Examining Alternative Medicines

Examining Alternative Medicines

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Almost 40 percent of US adults and 12 percent of US children have used complementary or alternative therapies, according to a 2007 survey by NCCAM, and much of what was once considered “alternative,” including acupuncture, is now part of more-holistic regimens offered at 40 percent of US hospitals, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Researchers who study the scientific validity of nonconventional treatments rarely see them as stand-alone remedies, preferring to call the union of conventional and nonconventional “integrated therapy.”

The Scientist staff asked experts about the scientific evidence for a number of treatments that may be on the verge of becoming incorporated into integrated therapies, from acupuncture and probiotics to marijuana and psychedelics. We sought to highlight the data that either supports or contravenes the effectiveness of these alternative therapies.

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