CFI Opposes Funding for Non-Evidence Based Funding
October 5, 2009
CFI has always been a strong advocate for increasing funding for scientific institutions. So why did we come out with a report calling for Congress to end funding to a Center that is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Because the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is spending taxpayers’ dollars on “healing” techniques that have no scientific basis. In fact, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics and the US Department of Health and Human Services, “ By definition, [Complementary and Alternative Medicine] practices are not part of conventional medicine because there is insufficient proof that they are safe and effective”. The fact that there is insufficient proof is not because of a lack of funding. An article by the Associated Press dated June 10, 2009 states “ The new center was given $50 million in 1999 (its budget was $122 million last year) and ordered to research unconventional therapies and nostrums that Americans were using to see which ones had merit.” The article goes on to explain that in every other Institute that is part of the NIH, scientific evidence is required to justify a study. The opposite approach taken at the NCCAM has yielded almost no evidence that alternative treatments work. For example, a recently published study on the effects of Reiki on fibromyalgia patients resulted in the conclusion that “Neither Reiki nor touch improved the symptoms of fibromyalgia.” The conclusion for this study goes on to state that “modalities such as Reiki should be rigorously studied before being recommended to patients with chronic pain symptoms.” So, this “factorial designed, randomized, sham-controlled trial in which participants, data collection staff, and data analysts were blinded to treatment group” found no evidence that Reiki and healing touch provide treatment for fibromyalgia, but the conclusion is that we should spend more money on studies before we recommend it to patients? The logic doesn’t follow. It is important to keep in mind that the field of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) is vast and includes everything from nutritional and herbal supplements, to yoga and meditation, to acupuncture and energy healing. Our point is not that all of these treatments are shams; it is simply our belief that funds for CAM research should be granted based on scientific evidence, as funds are allocated in other institutes at the NIH.