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February 2002

Opening the Doors of Perception: Complementary Approaches to Dermatologic Disease

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Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(2):251-253. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.2.251

ALTERNATIVE, COMPLEMENTARY, holistic . . . the list of synonyms for what we were told (but not taught) in medical school about nonallopathic medicine is a long one. Unfortunately, the emotional fervor of the detractors may cloud the reality that even the most sophisticated drugs we use in our armamentarium have more ties to these other intellectual systems of medicine than is obvious at first glance. Many a medical student is surprised to learn that digoxin is a "natural" product extracted from the noble foxglove, that the universe of penicillins and cephalosporins is built on the back of a bread mold, or that the lovely periwinkle is the source of the potent vinca alkaloids so treasured by oncologists! The ARCHIVES made a quantum leap forward in November 1998, when it published a whole issue on alternative therapies; it is good to see that this flame still burns.