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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Only 20? Check the Stacks

Just today I learned from an area educational radio station that other than mainstream medicine is "mysterious".

I am not so sure if something that formed the basis of medicine in this country and has been around for 6000 or more years is mysterious.  This is especially true when you realize that there is so much existing science supporting it that has existed for many, many decades.

Surely it is just ignorance that people seem to think all of this is just something of a fad or new, and will pass along quietly.

Sure sounds strange to me since I've been studying and using natural health for over 50 years.  Even my father learned it when he was at Tulane Med School in the 1920s.

Just stop calling it alternative, integrative, or complementary.  Call it by what it has always been: Natural Health and First Medicine.
The year 2011 happens to be not only the 40th anniversary of the government's War on Cancer but also the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), now the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). This seems like an appropriate time to look back on the founding of the OAM and the political struggles that attended its birth.

Twenty years ago, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) was chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversaw the $10 billion-a-year NIH budget. Harkin drafted a piece of legislation, which former Congressman Berkley Bedell (D-IA) intensively lobbied for among his former colleagues. Broadly speaking, the idea was to rectify problems that had been revealed by a report on alternative medicine from the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).

On November 22, 1991, Congress passed Harkin's bill, mandating the formation of an "Office for the Study of Unconventional Medical Practices" within NIH. The office bypassed the roadblock to the study of complementary and alternative (CAM) treatments. Some NIH officials were not exactly thrilled when they woke up to discover an office of "quackery" plunked down in their midst. For some, it was as if the Roman Curia had capriciously sanctioned in the basement of the Vatican an office for the propagation of atheism!

The office was given a small budget of $2.2 million that first year - less than a thousandth of the overall NIH appropriation. "Though just a drop in the bucket by federal budget standards," wrote Congressional Quarterly, "the office is a symbol of the new visibility being won by medical treatments that haven't gained mainstream approval" (1/31/92). By contrast, the FY 2011 budget request for NCCAM is $132,004,000! (

The acting director of the office was Stephen Croft, D. Pharm, Croft appointed an ad hoc advisory board and called its first public meeting for June 17-18, 1992. Unlike the OTA staff, the NIH warmly welcomed all those interested in alternative medicine to come and present their views. Jay Moskowitz, PhD, deputy director of the NIH, opened the meeting. His friendliness towards the initiative was palpable. Complete Article

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