Dr Fontanarosa is Senior Editor, JAMA, and Dr Lundberg is Editor, JAMA.
There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven,
evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for
which scientific evidence is lacking. Whether a therapeutic practice is "Eastern"
or "Western," is unconventional or mainstream, or involves mind-body techniques
or molecular genetics is largely irrelevant except for historical purposes
and cultural interest. We recognize that there are vastly different types
of practitioners and proponents of the various forms of alternative medicine
and conventional medicine, and that there are vast differences in the skills,
capabilities, and beliefs of individuals within them and the nature of their
actual practices. Moreover, the economic and political forces in these fields
are large and increasingly complex and have the capability for being highly
contentious. Nonetheless, as believers in science and evidence, we must focus
on fundamental issues—namely, the patient, the target disease or condition,
the proposed or practiced treatment, and the need for convincing data on safety
and therapeutic efficacy.
Fontanarosa PB, Lundberg GD. Alternative Medicine Meets Science. JAMA. 1998;280(18):1618-1619. doi:10.1001/jama.280.18.1618