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'The Science of Alternative Medicine'

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    Newsweek Cover: The Science of Alternative Medicine http://channels.netscape.com Complementary and Alternative Therapies Now Being Evaluated In Controlled
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Newsweek Cover: 'The Science of Alternative Medicine'


      Complementary and Alternative Therapies Now Being Evaluated In
      Controlled Scientific Studies as Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Go
      Outside the Traditional Health System

      NEW YORK, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Although nearly half of U.S.
      adults are going outside the health system for at least some of
      their care and spending about $30 billion a year for the privilege,
      few complementary and alternative therapies have been evaluated in
      controlled scientific studies-until now. At research hospitals
      around the country, physicians are studying herbs and biofeedback as
      rigorously as they would a new antibiotic, Newsweek reports in the
      Dec. 2 cover story (on newsstands Monday, Nov. 25).

      Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is not a single,
      unified tradition. The term covers practices ranging from the
      credible (acupuncture, chiropractic) to the laughable (coffee
      enemas), writes Senior Editor Geoffrey Cowley. Because few of these
      therapies have been thoroughly evaluated in controlled studies,
      their effectiveness is still widely debated. But now no one disputes
      their significance. After dismissing CAM therapies as quackery for
      the better part of a century, the medical establishment now finds
      itself racing to evaluate them. The short-term goal is to identify
      the most effective and safe alternative therapies and make them part
      of routine clinical practice. But the larger mission is to spawn a
      new kind of integrative medicine, one that employs the rigor of
      modern science without being constrained by it.

      Studies are now underway to determine whether acupuncture can ease
      arthritis pain, whether vitamin E and selenium help prevent prostate
      cancer and whether ginkgo biloba can preserve mental function in the
      elderly. And while these huge clinical trials plod along,
      researchers are also using state- of-the-art laboratory techniques
      to glimpse the physiological effects of different CAM remedies. By
      placing CAM under the microscope, scientists will no doubt gain a
      better sense of which therapies work, how they work, whether they're
      safe and who is most likely to benefit, writes Cowley.

      Newsweek's cover story also looks at the effectiveness of Chinese
      medicine. Modern science is starting to verify that some of the age-
      old remedies really work and the evidence is promising enough that
      Western researchers have begun looking to China for potential new
      therapies, writes Reporter Anne Underwood. CAM therapies are also
      playing a bigger role in pediatric medicine. Senior Writer David
      Noonan reports that there now is a small but growing cadre of
      researchers who are subjecting pediatric CAM therapies to the rigors
      of traditional, randomized, controlled clinical trials to find out
      what will work best for kids. And in the psychiatric field,
      Americans are avidly pursuing alternative treatments since the
      effectiveness of traditional drugs vary widely from person to person
      and often come with an array of side effects. While the research on
      these therapies is still preliminary, the science is beginning to
      improve, reports General Editor Claudia Kalb.
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