The Role of Science in CAM

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Science is defined as the study of knowledge. For as long as there is something new to learn, science would intervene for the unquenchable search for new information and understanding. Same happens for the study of alternative medicines.

Submitted: September 22, 2015

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Submitted: September 22, 2015

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Science is defined as the study of knowledge. For as long as there is something new to learn, science would intervene for the unquenchable search for new information and understanding. Same happens for the study of alternative medicines.

As a non-profit organization advocating on alternative, complementary and integrative medicines, The Peterson Group is often faced with numerous complaints regarding the lack of evidences on conventional medicines and questions on issues which we, admittedly, have not yet known ourselves. We call for more research and pragmatic trials which are rarely seen from treatments claiming benefits from mere touch. In gathering evidences from some of the most notorious places to use alternative medicines, we have learned how culture has been one of the biggest factors in it adaptation and success. Science is a mere coincidence as the treatment in acupuncture in China, herbs in South Korea, smoke treatments in Bangkok, Thailand and homeopathy in Jakarta, Indonesia continue to stay mainstream despite of its conventionalism.

Science is meant to be unbiased and risk culture and tradition in order to prove a treatment’s effectivity. Yet, in order for the components of an outcome to be fully measured, specific effects of the intervention and non-specific effects such as true placebo effects, cognitive measurement biases and other effects should be included.

Negative true placebo effects (‘frustrebo effects’) in the comparison group and cognitive measurement biases in the comparison group and the experimental group make the non-specific effect look like a benefit for the intervention group. However, the clinical importance of these effects is often dismissed or ignored without justification. The bottom line is that, for results from open pragmatic trials to be trusted, research is required to measure the clinical importance of true placebo effects, cognitive bias effects, and specific effects of treatments.

Science has greatly stated that just because alternative method is known to extract placebo effect which can treat a certain disease or ailment, it would immediately justify its processes. It does not even assure that all medicines claiming to be alternative are not fraudulent. Therapy should be measured on the treatment’s capability to alter physiological condition and not base on the less predictable placebo effect. Science has the critical role to make sure that all evidence is prevalent and not just a hinting thought.

Medical facts are determined through a process in which hundreds of medical practitioners and scientists are gathered for observation, deliberation and review. It is not, as they emphasize something which can be decided with a single cure of luck.


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