Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What You Don’t Know


What is Evidence-based medicine?

This term refers to the type of medicine that is normally practised in the Western world. It includes the whole range of treatment involving drugs, surgery and modern medical practices. The easiest way to define it, is to look at the way it is practiced:
* It is usually offered to patients by medically trained doctors, nurses and other University educated staff. Medical training can take some years and is usually followed by rigorous internship.

* The treatments offered, as the words ‘evidence-based’ suggest, have been trialled and tested to prove their worth.

* This type of medicine is normally subject to rigid health regulations, usually put in place by government laws.

What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine?

This is the practice of medicine which is usually offered privately, for example by chiropractors, osteopaths and natural healers, such as traditional Chinese or Indian practitioners:

* It is not usually offered in public health institutions.
* The treatments offered have not been subject to strict scientific testing.
* The different schools of complementary medicine have different ways of regulating their members.

Does a relationship exist between Evidence-based and Complementary and alternative medicine?

In the past doctors and nurses training at medical school have been taught that there is no relationship between evidence-based and complementary and alternative medicine. They have even regarded the unregulated practitioners as charlatans and fraudsters.

There have been some examples of fake healers, such as psychic surgeons who were found to have used lumps of sheeps fat. Slowly though, some medical organisations are starting to realise and teach that some complementary and alternative medicines do work. For example; St Johns Wort, a herbal remedy, is now used to treat mild depression.

The evidence-based medical world will always need to show that there is a proven basis to any medicine, treatment or outcome. But once this is done, many more complementary and alternative medicines and treatments may be added to the public health system.