Nathan Wei, MD, Rheumatology, 10:33AM Jun 19, 2013
A recent article caught my eye (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/805545). Basically, it was a point/counterpoint discussion on what physicians should do when patients bring uop the topic of CAM. I would venture a guess that more than 90 per cent of my patients use one form or another of CAM. About 8 years ago was the first time that Americans spent more money on CAM than they did on traditional medicine. That trend has continued.
Why is that? Well... I think it's because of a number of factors including distrust of big PHARMA, the decreasing use of hands on in favor of technology, and maybe... the fact that many forms of CAM are effective.
Yoga, one of the forms of CAM mentioned in the article above, was described by a physician as being "glorified stretching." Obviously, that physician had never taken yoga. Yoga is a philosophy that goes way beyond stretching. And, in fact, the breathing and other aspects of yoga appear to be what make it appealing.
Acupuncture is another form of CAM that has had studies either supporting it or denying it has any benefit. I'm not sure about the rest of you but alot of my patients go to an acupuncturist and swear by it.
The reason clinical trials are double-blinded is that investigators convey through subtle body gestures what treatment a patient is getting (or not getting) if they aren't blinded. One could argue that placebo is a form of CAM. In arthritis clinical trials, it's not uncommon to see placebo responses of 40-45%.
Finally, how about prayer? Whether one worships at a church, synogogue, or mosque, the person believes in the presence of a Supreme Being. Isn't that a form of CAM? Can you imagine telling a person they shouldn't worship because the existence of God hasn't been proven in rigid, standardized, scientific studies?
Sure there are caveats... seeing someone who knows what they're doing... muddling through the medicolegal aspects of what to say... and so on. But if something helps my patient to feel better, I'm for it.