not raw plant material.

      Preparations…

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    9. Letitia MacCuspie

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      I am not completely ignoring the benefits of modern medicine at all, there are many great benefits to it, but there are also many dangerous side effects that are ignored. Why should people have to take many medications simple because the initial medication prescribed causes side effects that need to be treated with more drugs.

      Modern medicine is wonderful, as is complementary and alternative medicine and 80% of doctors wouldn't refer their patients if they didn't also believe so.

      I rarely…

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    10. Letitia MacCuspie

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Letitia MacCuspie

      And Ian, that is the reason I buy or grow whole herbs and use those, not pills that have been processed.

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    11. Letitia MacCuspie

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Dixon

      and by trying to crush these modalities, there will never be the research, will there? How about pushing to get more research and then it will be there for all to see, whether in for or against.

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    12. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Letitia MacCuspie

      Ms MacCuspie - the reason that science-based medicines can have side effects is that they have EFFECTS. In contrast, homeopathic "remedies" are rarely directly harmful because they contain no active ingredients. (Their secondary harms, financially and by delaying effective treatment, are another matter).

      If a plant contains a chemical that is therapeutic, why doesn't it make sense to extract it, purify it and standardise the dose? Then it becomes a pharmaceutical, but it's available to everyone…

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  16. Leanne Scott

    Student

    William, can you confirm for me the cure rates to some of today's common conditions (asthma, diabetes, etc), as well as the more complex (cancer, etc) remedied via medicine?

    From a layman's perspective, until we see unequivocal 'research based evidence' of concise cause and cure with (let's be optimistic) 100% cure rate, then I'm assuming that medicine is also pretty much in the unproven basket.

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    1. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Leanne Scott

      This makes no sense Leanne. Not every treatment will work on 100% of patients, 100% of the time, nor should we expect it too. But there is a very big difference between treating someone with a treatment that has been evaluated using the scientific method, and shown to be efficacious some or all of the time, compared to treating someone with something that has been tested and shown to work no better than placebo.

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  17. Paul Richards

    logged in via Twitter

    Has anyone mentioned psychologists? They are CAM practitioners, and the medical professionals refer patients to practitioners. Medicare rebates are also available with this referral.

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    1. Rachel McDonald

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Richards

      I do not believe that psychologists fall under the category of CAM practitioners,

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    2. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Rachel McDonald

      Rachel why don't you believe they are? They practice Complementary Alternative Medicine. CAM.

      It's our medical practitioner and psychiatrist who prescribe drugs as medicine. It is generally understood medicine is the science and art of healing.
      Is psychology a science?

      Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge" is it knowledge?
      Are other CAM knowledge based?

      These seem relevant questions if we are going to continue to accept teaching of alternative medicine in universities.

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    3. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to William Bennett

      Efficacy - is the capacity to produce an effect. Naturally It has different specific meanings in different fields, but evidence based assessment has been made in some Complementary Alternative Medicine. [notable exceptions i.e. homeopathy]

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    4. Mike Ng

      Medical student

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Psychology is a science.

      Psychologists are an allied health profession. Therapies are evidenced-based and grounded on sound scientific principles - the same cannot be said for CAM.

      Regards.

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    5. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Ng

      Michael - what science? What scientific principles?

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    6. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Michael you must mean research from the social and natural sciences, and from the humanities, such as philosophy. Sounds like CAM to me.

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    7. Mike Ng

      Medical student

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Hi Paul. I am referring to scientific principles, such as randomisation and blinding, used in the evaluation of psychological therapies.

      Appropriate trials on cognitive behavioural therapy, for example, have shown that it is effective in treating anxiety in autism spectrum disorders.

      While it is true that some branches of psychology incorporate aspects drawn from the humanities, I don't understand how this likens it to CAM. Psychology (and EBM in general), is distinguished from CAM in that its therapies have been shown to work better than placebo in trials adhering to the scientific method.

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    8. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Ng

      Michael that is what CAM practitioners quote verbatim "scientific principles".

      Where is the science?

      I hardly think you can apply systematic reviews of double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials to psychology.

      But it is agreed meta-analyses, statistical validity, clinical relevance, peer-review acceptance and conventional wisdom all apply. However these methods of validation are also claimed by certain CAM practitioners.

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    9. Mike Ng

      Medical student

      In reply to Paul Richards

      A reference for the above study should quell your doubts on psychology: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20067346

      What certain CAM practitioners claim is different to what has been shown in the literature. Scientifically sound experiments conducted on CAM show that they are ineffective or are, at best, suggestive.

