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There is no alternative medicine
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  • Published on:
    Alternative Medicine is a Useful Concept
    • Harri Hemila, Adjunct professor University of Helsinki, Finland

    Pekka Louhiala argues, "there is no alternative medicine" because "it escapes a meaningful definition, and 'alternative medicine' cannot be clearly differentiated from conventional medicine" [1]. I do not consider that his arguments are valid.

    Louhiala does not mention the definitions that have been proposed for "alternative medicine". For example, Eisenberg defined alternative medical therapies as "interventions neither taught widely in medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals" [2]. Cochrane collaboration defined: "Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health system of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. CAM includes all such practices and ideas self-defined by their users as preventing or treating illness or promoting health and well-being. Boundaries within CAM and between the CAM domain and that of the dominant system are not always sharp or fixed" [3]. These definitions are not exhaustive, but they capture what I think is the most essential.

    These definitions consider that the relevant factor for setting up the boundary around alternative medicine is by the lack of social acceptance within mainstream medicine. Thus, alternative medicine consists of i...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.