Today Skepchick Approved® Chicago Tribune reporter Trine Tsouderos is discussing a little part of the US’s National Insistute of Health called the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
As skeptics we are generally, well, skeptical of CAM, and with good reason — once a treatment is proven to work, it goes from being “alternative” to being “not alternative”. Being proven to work is the thing that takes the quotation marks off of the word medicine. And at the pharmacy a label that says “natural alternative” or other CAMtastic buzzword is a label that implicitly says “NOT MEDICINE”.
But there are things out there that can work, maybe possibly… or even maybe probably, that aren’t yet embraced by “Western medicine”. NCCAM is in charge of finding those things. And they have $128 Million to do that.
The center’s recently adopted strategic plan focuses on studies of supplements and other natural products along with the effect of “mind and body” therapies like yoga, massage andacupuncture on pain and other symptoms. In fiscal years 2008-2011, NCCAM funded more than $140 million in grants involving mind and body therapies, including $33 million for pain research in fiscal 2011.
Now part of me thinks that we shouldn’t be putting millions of dollars of research into figuring out if my qi needs a happy ending to fix my migraines, but another part of me thinks it’s important to study CAM because, you know, what if?
But then $128 Million is a lot of money… and what if we used that money to fund therapies with a chance of working?
How do you feel about funding these therapies? Are we wasting money on studying CAM? Is there a benefit? How would you feel about a loved one being a part of a NCCAM study? What CAM treatments do you think are acceptable for use/study?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.