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    10. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Ng

      Michael, that hardly qualifies as science. Nice try though : )

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    11. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Ng

      If human psychology were as grounded in science as many people want to believe, many of its historical and contemporary protestation would have been falsified by its own theoretical and clinical failures, and it would be either replaced by something more scientifically accurate, or simply shelve it.

      Hypothetical yes but true, because psychology has never been based in science, and therefore is free of the constraints placed on scientific theories.

      Psychology will continue to be propelled by the same energy source as all CAM, belief.

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    12. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, I'm not sure where you developed this warped opinion of psychology from? Psychology uses the scientific method to develop and evaluate treatments. They develop hypotheses, design experiments, and test the hypotheses - the scientific method. CAM certainly can be evaluated using the scientific method, although most practitioners would rather rely on anecdotal evidence because it's easier.....Many CAM treatments have been evaluated and shown to not work - therefore, they remain in the area of 'alternative medicine' because real medicine only uses treatments that have been shown to work. Pretty simple concept really...

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    13. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Let me guess, you're not a scientist are you? Because if you were you would know what is and what isn't science, and therefore would refrain from making silly comments like the above...

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    14. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to William Bennett

      Michael, developing a position on any disciple is from observation, experience, study and some anecdotal evidence. My conclusion although different from yours shows me there is a great deal of talk of "science" being involved in recent years, and I do acknowledge the evaluations you mention are real.

      However there are literally many hundreds of forms of psychotherapy in use here in Australia that have no basis in science. This demonstrates that psychology mirrors the progress of most not all…

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    15. Mike Ng

      Medical student

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, please note that you are replying to, and quoting, William's message.

      I would suggest that you have a look at the literature before making claims that there are 'many hundreds' of non-scientific psychotherapies in use. Still, if you are able to provide a reference to support such a claim, I will be more than happy to have a look.

      The use of placebo in clinical settings is a separate topic and is not relevant to the issue at hand. I apologise, but I'm not following your line of reasoning. Evidence that placebo is used in clinical practice does not equate to support for CAM by the medical profession.

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    16. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Ng

      Apologies William and Michael for the mix up in names.

      Michael, placebo in clinical settings is a separate topic naturally, I was illustrating that alternative therapy floats in and out of mainstream medicine as appropriate.

      As for many hundreds of non-scientific psychotherapies in use, this list is just an overview as there are many variations in method amongst these tittles; http://goo.gl/2SZTY

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  18. AJ Hyde

    student

    Does anyone have a link to information about friends of science in medicine, like how many members exactly, what are their qualifications etc?

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    1. Rey Tiquia
      Rey Tiquia is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Reema Rattan

      Ths controversy involving the Friends of
      Science and Medicine and CAM practitioners in Australia
      demonstrates the necessity and importance of practising Yin and Yang
      complementarity and dialogue between them.

      Philosopher of Science, Dr. David Turnbull in his book Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers (Harwood, 2000) stated that "science in the general sense of systematic knowledge,was never uniquely Western , having exemplifications in a variety of cultures both ancient and modern, including…

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    2. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rey Tiquia

      Ray Tiquia,

      We have moved forward a long way in science since the herbal practices of the ancient Chinese, the early Australian aboriginals, and word of mouth representation of homeopathy, naturopathy etc. These sources of medicine are not necessarily neglected in modern medicine but the parts of them in proper medical use such as components which are often extracted from plants and animals, have been subjected to rigorous trials and clinical testing following the modern principles of genuine…

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  19. Angela Doolan

    University trained Naturopath SCU, Law student UNE

    FSM and some of the people here would do very well to spend 5 minutes over at greenmedinfo.org - a repository of evidence based research through which the potential or actual therapeutic value of vitamins, minerals, herbs and foods can be determined. They also provide an alternative toxicology database which enables users to access information on the harmful properties of drugs, chemicals, vaccines, etc., which is not readily available elsewhere.

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    1. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      Angela - a good reference?

      It may not have made the issues clearer when it carries tittles like this;
      The Vaccination Agenda: An Implicit Transhumanism / Dehumanism

      With the article posing questions like these -
      * Can vaccines really co-opt, improve upon, and replace natural immunity with synthetic immunity?
      * How many will this require?
      *Are we not already at the critical threshold of vaccine overload?

