NCCAM’s Briggs calls for "more nuanced" conversation about complementary and integrative medicine in JAMA editorialIn a prominent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Josephine Briggs, MD has called for a "more nuanced conversation" from the scientific community

NCCAM’s Briggs calls for “more nuanced” conversation about complementary and integrative medicine in JAMA editorial

In a prominent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Josephine Briggs, MD has called for a “more nuanced conversation” from the scientific community regarding the potential value of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine. Briggs, the director of the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, co-authored the piece, blandly entitled “Perspectives on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research,” with her long-time deputy, Jack Killen, MD. They review the agency’s work since 1999, ticking off the main areas of positive and negative findings. They note the inclusion of mind-body, acupuncture and other therapies in guidelines of major conventional organizations. The accomplishments are book-ended by strong pitches for a more “nuanced conversation” about the therapies and practitioners NCCAM is charged to explore. The push for a “more fresh, nuanced and more balanced conversation,” as she states in an accompanying You-Tube video, is repeated three times.

Comment: Well done, Drs. Briggs and Killen! Of course the anti-CAM/IM polarizers, those Bulls in the Science Shop, immediately responded with a reiteration that “the vast majority of CAM is pure quackery.” Briggs and Killen make their points well. The clear goal is marginalizing these birthers who just won’t take positive evidence as an answer. I honor the restraint shown by Briggs and Killen. At a time when the revolution in medicine requires a move toward “creating health” rather than delivering procedures (see the comments from the Mayo director of innovation, this Round-up), a more appropriate response to these mainly men but some women behaving like little boys and girls might be the Maoist prescription of sending them to the countryside for re-education. But then that is hardly the spirit of integration, is it? Good for JAMA, which recently included various CAM approaches in its consumer site on non-pharmacological approaches to pain, for providing the platform. One small step for humankind. For additional perspective on “balance” in this dialogue, see this somewhat gratuitous positioning statement from the British Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

American Journal of Medicine features positive review of integrative medicine from Sierpina and Dalen

University of Texas integrative medicine leader Victor Sierpina, MD, a former chair of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative, and James Dalen, MD, a leader in the establishment of the University of Arizona integrative medicine program, co-authored an opinion piece called “The Future of Integrative Medicine” in The American Journal of Medicine, June 13, 2013. The authors have an inclusive approach to who might be an integrative medicine practitioner: “More and more patients seek integrative medicine practitioners. By 2007, approximately 40% of adult Americans and 12% of children were using some form of alternative therapies compared with 33% in 1991.” The focus then shifts to developments in MD integrative medicine and concludes: “Now on the horizon is a more pluralistic, pragmatic approach to medicine that is patient-centered,
that offers the broadest range of potential therapies, and that advocates not only the holistic treatment of disease but also prevention, health, and wellness.”

Comment: Must have been a double whammy for the anti-CAM/IM Bulls in the Science Shop to see this flattering, supportive view of the advance of integrative medicine just months before the JAMA decision to publish the Briggs-Killen piece.