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Editor's Correspondence
July 9, 2001

Awareness of CAM Among Residents: A Long Way to Go

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(13):1679-1680. doi:

We found the article by Caspi et al1 very interesting. This article highlights the importance of educating medical students about CAM and suggests inclusion of CAM "language" in medical curriculums. However, the importance of educating residents has not been sufficiently emphasized.

The popularity of CAM is growing. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies 65% to 80% of the world's health care services as alternative medicine.1 About 3% to 93%2 of patients use herbal medicines, which have potentially serious adverse effects including liver and kidney failure. Some of these herbs do have clinical benefits if taken in appropriate doses, but there is no quality control over them and good clinical studies regarding their efficacy are lacking.3 Many of these herbs have potentially serious drug interactions with commonly used conventional medicines such as warfarin, digoxin, oral hypoglycemic agents, and phenytoin.4 Some of them have carcinogenic potential.5 These herbs are dispensed as dietary supplements in the United States, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no control over them.

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