      Making statements of this kind ......
      "......One might view the basic criteria…

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    2. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      Angela, I'm sorry to say that you are one of the very reasons why naturopathy should not be taught in universities - you linked us to a website that is anti-vaccination, yet apparently you are a "university trained naturopath".

      I actually agree with Paul on this one: the author of this article would not appreciate you linking to that website.

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    3. Angela Doolan

      University trained Naturopath SCU, Law student UNE

      In reply to William Bennett

      The link is greenmedinfo.com, apologies for the incorrect link above.

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    4. Angela Doolan

      University trained Naturopath SCU, Law student UNE

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul it is highly inappropriate to add mischievous links in an attempt to discredit an ENTIRE database. I was directing people to the repository of evidence based articles, but you would like to shut any attempt of that down. Hmm must be some really good stuff on that database. The correct link is www.greenmedinfo.com.

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    5. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      Ok Angela, we got the link - for the third time. No matter how many times you post it, it won't stop it being a whole heap of rubbish.

      And I don't think Paul was being 'mischievous' - there are a whole heap of crazy articles on that website, including conspiracy theories that contrails from aircraft are poisoning us all with chemicals! Wow - I think we need to alert the whacky police!

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    6. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      Mischievous, Angela?

      More like critical thinking.
      The site you quoted was greenmedinfo.com. Right?

      That link I gave was from www.greenmedinfo.com, all I did was shorten it via google shortner. - http://goo.gl/

      In the normal course of my due diligence researching the sites value system.
      I found this and many articles on CAM that many reading here would find inappropriate because they would fall outside their personal value systems.

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    7. Paul Richards

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Angela, any of us can make typos.

      In your tittle "Univeristy trained naturopath, Law student UNE"
      I recommend you change the spelling of university.

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    8. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      Vitamins, minerals and foods are NOT alternative medicine, it was standard medicine that discovered vitamins and the benefits of good nutrition. However, vitamins and such have been taken over by CAM but used in non-standard ways. The use of high or ultra-high doses of vitamins is not good therapeutics, and may even be harmful.

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    9. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Angela Doolan

      One has to be very careful when trying to implement teaching about CAM within Universities. What FSM is objecting to is teaching *undergraduate courses* which accept wholesale unproven or disproven elements.

      Just because we can test something does not mean we should teach it at an undergraduate level *before the results of the tests are in*. Even then, testing some elements of a system does not validate that entire system.

      Teaching Pharmacy students about herbal medicines is important. As…

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    10. Erika Frey

      Pharmacy Student (UTS)

      In reply to Paul Richards

      What's synthetic immunity? I have never heard of it before in all my 5 years of Medical Science education.

      ... I want my money back!

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    11. Paul Richards

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Erika Frey

      "synthetic immunity? I have never heard of it before ......" Erika

      That's because they are CAM specific "weasel words".
      Found in particular abundance in the "story" told about homeopathy.

      http://goo.gl/KpLRN

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  20. Peter Evans

    Engineer

    I find these arguments about CAM and "Western" medicine so infinitely dull. No one ever says the bleeding obvious about medicine and medical practices. There are three types:
    1. About the same as doing nothing
    2. Better than doing nothing
    3. Worse than doing nothing
    Only evidence can determine which category one's claims about a medicine or medical practice fall into.

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  21. Jesse Young

    logged in via Facebook

    "There’s clinical evidence for acupuncture as effective treatment for various conditions, including migraines, tension-type headaches and chronic low-back pain."

    We assessing the balance of evidence for acupuncture you can't cherry-pick three sources, when 'Thousands of acupuncture studies have been done over the last several decades, with conflicting results. Even systematic reviews have disagreed with each other.' (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/acupuncture-revisited/).
    That's…

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    1. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jesse Young

      But when assessing the efficacy of acupuncture, you can't exclude three salient sources just because they don't harmonise with your overall narrative. I have a large number of extremely serious criticisms of the methodology used in acupuncture trials, so much so that objectively speaking their findings must almost be regarded as entirely meaningless. But even still, even considering the enormous inappropriateness of the methodology applied to these testings, the evidence is still in many cases favourable. You can't say that doesn't count, you can't say that, because it seems to work in some cases and not really in other cases then its the end of the story, close the book, close your mind, move on, nothing to see here, etc, etc, etc. Don't leap to an unjustified conclusion out of emotive and ideological motivations.

