LE Magazine March 1998
The Journal of The American Medical Association has finally admitted it can no longer resist the appeal of alternative medicine.
After decades of opposition and neglect, mainstream medicine is now beginning to recognize the value of such alternative fields as nutrition, acupuncture and biofeedback.
A watershed event in this move towards recognition of alternative medicine was a Dec. 17, 1997, editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which stated that the American Medical Association had ranked alternative medicine among the top three subjects (of 86) for its journals to address in 1998 (see accompanying reprint of this editorial).
JAMA declared that it would be publishing two coordinated theme issues on alternative medicine late in 1998, and that it would be publishing papers of this type more frequently in other issues as well. According to the editorial:
"We invite authors...to submit original manuscripts on topics pertaining to complementary and alternative medicine for consideration for publication in JAMA or in one of the AMA Archives journals.... High quality research studies (especially randomized clinical trials) that evaluate the efficacy, safety, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine interventions are of particular interest."
The editorial made it clear that JAMA's newfound interest in alternative medicine has been spurred by the burgeoning interest in the field by the public and increasing interest on the part of a growing minority of physicians. JAMA's editorial took the following position:
"Despite increasing public interest and worldwide use of complementary and alternative therapies, high quality scientific evidence that clearly establishes the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of these interventions is lacking."
JAMA Has It Backwards
This position is contrary to the facts. While it is likely that the primary motivating factor in JAMA's current interest in these therapies is exploding public, physician and media interest in alternative therapies, it is decidedly not true that scientific evidence for the role of nutrition and dietary supplements in preventing and treating diseases is lacking. On the contrary, it is the explosion of scientific papers on nutrition and dietary supplements that has driven the media and public interest in these fields.
The volume of this evidence is so enormous that we at the Life Extension Foundation cannot keep up with it. We are constantly bringing you new evidence in our publications and on our web site (www.lef.org) that nutrition and specific nutrients can help to prevent and treat diseases. Yet, what we bring you is just a fraction of the evidence being published in eminent peer-reviewed journals. In fact, some of this evidence has appeared in JAMA.
The fact that JAMA is pretending that the evidence for alternative medicine is weak is a sign that their attitude about it is less than sincere. If the history of medicine teaches us anything, it is that the establishment is neither fair nor just about new developments in medicine. The usual pattern is first to attack new findings and the scientists who make new discoveries, and then, when the evidence for these discoveries becomes overwhelming, to attempt to take credit for them. It usually goes from "It's totally worthless," to "Perhaps there's some merit in it," to "It was our idea in the first place."
Right now, JAMA (and the medical establishment) is in the second phase of this process. It won't be long before they'll be claiming that mainstream scientists and physicians deserve the credit for discoveries that were made by people outside the mainstream. The good thing about this process is that, in the near future, much of what is now considered "alternative" medicine will become part of medicine per se, as it should be. The bad thing is that the establishment will attempt to deprive many scientists and physicians of their rightful place in history for their discoveries. As the leading proponent of integrative medicine, the Foundation will do everything in our power to keep the record straight and honest.
The Greatest Risk Of An Establishment Takeover
The greatest risk of an establishment takeover of alternative medicine is government and corporate control of dietary supplements, leading to a progressive loss of health freedom and escalating prices for nutrient products. The history of medicine also teaches us that the move for this type of control takes place as soon as the powers at large recognize the value of a new therapeutic approach.
The signs of an establishment takeover regarding the dietary supplement industry are already apparent. You've been reading about them in the pages of Life Extension magazine, in our articles about the international threat of Codex, and the move domestically to regulate herbs as over-the-counter drugs. You've also been reading about the Foundation's efforts to stop this movement cold, and the recent success, spearheaded by John Hammell, in removing Codex harmonization language for dietary supplements from the FDA Reform Act.
Right now, the best thing you can do is to help push Rep. Ron Paul's Consumer Health Free Speech Act (HR 2868) through Congress. Passage of this bill will exempt dietary supplements from the definition of "drug" in the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, which will effectively tie the hands of the forces pushing to curtail your health freedom. A letter that you can use to ask your representatives in Congress to co-sponsor this bill is included after this article.
Please Co-Sponsor The consumer Health Free Speech Act (H.R. 2868)