1 Comment on ASMI Media Release – Complementary Medicines Improve Health

  1. The item claims that Complementary Medicine has the potential to produce a net economic benefit of $1.8 billion from 2015-2020.
    However, of the six treatments that were investigated, only one is complementary.
    The news report covers vitamin D and calcium supplementation for osteoporosis. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation is not complementary medicine, but conventional medicine, with the optimal doses and patient populations being worked out in clinical trials after basic research determined the mechanism of action of the hormone. Similarly, folic acid and omega fatty acids for cardiovascular disease are not complementary medicines, but conventional medicines. They were again discovered and developed by conventional research and clinical trials
    That something can be purchased over the counter without a prescription does not make it complementary, paracetamol would never be claimed as a complementary medicine. Being a vitamin does not make something a complementary medicine. Using vitamin C to treat Scurvy or folic acid to prevent neural tube defects is conventional medicine, while using vitamin C to treat colds is a complementary use (which is still promoted in the face of continued evidence that it is ineffective).
    The benefits of these regimes may be overestimated. The report did not examine some of the latest systematic reviews on omega fatty acids that have concluded there is no or minor effects. The review of the only actual complementary medicine, St. John’s Wort, does not factor in the life threatening drug interactions that it causes in the cost benefit analysis, and seems to be promoting self-medication for a significant illness.
    Claiming conventional medical treatments (such the vitamin D and calcium supplementation highlighted in the news article) show that complementary medicines have significant economic benefits is highly misleading.
    Yours sincerely
    Ian Musgrave
    Senior lecturer in Pharmacology University of Adelaide

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