NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

National Institute of Quackery?

October 18, 2002

In 1998 the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine succeeded the Office of Alternative Medicine created in 1992. The former office -- operating on budget of a few million dollars a year -- failed to come up with any new and effective treatments, but it was elevated into the national center and handed what has now grown to $113 million a year.

  • The office was the brainchild of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the subcommittee that funds the National Institutes of Health -- who also became a devout believer in alternative medicine when he sought relief from his allergies by taking massive doses of bee pollen.
  • The center's $113 million is being put into studies which are either biologically implausible or have been useless in previous studies, critics explain.
  • Among those are homeopathy, the use of shark cartilage to cure cancer and magnet therapy for pain.
  • Another therapy is called Therapeutic Touch which promises to cure headaches and stress by a therapist waving hands around the patient until blockage of the "human energy field" -- whatever that is -- is undone .

Then there are the kumbayah remedies like art and dance therapies, guided imagery and massage -- along with efforts to measure the effects of prayer on brain cancer.

Source: Sally Satel (American Enterprise Institute), "Kumbayah Medicine," Forbes, October 28, 2002.

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