Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, March 11, 2005

Alternative medicine

Alternative medicine

In response to a request from the Florida Board of Governors, Florida State University responded with a proposal to create a college of "Complementary and Integrative Health" within which would be a degree program for "Doctor of Chiropractic." FSU contracted with MGT of America to develop such a plan. The TSS-COPA committee was charged by the TSS board to look into the scientific aspects of alternative medicine. The purpose of this page is to provide information on alternative medicine, with present emphasis on the FSU proposal, to attempt to assist in obtaining an assessment of those therapies that are supported by scientific evidence.

A summary of “alternative medicine” by the AMA reviews and describes a number of themes, one of which is chiropractic. The detailed listing gives numerous journal references, and lists definitions that are useful for categorizing alternative therapies, treatments, and devices: Proven, Experimental, Untested, Folklore, and Quackery.

Research into Alternative Medicine has been underway at some Universities, but generally under the label of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” adopted by the NIH in its National Center for “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” known as the NCCAM. and the Cancer center equivalent OCCAM. These organizations are federally funded and offer research grants within their scope. NIH has a report on the uses of such therapies, though there are those critical of the whole program and now a peer-reviewed journal devoted exclusively to objectively analyzing the claims of "alternative medicine." The National Academies recently released a report regarding standards for CAM research.

At this time in the United States there are a number of courses offered in alternative medicine and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine with a membership from 27 Universities. The oldest centers with developed programs are the Harvard Medical School Osher Institute, The Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and alternative medicine at Columbia University, and the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine as part of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. The American Chemical Society writes that chemists could contribute to scientific investigation of CAM through analysis of natural products.

The establishment of a Chiropractic degree program at FSU is controversial. The FSU arguments for such a program are summarized in a memo that was circulated to the FSU faculty in December with references added from the proposal. More information concerning the chiropractic profession may be obtained from the Florida Chiropractic Association, the American Chiropractic Association, a summary of its philosophy, the FCER research web pages, and, which summarizes the 33 Chiropractic principles.

There are a number of discussions underway at FSU in regard to this issue as can be found by logging onto the Academic Board pages. York University in Toronto Canada has struggled with such issues, but decided against establishing such a college. (See also the book: "Spin Doctors")

Criticisms of the FSU proposal has been offered by Dr. Ray Bellamy.and by Ron Good, a former faculty member at FSU. Good also offers a short essay on pseudo-science.

Those questioning the scientific basis of the medical procedures used in this discipline includes an article in the November/December issue of Skeptical Inquirer, by Harriet Hall entitled "Blind Spots, Brain Maps, and Backaches, A new Chiropractic Delusion." Some aspects of this article can be found on a web link. Such articles maybe found on the "Quackwatch" series of pages. Your Skeptical Guide to Chiropractic History, Theories, and Practices Operated by Stephen Barrett, MD, and Samuel Homola, DC lists the FSU proposal as a "hot topic."

The Capital Medical Society has a short position paper opposing the creation of the FSU Chiropractic School.. However, they indicate that their position is not opposing the chiropracticprofession itself since there are no ethical or collective impediments to full professional association and cooperation between doctors of chiropractic and medical physicians.

The governing bodies who will be considering the FSU proposal for establishment of the new college and school is the FSU Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors.. Email addresses for the Florida BOG.

The Graduate Policy Committee deferred action on the proposed chiropractic school on procedural grounds at its meeting January 10th.. and the FSU BOT has turned the decisions back to the Florida BOG, which defeated the proposal at its January 27th meeting. The TSS recommendation was sent to the Board 26 January.

Joseph Cain
for COPA

Updated: 27 January 2005