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May 2, 2012

Studying Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Infectious Diseases, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Department of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 2012;307(17):1803-1804. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.518

In 1992, with an initial budget of $2 million, Congress created the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM). Based on legislation sponsored by Iowa politicians Tom Harkin and Berkeley Bedell, OAM's mission was “to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science.”1 Senator Harkin reportedly believed that bee pollen had cured his hay fever, and Representative Bedell reportedly thought that cow colostrum had cured his Lyme disease.2 They hoped that OAM would prove that alternative therapies like theirs should be brought into the mainstream. Harkin and Bedell's efforts reflected the popular culture; about 50% of US residents use some form of alternative medicine; 10% use it for their children.3

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