Integrative Medicine vs. The Naysayers

Do you use integrative medicine?  Are you baffled when detractors claim there is no evidence for it?

On July 6th I debated Dr Paul Offit on the radio program Science Friday.  During the debate, and in his book Do You Believe in Magic, he repeatedly claims that there is not enough evidence to include a variety of integrative medicine practices but he fails to actually investigate the evidence that exists.  He also asserts that these alternative medicine practices are quite dangerous.

Listen here and judge for yourself.  Then decide if what is really needed are open-minded skeptics.  People willing to look at the full body of evidence and determine the safety and efficacy of a various therapeutic practices.

While we will always need more research, there is abundant evidence to support dietary changes for health.  Mind body practices have also been widely researched and found to be of value.  And acupuncture and herbal medicines have been shown to be helpful for a variety of conditions.  In addition, these practices are often of very low risk, especially when compared to surgery and pharmaceutical medications.

At the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, where I serve as executive director, we propose that a sliding scale of evidence: the greater the potential for harm (think about chemotherapy) the greater the evidence there ought to be before we use that therapy.  On the other hand, low risk therapies (a massage or yoga) might be recommended with a lesser degree of evidence.