Why can chiropractors purport to “detect” and “correct” subluxations, even though subluxations don’t exist? Why can your local pharmacy sell a little bottle of water, otherwise known as a homeopathy, as a cold remedy? Why can naturopaths claim that colonic irrigation will rid your body of toxins? None of this has any plausible basis in science, so how do they get away with it?

Because Congress and your state legislature allow it.

At present, there is not a single grassroots organization in the United States dedicated solely to standing up for the consumer against these worthless, and possibly dangerous, treatments. (Public Citizen, to its credit, advocates for greater regulation of dietary supplements.) Unfortunately, there are plenty of organizations and corporations fighting in Congress and before the state legislatures for your “right” to access unproven and potentially unsafe treatments – the American Chiropractic Association, the Samueli Institute, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the Alliance for Natural Health, among others. They also fight attempts to impose reasonable consumer protections on their products and practices. And they have millions of dollars, a lot of it from the multi-billion dollar CAM industry, to do it.

So, what to do? Well, if state and federal laws are a big part of the problem, then we need to know what is already out there and attempt to change it. We also need to know when new legislation is introduced that could exacerbate the situation. And that is happening all the time. A new legislative session is about to begin in many states and naturopaths, for example, are gearing up to introduce licensing legislation in a number of them.

I’ll do my part by trying to keep you abreast of pending legislation. You can do your part by contacting your state and federal representatives to oppose pro-CAM legislation and support legislation to curb CAM abuse of consumers. Look up your state and federal representative on the internet. Call them, e-mail them, write them by snail mail, visit them. They need to hear from consumers and you know likely know more about CAM than most because you support the Society for Science-Based Medicine. You’re a member, right?

Please check back regularly. I aim to post new legislation once a week. I’ll also fill you in on current CAM law so you can advocate for change. And I’ll try to keep you up with pending court cases and other legal matters affecting CAM as well.

Jann Bellamy