Note that some links will break as pages are moved, websites are abandoned, etc.
If this happens, please try searching for the page in the Wayback Machine at www.archive.org.
A selection of skeptical articles and reports examining CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine).
A close look at 'alternative' medicine
"After a decade of research, and 2.5 billion dollars of taxpayer money, government funded research into so-called "alternative" medicine has little to show for it… The NCCAM double standard has not served the public well. It has wasted a great deal of money, and worse it has given a significant boost to health claims and modalities that don't work and the practitioners who use them. The NCCAM should go away." Article by Steven Novella, NeuroLogica blog (11th June 2009)
The Quackometer's guide to inventing a new branch of alternative medicine in 10 easy to digest holistic tips. (29th March 2009)
"The long and short of it all this is simple. "Integrated medicine" is a term that, to many consumers, sounds seductively attractive; its two basic concepts seem meritorious. In reality, it is a shabby smoke screen behind which unproven or disproven treatments are (re-)admitted into routine healthcare. When this happens, patients are clearly not better but worse off, and healthcare is in danger of disintegrating into utter nonsense." Article by Professor Edzard Ernst, BBC 'Scrubbing Up' blogspot (25th March 2009)
"Experts and lay people alike can sometimes find it difficult to demarcate the absurd. Here I propose a set of criteria that may be helpful in achieving this in the realm of healthcare: falsifiability, plausibility and some hallmarks of pseudoscience. Applying this method is unlikely to be fool-proof but it might be a valuable aid in discriminating credible from incredible health claims." Commentary by Professor Edzard Ernst, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (February 2009)
"While some therapies do provide some health benefits (e.g. osteopathy), most have nothing to offer. Many popular therapies are "effective" only because they are good at eliciting a placebo response; making the patient feel better simply because they believe the treatment will help. You might feel that as placebos help patients this alone justifies the use of the therapy. But any treatment that relies on the placebo effect is essentially a bogus treatment. And it's far from cheap. If alternative practitioners are making unproven disproven or vastly exaggerated claims and if their treatments carry risks then we are being swindled at the expense of our own good health." By Simon Singh and Professor Edzard Ernst Daily Mail (April 2008)
"…the vast majority of the gadgets, medicines, books, etc. seemed to be everything but evidence-based. In fact, one had to look long and hard to find anything associated with evidence at all. When I asked whether this was perhaps unusual, I was told that this show was much like the many others that take place all over the world…..Healthcare gadgets that do not demonstrably work are not health care, they are just trickery, and medicines that do not work are at best a rip-off." Edzard Ernst, Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] (March 2008)
"Put not your trust in princes, especially not princes who talk to plants. But that's what the government has decided to do. The Department of Health has funded the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Healthcare to set up the Natural Healthcare Council to regulate 12 alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy. Modelled on the General Medical Council, it has the power to strike therapists off for malpractice. This is perplexing. How does a regulator decide what is good practice and what is charlatanry when none of it has peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that it works?" Polly Toynbee, The Guardian (8th January 2008)
R. Barker Bausell says he arrived at the University of Maryland's alternative medicine centre with an open mind toward exploring the potential of acupuncture, herbal remedies and other unconventional treatments. But after five years as research director, he quit the Center for Integrative Medicine in 2004, convinced of one thing: None of the alternative treatments he has seen works any better than a placebo. Baltimore Sun (2nd January 2008) [Two-page article]
"Exotic therapies such as acupuncture might make people feel good. But the role of medicine is to cure patients' illnesses, not make them happy." Article by Stuart Derbyshire, Spiked Online (28th November 2007)
Why is no one questioning the rise of new-age nonsense in the name of science? Article by David Colquhoun, The Guardian (15th August 2007)
Oncology specialist, Professor Jonathan Waxman of Imperial College London speaks out against the "vile and cynical exploitation" of cancer patients by the purveyors of alternative medicine. British Medical Journal (25th November 2006)
"…with regard to CAM, patients may be in the driving seat but they are not in a good position to steer safely. They are either left in the dark, e.g. by conventional healthcare providers, or they are offered information that is inaccurate, e.g. by providers of CAM…..it is clearly legitimate and necessary to insist that CAM practitioners provide reliable information to their patients. In fact, the provision of full information on medical treatment is a precondition for informed consent, which is a fundamental legal and ethical requirement for all healthcare providers, including CAM practitioners." Edzard Ernst, Focus on Alternative and Complementary Medicine [FACT] (September 2006)
Professor John Crown, consultant medical oncologist at St Vincent's and St Luke's Hospitals, Dublin, hits out at complementary and alternative medicine, branding it "intellectually dishonest" and accusing it of capitalising on the vulnerability of seriously ill patients. Irish Medical News (6th February 2006)
"…regardless of their intentions, the fact remains that those in alternative fields just do not have the training to identify the sometimes subtle presentations of severe illness." Clay Bartram, MD, Unintelligent Design (29th November 2005)
Part 3: 'Dealing with the Competition (the finale)'. Article by Prometheus, A Photon In the Darkness blogspot.com (October 2005)
Article by Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRCPEd., Clinical Medicine (July/August 2005) [free full text pdf]