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    2. Jesse Young

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      I am not excluding them, in fact they're quite indicative of acupuncture research in general - flawed methodologies leading to slightly positive results (which is a well-documented bias in any field of study; for poor quality studies to show a minor positive effect which disappears with higher quality research. This is due to many factors such as publication bias, confirmation bias, the placebo effect and research bias/experiment bias). Acupuncture is also highly implausible, being founded on pre-scientific…

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    3. Richard Dobson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jesse Young

      Ok, you need to be corrected on a number of points.

      1) The studies are actually flawed in a way that leads to more negative results than is truly the case. They do not account for the critical variable of the practitioner's skill, and when we look at the studies conducted in China, where I know from my own experience and observation that the skill of practitioners is higher (in general), we see that much more accurate rates of success are demonstrated.

      2) Acupuncture mechanism is actually highly…

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    4. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Richard Dobson

      Mr Dobson, you say: "Research shows positive association between acupuncture meridians and lower electrical impedance and higher capacitance. The metal needle itself may used possible because metal is a good conductor of electrical current. There is also very high quality MRI research into the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, which are conclusively positive."

      COuld you please explain a couple of things? Firstly, how does MRI show changes in "brain chemistry"? and secondly, could you please link to the evidence that shows the link between acupuncture meridians, impedence, capacitance and CLINICAL effects?

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  22. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    Universities should teach that the CAM industry is infested with charlatans who are more than happy to lie to you about the efficacy of their treatment and smile whilst they take your money.

    In the best case (most cases) the treatment will be completely ineffective and you will have just done your money. In the worst possible case you will die because the quack advised you to avoid medicine.

    Universities should be teaching the truth about CAM and not pandering to indulged fantasies.

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  23. Farida Khizam

    Pharmacist/ CAM Therapist & Educator

    As a pharmacist, I understand Professor Dwyer's concerns but it would appear to me that he has had little involvement with and knowledge of the vast therapeutic benefits of complementary & alternative medicines and therapies (CAM).Professor Dwyer has the right to express his opinions but I do not believe that he should impose them on either government policy, private medical insurance companies or the public -who are opting for integrative medicine in increasing numbers. Why does he seem to ignore…

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Farida Khizam

      It would not matter if it were not so serious. I personally know at least two people who died through being convinced that alternative medicines would cure their cancers and another who followed similar prescriptions to cure pneumonia. A recent comprehensive study in the UK and US has come out very strongly AGAINST the claims of benefit from alternative medicine.

      It seems to me that pharmacists such as Farida, have a very deep vested interest in the promotion of the cheaply produced (no costly…

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  24. Going Green

    logged in via Facebook

    Angela, you are doing well! These arrogant morons claim that the peer-reviewed evidence gives them the right to oust from universities the world's safest, time-tested, inexpensive and most efficacious medicines (nutrient, herbal, mineral and otherwise natural therapies); and yet, when you provide them a site that houses over 18,000 studies sourced directly from the National Library of Medicine all they can do is try to discredit the source. It reflects just how consensus and not evidence-based their model is, which is to say, based on a will to power and not compassion or truth.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Going Green

      Would 'the world's safest, time-tested, inexpensive and most efficacious medicines (nutrient, herbal, mineral and otherwise natural therapies' include bile harvested from bears? Or rhinoceros horn?

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  25. Didier Nave

    logged in via Facebook

    "My naturopath wants me to do a detox"
    "my naturopath wants me to oxygenate my system"
    "my naturopath wants me to do a parasite cleanse"
    "my naturopath wants me to alkalise"
    "I'm allergic to wheat"
    These are statements I've encountered from customers walking into health food stores.with their lists of groceries and supplements
    .Now this indicates a basic ignorance of physiology.If CAM has been taught at Universities for years why have i heard these silly statements on a daily basis? This is…

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  26. Farida Khizam

    Pharmacist/ CAM Therapist & Educator

    Dear John Nicol,
    I'm sorry to inform you that I am not a pharmacy owner so I can dispel your incorrect assumption that, to quote, "Pharmacists such as Farida have a very deep vested interest in the promotion of the cheaply produced (no costly research there) alternative medicines most of which rely totally on anecdotal evidence that they "might" be effective in "some cases" of mroning sickness, headaches, back pain and liver cancer.
    Sorry John!

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    1. Paul Goodsell

      Eco-Warrior / Business Owner

      In reply to Farida Khizam

      Farida, you haven't done much in dispelling this assumption. Where do you derive a substantial amount of your income? You may not run a pharmacy, but I am quite sure you have a financial interest in the credibility of this ludicrous industry.

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  27. Luke Mancell

    Equities trader

    What do you call alternative medicine that is proven to work? Medicine.

