COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE – IS IT LEGAL?

By Carol Mack

Health care costs are skyrocketing. Insurance premiums are going through the roof and co-pays are increasing each year. Despite these costs, or perhaps because of them, Americans spend almost $34 billion dollars a year of their own money for unconventional and unproven treatments. The latest figures show that approximately 38 percent of adults in this country use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) instead of, or in addition to, conventional medical care.

What isCAM?CAMis generally defined as those healing practices that fall outside of conventional medicine. These practices include, among others, the use of herbal remedies, traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, energy therapies, and chiropractic.

Consumers may think that therapies that are openly promoted and not prohibited by law are safe and effective. However, the legal position of CAMis related far more to political pressures than to any scientific evidence of safety and efficacy.

Go to Jail for Chiropractic!

Chiropractic was the first CAM to be licensed as an alternative therapy inCaliforniaand is still the most popular. The story behind its licensure is illustrative. Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer. Legend has it that by manipulating a cervical vertebra, Palmer restored the hearing of a janitor who had been deaf for 17 years. After this initial success, Palmer set about developing a new system of medicine that he based on the traditions of bonesetting and magnetic healing, which were common practices at the time. Borrowing concepts from both traditions, Palmer taught that the body has an “innate intelligence” that allows it to heal itself and that all illnesses are due to “subluxations” or misalignments of the spine. Spinal adjustments would correct the subluxations and allow healing to occur.

Continue reading – January issue of CITATIONS (page 18)

Carol Mack is a nurse, nursing teacher and attorney practicing in Ventura.

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