Lipstick on a Pig?

Lipstick on a Pig?

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) wants to change its name to the National Center for Research on Complementary and Integrative Health.

Get rid of ‘alternative’.

“Alternative” refers to “the use of unproven practices in place of treatments we know to be safe and effective,” Briggs said. One reason for the change is that surveys show alternative medicine is only rarely practiced.

Implying that alternative therapy is neither safe nor effective. Works for me. I note lately that distinguishing differences between ‘alternative,’ ‘complementary’ and ‘integrative’ has become an important sales technique in the field. More often than not it is distinctions without differences. Whether you want to refer to naturopathy, homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture etc as alternative, complementary or integrative makes little difference as at their core they are not based in reality.

Add ‘research’ and ‘integrative’ to the title.

For research, I would not be so optimistic. As my wife likes to say, the best way to predict future behavior is to look at past performance.

They are afraid that the current title suggests advocacy or promotion of unproven practices. With over 3800 studies on mostly nonsense and with predominantly negative results, they should at this point be advocates and promoters of NOT using pseudo-medicine. Isn’t research done to apply it?

But a defining characteristic of the modalities studied by the NCCAM is that studies never change practice.

And integrate exactly what into effective and proven therapy? The devil is in the details. As has been discussed at SBM at length integration is one of bait-and-switch buzz words that is the trojan rabbit for truly wackaloon therapies.

Don’t believe me? Enter “integrative medicine clinic reiki” into Google and prepare to be appalled.

As I like to say, If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.

Obfuscating titles are common in the pseudo-medical world, (the AVN as one example) so the proposed name change is fitting.

The NCCAM doesn’t need a name change, it needs to be abolished.

Since 2000, NCCAM has been awarded $2 billion for research, and currently has an annual budget of $134 million.

Yet nearly twenty years of study have shown that most alternative medicine “cures” work no better than placebos, and that NCCAM should be defunded or abolished, according to the authors of an upcoming report in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer. In Culling Non-Science From Scarce Medical Resources, Eugenie V. Mielczarek and Brian Engler examine all NCCAM research between 2000 and 2011, and find no discoveries that justify spending taxpayer dollars to maintain its existence.

Will insurers be forced to pay for pseudomedicine?...
Points of Interest 5/16/2014