Complementary and Alternative Therapies: Medicine’s Response
The National Institutes of Health estimates that 36 percent of people in the U.S. use some form of “CAM” (complementary and alternative medicine). Some physicians scorn CAM products and practices as prescientific quackery; others integrate CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness into their care for patients. Contributors to this issue agree that, whatever their views, physicians owe it to their patients to understand CAM and its appeal and be willing to counsel patients about its use.
Discussing CAM offers an opportunity to study the development of basic medical science that refuted vitalism, homeopathy, humoral theory, miasma theory, the doctrine of signatures, and other prescientific myths that persist today.