The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) was established in 1991, with the appropriation of $2 million for an office "to more adequately explore unconventional medical practices." The Senate Appropriations Committee report acknowledged that "many routine and effective medical procedures now considered commonplace were once considered unconventional and counterindicated. Cancer radiation therapy is such a procedure that is now commonplace but once was considered to be quackery."
One of the first goals of the OAM was to develop a baseline of information on the state of alternative medicine in the United States. To accomplish this, a series of workshops were held in 1992. The first, a public meeting on June 17-18 in Bethesda, Maryland, included presentations from more than 80 speakers who detailed issues and concerns of importance to the alternative medicine community. On September 14-16, a second workshop was convened in Chantilly, Virginia, with a total of more than 200 participants who discussed the state of the art of the major areas of alternative medicine and to direct attention to priority areas for potential future research activities. Cochairs of the workshop working groups organized writing teams to collect and synthesize the available research in their respective fields and to develop recommendations to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This document represents the report of these meetings to the NIH, and includes the input of more than 200 practitioners and researchers of alternative medicine from throughout the United States. The hard work of the speakers, panel members, authors of working papers, and editors in putting this report together is gratefully acknowledged.
As the Office of Alternative Medicine proceeds to carry out its congressional mandate, the recommendations for future research in the report will be carefully considered. However, it should be pointed out that this document does not reflect endorsement of these therapies or recommendations for research by the NIH, the U.S. Public Health Service, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It reports on a series of opinions expressed by nongovernment participants in the workshops described above and is published for the purpose of furthering the dialogue between the alternative complementary medicine communities and the biomedical research establishment.
The NIH cautions readers not to seek the therapies described in this document for serious health problems without consultation with a licensed physician. The NIH further cautions that many of the therapies described have not been subjected to rigorous scientific investigation to prove safety or efficacy; and many have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.