Many users of CAM fail to question the potential harm or benefit of such therapies. There is a tendency of laypersons and many alternative medicine practitioners to view anything labeled as alternative, natural, or holistic as safe. This is a false assumption and should not be made regarding any therapy. There is nothing natural about chelating minerals out of or injecting glutathione or acupuncture needles into a person's body. Conventional medicine demands that its prescribed treatments be carefully scrutinized by evidence-based research, mostly in the form of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. These trials scientifically examine both the short and long-term adverse events and potential efficacy of the treatment and also determine detailed guidelines and standards for prescribing a particular therapy. A large discrepancy exists between the popularity of CAM and the concern or interest among its many users and prescribers for good evidence-based research. This is reflected in the scientific medical literature that is marked by a paucity of evidence-based research for the use of CAM in general and specifically for PD. Popularity does not equal safety or efficacy and the author of this chapter and the editors of this book along with most of the conventional scientific community expect and demand well-designed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies for CAM treatments before readily recommending or prescribing them. This is to support the use of CAM by establishing clear guidelines and expectations regarding which therapies are potentially beneficial and which are not or may have associated harmful effects. Gains of future studies of CAM include a wider acceptance of their use by conventional healthcare providers and a bridging of conventional and alternative therapies into a more integrative healthcare system. CAM that are scientifically proven as effective and safe stand a much better chance of becoming incorporated into the mainstream medical system. This may in turn pave the way toward financial reimbursement by health insurance companies. Some therapies may in fact prove to be more cost effective than current conventional therapies.
A challenge for researchers of CAM is that some therapies are difficult to study in the conventional double-blind, placebo-controlled design. For instance, how does one conduct a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of massage therapy, acupuncture, or reflexology? Finally, many alternative healthcare providers would make the argument that there is no one specific therapy to treat a person with PD, but rather numerous therapies and the need for a specific life style long-term to positively impact or prevent any disease state. Eastern medicine operates on the assumption that if one supports the body, mind, and spirit by an array of healthy lifestyle behaviors and prescribed Eastern therapies, the individual will recover from or improve in his or her condition by allowing the body to heal itself. Then one could argue that in order to attempt to truly study the benefits of Eastern medical therapy and the impact upon PD, one would have to perform long-term studies using a combination of a number of Eastern medical treatments. Though there are many challenges to future scientific study of CAM for the treatment of PD, many of these obstacles can be overcome by creative and dedicated alternative and conventional researchers. The future use and role of CAM is evolving. How it evolves in Western society and how it is incorporated into conventional medicine will largely depend upon society, government, and conventional and alternative healthcare professionals as a whole.
Was this article helpful?
Have You Always Been Curious About Acupuncture, But Were Never Quite Sure Where To Stick The Needles? If you associate acupuncture with needles, pain and weird alternative medicine then you are horribly misinformed about the benefits of the world's oldest form of medicinal treatment.