From acupuncture to aromatherapy, from homeopathy to hypnosis, and from relaxation therapy to reflexology, numerous practices that are termed complementary, alternative, unconventional, or integrative medicine have become increasingly prevalent and popular. Even though many of these therapies encompass diverse modalities and philosophies that usually are considered outside the realm of mainstream allopathic medicine, the use of complementary medicine interventions, visits to alternative medicine practitioners, and expenditures for these therapies are substantial. In the United States, the estimated 425 million visits to unconventional medicine practitioners in 1990 exceeded the number of visits to primary care physicians and the use of unconventional therapy generated expenditures estimated at $14 billion.1 Complementary therapies are used by 20% to 50% of the population in many European countries2 and by 48% of the population in Australia.3
Despite increasing public interest and worldwide use of complementary and alternative therapies, high-quality scientific evidence that clearly
Fontanarosa PB, Lundberg GD. Complementary, Alternative, Unconventional, and Integrative Medicine: Call for Papers for the Annual Coordinated Theme Issues of the AMA Journals. JAMA. 1997;278(23):2111–2112. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550230087045
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