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  28. Richard Jamison

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Don't teach it unless it works. By all means, research CAM. Test it scientifically. If you find no efficacy then drop it like the medieval nonsense that most of it is.

    Acupuncture was thought scientific by the Chinese at the same time that used powdered human genitals or tincture of foetus. It's not good just because it's been done for thousands of years.

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  29. Rob Seletto

    Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

    I would like to congratulate Evelin on a well written and researched article.
    As a practitioner of both CAM and western medicine I feel that some of the academics responding to the argument of whether Alternative Medicine should be taugh at universities, have lost view of the big picture of what medicine is all about, by instead focussing their arguments on what entails scientific evidence based research.
    The reason we practice medicine in whatever form or research in medically related fields…

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    1. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      I meant to note of course that all the conditions that I mentioned are not treated successfully by western medicine are treated extremely well by CAM

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    2. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      Rob Seletto,
      Perhaps you might be kind enough advise us, very briefly of course, naming the medicine where appropriate, as to how you would treat each of the following conditions:
      1. Endometriosis
      2. Infertility
      3. Fibromyalgia
      4. Chronic fatigue
      5. Pain from injury
      6. Chronic headaches
      using alternative medicine?
      Thanks, John Nicol

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    3. Marie Josee Shirley Lee-Chee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      This is not a fair question. As CAM practitioners, we do not treat a disease label. I have treated people with all these conditions successfully. In fact, I became a naturopath after a naturopath helped me heal endometriosis when doctors could not. I am living proof 18 years later that CAM works. For those I have treated with each of these conditions, treatment has never been exactly the same.

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    4. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      Thank you Marie for your response, you are quite right that CAM is an individualized treatment to the patients presenting nature, it does not treat disease labels, but to answer John, through predominantly acupuncture with some Chinese Herbal medications as well as lifestyle and dietary advice most patients with the disease states mentioned expect to see quick and long term results. In my practice we have several people a month who are able to fall pregnant within 1-2 cycles after trying unsuccessfully…

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    5. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to William Bennett

      Certainly William, I have the qualification of medical doctor in alternative medicine through post.grad studies with the World Health Organization. What is your area of expertise?

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    6. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to Mike Ng

      Really Michael, you might want to look at the history of anaesthesia, polio vaccines and various other advances of modern medicine. These were used by doctors based purely on subjective experience. The scientific basis for these treatments was shown much later. Surely this is exactly why CAM should be researched and studied in universities. Current double blimd pacebo trials are fine for herbal medicine, but modern techniques such as MRI and PET are validating acupuncture theory.

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    7. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to William Bennett

      MD and what field is yours?

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    8. William Bennett

      Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry at Griffith University

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      I did my PhD in analytical chemistry (currently being examined).

      Did you do you MD(AM) through the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine (IBAM)?

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    9. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      Rob - would you please link to the studies you are referring to that "validate" acupuncture theory?

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    10. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Rob Seletto

      Mr Seletto - what do you mean by "CAM"? Do you consider all modalities that claim ot provide health care as equally valid, just because their proponents say they are? If not, which ones are more valid than others?

      I understand that there is some substance to the manilupative therapies (even if not by the theories they expound), and clearly some herbs contain therapeutic substances (in an impure and uncontrolled form) but what about the infinite dilution of homeopathy?

      Also, could you please…

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  30. Graeme Hanigan

    logged in via Facebook

    Wolfgang Ernst Pauli the Austrian theoretical physicist and pioneer of Quantum Physics coined a phrase which can be used to describe the pseudo-science presented here in favour of CAM.

    Pauli could be scathing in his dismissal of any theory he found lacking, labeling it "utterly wrong".

    However his most severe criticism he reserved for theories so inadequately presented as to be un-testable or un-falsifiable and so not belonging within the realm of science.

    He described such theories by saying; "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"

    I would like to see those universities, who are embracing pseudo-science, apply a little more rigour to their science.
    As a health consumer there better protection in buying a second hand car than there is in the CAM industry.

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Hanigan

      Absolutely Graeme. It is the rigour in the research and subsequent careful clinical trials which are required for whatever process or chemicals are being offered as a form of treatment. John Nicol

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  31. Ian McGrath

    Senior Lecturer

    Perhaps part of the reason Universities have pseudo-science courses such as those being discussed comes from the potential income from Chinese Medicine Confucius Institutes?

