Article by Rebecca Landau
Librarian, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center
March 21, 2013
“Will duct tape cure my warts: examining complementary and alternative medicine?” was a 6 week on-line class of NN/LM MAR (Feb 4 – March 15, 2013). Lydia Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator of NN/LM MAR, taught the course. A few MLA-Phil members participated.
The class consisted of on-line discussions, messages, forums, exercises, and an on-line session. Participants shared resources and even shared their own home remedies: salt water gargle for sore throats; tea w/lemon, honey, and/or whiskey for cold season; baking soda paste for itchy skin bite, etc.
The first lesson began with a screencast overviewing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and with definitions of terms used in discussing CAM. Definitions were those used by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Four of those presented are:
CAM is as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine.
Conventional Medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of MD (medical doctor) or D.O.(doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.
Complimentary Medicine is used together with conventional medicine. The example in the screencast was aromatherapy to help with pain after surgery.
Alternative Medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. The example in the screencast was shark cartilage to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation or chemotherapy recommended by a MD.
Following the screencast, participants learned about the history of CAM in the United States. In 1992, the U.S. Congress established the Office of Unconventional Therapies which was later called the Office of Alternative Medicine. In 1998, Congress elevated the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) to the level of a national center named NCCAM. “Recent Milestones in the History of CAM” is available on-line at the following link on the National Press website: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11182&page=20
Participants also read about the history of body manipulation and the beginnings of chiropracty. The article we read is “Chiropractic Manipulation: an Historical Perspective” by James C. Kreig from the Iowa Orthopedic Journal, 1995:95-100 at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2329062/?page=1
The role of the FDA in regulating dietary supplements was addressed in the class through a reading assignment. Participants read the document
“FDA 101: dietary supplements,” on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm050803.htm
The subject of the fourth lesson was CAM Evidence and Evaluation. Participants were directed to the “MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy WebSurfing,” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthywebsurfing.html.
This site describes what to look for when evaluating the quality of health information on the web. Participants were given 4 specific websites and asked to evaluate 3 of them based on criteria (accuracy, authority, bias, currency and coverage of information, etc.) and on information listed on the MedlinePlus Guide website.
Following this lesson, participants answered questions on alternative therapies, herbs, vitamins, etc., using a list of recommended websites. Some of these recommended websites are: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov; Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, OCCAM), http://www.cancer.gov/cam; Office of Dietary Supplements – NIH, http://ods.od.nih.gov.
NLM created a subset of CAM on PubMed. This subset was the focus of our last lesson. CAM can be searched on PubMed as a subset[sb], as a filter, or as one of the topic-specific queries found in PubMed.
By the way if you want to know if duct tape cures warts, search: duct tape and warts on PubMed.