Complementary and Alternative Medicine

posted 11/01/04

Reading assignment:     Ernst, E. (2000).  The role of complementary and alternative medicine. BMJ, 321, 1133-5.

You might be interested in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Ernst (2000)

Some types of alternative medicine

Acupuncture Aromatherapy Chelation therapy Chiropractic Herbalism Homeopathy Iridology Massage Relexology Spiritual healing


Unusual treamtent intervention:

Leibovici, L. (2001).  Beyond science? Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial.  BMJ 2001;323:1450-1451 ( 22-29 December )

Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.
Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
Setting: University hospital.
Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.
Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.
Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.
Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).
Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.

Mortality rate N
Intervention group _____% 1691
Control Group 30.2% 1702
Median IQR Range
Intervention group ____ 4-13 0-165
Control Group ____ 4-16 0-320
Median IQR Range
Intervention group 2 1-4 0-49
Control Group 2 1-5 0-50


History of Homeopathy

Recent research on Homeopathy

Kainz, J. T., Kozel, G., Haidvogl, M., Smolle, J., "Homoeopathic versus placebo therapy of children with warts on the hands: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, " Dermatology, vol. 193, pp. 318-20, 1996.

Why do people believe in ineffective remedies?

Gilovich, T. (1991). How We Know What Isn't So

Pros and cons of holistic medicine