The use of complementary and alternative medicine is an increasingly popular, but dangerous trend

The Gauntlet


Adverse effects from the H1N1 vaccine must be getting to the Canadians…. LB

December 3, 2009

By Nicole Dunne

Alternative medicine consists of products or treatments used for health benefits, but is not always evidence-based. It is often based on cultural and traditional health practices or more recent disproved theories that have remained popular within certain fringe groups. Common types include homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism and bio-identical hormone therapy.

Generally speaking, complimentary medicine is less regulated, or self-regulated, and should be required to meet the same standards as conventional medicine. Despite little evidence for alternative medicine, public support is growing.

According to a study released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002, use of complementary and alternative medicine increased substantially during the 1990s. The study estimated that the U.S. public spent between $36 billion and $47 billion on alternative therapies in 1997. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the U.S. public paid out-of-pocket  for all hospitalizations and about half that paid for physician services that year.

Why is the use of alternative medicine growing? Few studies have looked into the social parameters of alternative therapy; however, growing wait times for Canadian medical treatments and financial barriers to care in the U.S. may be a possibility. Also, people are increasingly trusting doctors and pharmaceutical companies less ­- possibly a paradoxical result of the advent of evidence-based medicine. Most people aren’t concerned with the fatality of minor bacterial infections, the devastation of epidemics like measles or polio or the agony of surgery without anesthesia thanks to advances in conventional medicine. Instead, people are now faced with occasional complications from treatments and drugs.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.