- Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy > Medicines Policy
- Traditional Medicine > Traditional, Complementary and Herbal Medicine
(2002; 70 pages) [French] [Spanish]
Uncritical enthusiasm versus uninformed scepticism
Many TM/CAM providers seek continued - or increased - recognition and support for their field. At the same time many allopathic medicine professionals, even those in countries with a strong history of TM, express strong reservations and often frank disbelief about the purported benefits of TM/CAM. Regulators wrestle with questions of safety and efficacy of traditional herbal medicines, while many industry groups and consumers resist any health policy developments that could limit access to TM/CAM therapies. Reports of powerful immunostimulant effects for some traditional medicines raise hope among HIV-infected individuals, but others worry that the use of such "cures" will mislead people living with HIV/AIDS and delay treatment with "proven" therapies.
So together with growing use of TM/CAM, demand has grown for evidence on the safety, efficacy and quality of TM/CAM products and practices. Interestingly, much of the scientific literature for TM/CAM uses methodologies comparable to those used to support many modern surgical procedures: individual case reports and patient series, with no control or even comparison group.
Nevertheless, scientific evidence from randomized clinical trials is strong for many uses of acupuncture, for some herbal medicines, and for some of the manual therapies.
In general, however, increased use of TM/CAM has not been accompanied by an increase in the quantity, quality and accessibility of clinical evidence to support TM/CAM claims.