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  32. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Ok, I get it now...if i ever get in a car accident I'll be sure to call the Homeopathic Ambulance, be transported to the Wellness ED, be referred to the Ayurvedic surgeon and have Reiki and Acupuncture for my post-operative pain. Thank you Griffith University, I eagerly await this revolution in health care.

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    1. Rob Seletto

      Chinese Medicine practitioner, Acupuncturist, Doctor of Alternative Medicine and Advanced Care Paramedic

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Wellness ED! Now thats a great idea

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  33. Ray Zich

    logged in via Facebook

    I love how a senior lecturer at a university can't even avoid making fallacious arguments from popularity and antiquity. As a Nutrition & Dietetics student, I see how UNcritical my fellow students can be and the credibility given to the scam CAM industry by teaching it in universities would likely result in health professionals 'converting' to the pseudo-scientific side hook, line, and sinker. Teaching this nonsense in universities would also strengthen the public's perception of CAM being a legitimate branch of medicine (which it is NOT). In my opinion, if any classes should be introduced to the curriculum of health sciences, it should be philosophy of critical thinking, logic, and argument, which would ultimately result in MUCH greater self-awareness and improved core competencies then any CAM teachings could ever achieve.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Luke Mancell

      That says it all....

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  34. Farida Khizam

    Pharmacist/ CAM Therapist & Educator

    Integrative Medicine is the combination of allopathic medicine and CAM. I believe both play important roles in treating the whole person from not just a physical dimension- but also emotionally, spiritually and mentally.Unfortunately, rigorous scientific testing doesn't seem to me to be making real in-roads with any other dimension other than the physical. And even there, as a pharmacist, I'm aware of plenty of short-comings in that area too. Strangely enough, th e ‘real scientists’amongst us…

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    1. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Farida Khizam

      The body regards all exogenous substances *including herbal medicines* as "toxins", in the sense that they are broken down by the various xenobiotic metabolising enzymes. The active principles of the herbal medicines St. Johns Wort, Mua Huang, Kava, Valerian, Ginko etc. etc. are broken down by the same enzymes that break down conventional drugs.

      You need to continue dosing with herbal medicines to keep a therapeutic levels as well.

      Herbal medicines with efficacy have exactly the same types…

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    2. Ian Musgrave

      Senior lecturer in Pharmacology at University of Adelaide

      In reply to Farida Khizam

      "the terrible toxicity of the drugs given to immunologically comprised cancer patients. Just what they needed, I suppose. "

      Which drugs are you talking about, it is not clear. Are you talking bout chemotherapy drugs? The vast majority of patients undergoing chemotherapy are not immune compromised. Of those that are (AIDS patients, transplant recipients), at least in AIDS patients chemotherapy for colorectal cancer is not appreciably more adverse than with people with a normal immune system. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2011.06.036

      Complementary medicines do absolutely nothing to cancer survival, that is a large price to pay for having few side effects.

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  35. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    The failure to properly declare pecuniary interest by the writer of the original article was a serious error. Many of the claims about CAM are mere anecdote or ideology. The comment that buying / growing "whole herbs" is best is plain scary --- some of them could be quite poisonous even if the dose is small - and as many have already pointed oput , how do you measure the dose in many of the preparations hawked as cures? Claiming that CAM medicines and those who sell them are in accordance with…

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  36. Going Green

    logged in via Facebook

    There appears to be doubt as to the existence of a substantial body of clinical research supporting acupuncture in disease prevention and treatment. This page contains over 140 studies from MEDLINE indicating acupuncture has potential value in well over 100 conditions http://www.greenmedinfo.com/therapeutic-action/acupuncture

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  37. Travis Morien

    logged in via Facebook

    All of her talk of the great evidence base being used for CAM teaching at universities rings terribly hollow to me when she mentions treatments like acupuncture.

    There are now a large number of big, well designed clinical trials of acupuncture, performed using double blinding, sham treatments, sham needles etc. The outcome of these trials is that we now have a good evidence base to make the statement that acupuncture is not better than a placebo for any known condition and that there are no medical…

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    1. Taylor Arbour

      Acupuncturist

      In reply to Ian Musgrave

      "Eight Cochrane reviews were included. They were all of high methodological quality. They related to a wide range of pain syndromes. Four reviews concluded that acupuncture is effective for migraines, neck disorders, tension-type headaches, and peripheral joint osteoarthritis; one review failed to demonstrate type the effectiveness of acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis; and three reviews were inconclusive for shoulder pain, lateral elbow pain, and low back pain."

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