Editor’s note: Dr. Paul Offit is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of the book “Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.” He previously has taken on the anti-vaccine movement.
(CNN) — It used to be called “fringe” or “unconventional” medicine — or simply quackery. Today, it’s called “alternative,” “complementary,” “holistic” or “integrative.”
And it has moved into the mainstream. Hospitals now have dietary supplements on their formularies (list of stocked medications); offer reiki masters to cancer patients; or teach medical students how to manipulate healing energies.
Forty-two percent of hospitals offered some form of alternative therapies to their patients, according to a 2010 survey of 5,800 facilities. When asked why, almost all responded “patient demand.”
Further, private practitioners encourage megavitamins, dietary supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and naturopathy……