Why fund human cancer and chronic illness research when there are so many other great causes?
According to American Cancer Society 2007 cancer statistics, cancer accounts for 1 out of 4 deaths in the U.S. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90 million Americans live with chronic illnesses and chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Finding more proven medical options can benefit all human beings.
Why fund Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) research when there is much media focus at the national and state level on Universal Healthcare or Healthcare Reform?
AlterMed Research Foundation is addressing a separate issue than how everyone can have healthcare insurance. We are focused on the individual who has a degenerate disease that our mainstream healthcare has not been able to treat or prevent. To that individual, it matters. Chronic diseases account for 70% of all deaths in the U.S. Chronic diseases that our conventional medicine have not been able to address is a common human concern; even if we do not deal with it ourselves today, most of us have family members or friends that do.
Why fund complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research instead of conventional medicine?
Funding CAM research creates more proven options for human beings in areas where conventional medicine is ineffective. Conventional medicine has made great advances in addressing acute diseases, but is limited in treating cancer and chronic illness. Alternative medicine has many anecdotal claims, but often lacks evidence. More research is needed to increase proven options for CAM to complement conventional medicine. More reasons for funding b
CAM research is disproportionately under-funded. Only 1% of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding went to CAM research, yet 40% of US Americans use some form of CAM each year according to NIH NCCIH.
If you are already a CAM user, then why support the scientific research of it? There are three reasons that may strike a chord with you: (1) our mainstream medicine and insurance are not behind CAM without scientific evidence; that means most likely there is no support for you from the mainstream healthcare economics standpoint; (2) CAM users generally consider CAM side effects to be low risk. However, this does not mean there is no risk. Risks come especially when one forgoes effective conventional medicine in favor of a CAM therapy without evidence; (3) when one's loved ones are faced with life and death situations, there is no time to waste with trial and error.
If you have experienced cancer or chronic illness in the family where conventional medicine has not been effective, then you know there is a desperate need for more hope. CAM anecdotes abound, but patients need more proven medical options especially when there is no time to waste with trial and error.
If you are a baby boomer... First baby boomer reached 65 in 2011. You probably know that chronic and degenerative disease are the predominant health issues of the elderly and are increasing with an aging society. Clearly there is a need for more proven ways to deal with these diseases Americans face today in the areas where conventional medicine has not been effective.
If you are already a CAM practitioner, you may also wonder why you should scientific research . Why should you care to engage more conventional physicians and evidence-based researchers? Because when there is sound science supporting your medical practice, there can be more financial support (via insurance or medical establishment), which means more referrals and a bigger funnel to your business.
If you are a conventional medical practitioner and/or user, you already appreciate the value of scientific evidence. Modern medicine has served us well especially in the treatment of many acute diseases. You may hold the view that just because the side effects of CAM are not well characterized does not mean there are no side effects. Therefore, CAM should be studied with the same research rigor as conventional medicine. You may also see the value of more holism and prevention with our conventional medicine which makes you think that perhaps there is value in funding more CAM research as long as it has good odds for success and it is prioritized along side of conventional medicine. However, CAM research is consistently under-prioritized compared to conventional research because CAM research is significantly under-funded and does not have the typical pharmaceutical backing. Thus, this calls for more deliberate focus on increasing the funds for the quality research of CAM.
Because 40% of the US Americans use CAM each year -most conventional doctors understand that they have the obligation to stay on top of CAM research and education although time and economics may be barriers.
Why should individual donors and the private sector fund university and hospital research when there is government funding such as the NIH?
In general, just talk to any CAM researcher and you will learn that CAM research funding is difficult to come by. Big pharmaceutical companies are not behind CAM because most of CAM cannot be patented. Also there is also a public funding imbalance with only 1% of NIH dollars going to CAM research. NIH NCCIH funding is very competitive and funds research projects that have significant amount of data behind them leaving bright young researchers behind needing bootstrap funding. There is a definite need for private donations to increase CAM research dollars to correct the funding imbalance. Consumers are leading the movement to embrace CAM usage. AlterMed is counting on charitable individuals, business, and foundations to help correct the research imbalance to advance CAM health research.
For research funding, why fund AlterMed Research Foundation instead of funding researchers and universities directly?
From the last 10 years of learnings, we know many prior CAM research studies did not meet the evidence-based research standard. Hence, there is an ongoing CAM research training emphasis with NIH NCCIH. Individual researchers favor their own research designs and results which may bring some inherent bias. Even though university/hospital researchers have their institutional review board providing independent research review, the expertise of the institutional review board and objectives are different from CAM research review to build upon CAM evidence. CAM is a unique field from conventional medicine and has its own experts. AlterMed provides CAM specific focus, direction (based on emerging evidence), coordination, and quality management. We provide independent review of CAM research projects we fund via CAM experts/advisory board/board members that also embrace the same research/evidence standard as mainstream medicine.
What is AlterMed's unique value add compared to other health research foundations?
First, AlterMed funds Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) research not conventional. So this sets us apart from the conventional research institutions. AlterMed also does not conduct clinical research directly, practice CAM, or sell CAM products, so there is no conflict of interest or any incentive to bias our funded research results. Our interest is to mainstream evidence-based CAM so conventional community can adopt proven CAM. We have no interest to support CAM researchers going off in their own separate direction without the mainstream also supporting that direction eventually.
Will funding raised by AlterMed for CAM research be used on animal research?
What motivated the founder, Ms. Kerri Diamant, to form AlterMed?
AlterMed Research Foundation was formed in May of 2006 and became a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in Oct, 2006. It was formed primarily for three reasons: (1) Ms. Diamant's life was saved by alternative medicine at a young age, so she believes CAM can help with health, (2) her cultural background in Taiwan contrasted with the U.S. made her appreciate the value of prevention and holism in health, and (3) her Mom's struggle with chemotherapy fighting recurrent colon cancer gave Ms. Diamant little hope and she longed for mainstream medical support to help her sort the wheat from the chaff on alternative medicine that had anecdotal claims.
What is Evidence-Based Medicine?
See glossary below.
What constitutes "Evidence-Based" Research valued by conventional medicine?
Why do smart people think differently about Complementary and Alternative Medicine?
Read the Atlantic article on the Triumph of New-Age Medicine.
Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM): EBM is the integration of current best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): Complementary Medicine is used in conjunction with conventional medicine where as alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine. There are 5 different types of CAM: (1) Natural Products (e.g. substances found in nature: herbs, foods, supplements, and vitamins), (2) Mind-Body Medicine (e.g. meditation, yoga, mental healing, prayer, therapies that utilize sound/music& dance, etc), (3) Manipulative and Body-Based Practices (e.g. chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation and massage), (4) Energy Therapies. (e.g. Biofield Therapies such as Qi Gong, Reiki, and Therapeutic Touch as well as Bioelectromagnetic-Based Therapies), and (5) Whole Medical Systems (e.g. Traditional Chinese Medicine ((TCM)), Ayurveda, Naturopathic Medicine, and Homeopathic Medicine), .
Integrative Medicine (IM): IM combines Conventional Medicine with evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Some believe the synergy is more than the sum of the two parts.