If experimental conditions are not optimised, correct interpretation of results is difficult
Many people throughout the world use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In the United States, for example, a survey of 31 044 adults aged 18 years or older indicated that 36% had used some form of CAM in the previous 12 months.1 This widespread use was one reason why, in 1998, the US Congress established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to conduct rigorous research on CAM practices. CAM includes the use of dietary supplements and other natural products; manipulative interventions such as massage; mind–body approaches such as meditation; energy interventions such as acupuncture; and whole medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine. NCCAM’s mission includes disseminating authoritative information to the public and professional communities concerning which CAM practices are safe and effective and which are not.
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- 2. Nahin RL, Straus SE. Research into complementary and alternative medicine: problems and potential. BMJ 2001; 322: 161-164.
- 3. Chesney MA, Straus SE. Complementary and alternative medicine: the convergence of public interest and science in the United States. Med J Aust 2004; 18: 335-336.
- 4. Hypericum Depression Trial Study Group. Effect of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2002; 287: 1807-1814.
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- 7. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Applying for NCCAM Clinical Trials Grants: points to consider. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/instructions/poc.htm (accessed Nov 2005).
- 8. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Expanding horizons of health care: strategic plan 2005–2009. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/about/plans/2005/index.htm (accessed Nov 2005).
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