Critical campaigns against alternative medicines contradict the most advanced trends in global medical care.
Not long ago, a campaign unleashed in Spain against natural medicines. From the so-called "skeptical circles" and even from the Collegiate Medical Organization (WTO), reports and complaints made against professionals of recognized trajectory.
The attacked professionals - like Dr. Odile Fernández - have not hesitated to define the situation as a real "witch hunt." Dr. Fernández believes that ignorance and fear influence this smear campaign.
"The training in integrative medicine of health professionals is minimal - he explains -. Integrative medicine is the future and is currently part of the curriculum in select universities across Europe, Canada, and the United States. Schopenhauer said that all truth goes through three phases: In the first, it is ridiculed; in the second, it receives violent opposition; and in the third, it is accepted as obvious."
For Esther de la Paz, president of the Spanish Association of Integrative Physicians, the WTO report has lacked ethics and justice by mixing unconventional therapies with suspects of intrusion. De la Paz has defended medicine to evolve towards an integrated approach.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which represents the consensus of the main international medical organizations and guides public policies, approved a strategy for the years 2014 to 2023 in favor of the integration of traditional and complementary medicines in national systems of health.
WHO recommendations are clear:
"European citizens would like complementary medicines to be accessible through hospitals and care centers, and offered by both doctors and well-trained therapists," according to the CAMbrella report, commissioned and funded by the European Union.
Some countries have already collected WHO recommendations regarding integrative medicine.
Citizens must choose between public or private insurance that offers coverage for some complementary treatments. They can be administered by doctors or therapists ( Heilpraktiker ) who must pass official exams and be registered.
Acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy and naturopathy, are legally regulated.
In 2009, a referendum held, and more than 67% of the voters supported the introduction of a constitutional article that would guarantee the inclusion of complementary medicines in healthcare.
In the application of the Constitution, the inclusion in compulsory medical insurance of anthroposophical medicine, classical homeopathy, phytotherapy, and Chinese medicine was approved.
This country has stood up for the introduction of complementary therapies in the training of doctors and the investigation of their effectiveness with qualitative methods
That is, impersonal, statistical, double-blind, typical pharmacological medicine studies are not the gold standard for evaluating complex medical systems that are better valued with "real-world experiments," which are "significant, valuable and applicable. "
Swedish laws include dietitians and chiropractors among health professions. Acupuncture is paid by social security when it is administered by healthcare professionals to treat pain and nausea.
Danish doctors are allowed to deal with the means they consider useful and with social security funding, which also pays for chiropractic treatments.
On the other hand, there is an agency responsible for the voluntary registration of non-medical therapists who use complementary therapies. Hence, citizens have a guarantee on their training and can claim in case of negligence.
Acupuncture, homeopathy, anthroposophic, chiropractic, or phytotherapy treatments are totally or partially financed by social security provided they are prescribed by doctors of the national health system.
In 1991 the American government founded the Agency of Alternative Medicine, which in 1998 became the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicines, and which in 2014 changed its name again to become the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
The successive names illustrate an evolution: from the "alternative" to the "integration." The main objective of this government department is to finance research, training, and dissemination.
As for the medical care of the population, about 40% of hospitals offer some alternative therapy. On the other hand, half of the medical schools offer specific training, and more than 40 have research, training, or integrative care centers.
84% of Japanese doctors use Kampo (herbal) medicines, and many subsidized.
In China, alternative and conventional medicine are practiced in parallel at all levels of health services. Citizens can freely choose what type of treatment they want to receive.
95% of Spaniards know some natural therapy. The most recognized are yoga, acupuncture, taichi, chiro massage, and homeopathy. 24% have used natural treatments. The most used are yoga, acupuncture, chiro massage, foot reflexology, and taichí.
The average user of natural therapies is upper middle class, and 36 to 45 years old. Among women, it is more frequent to resort to alternative medicines. Patients rate satisfaction with natural therapies with 4.2 out of 5. They have a positive image of complementary medicines. They consider that they are beneficial on a physical and mental level.
In Spain, there are 9,000 doctors who usually prescribe homeopathy and 3,000 practice acupuncture. There are currently more than 80,000 professionals who pay taxes under the heading of naturopath, acupuncturist and other parasanitary techniques.
In Spain, there are no laws, national policies, plans, or official agencies related to unconventional medicines.
The homeopathic products are considered by Spanish legislation as medicines, prepared by the procedures of the European Pharmacopoeia and the Royal Spanish Pharmacopoeia, and only sold in pharmacies. Doctors may prescribe homeopathy, but the patient has to pay for it.
In 2011, the Ministry of Health, Social Policy, and Equality published a document with a view to a possible regulation that considered osteopathy and acupuncture useful for specific indications.
Doctors or therapists who offer complementary therapies must undergo sufficient training. If a therapy center has a responsible doctor, it can be classified as a health center.
Acupuncture is offered in some public hospitals to treat pain or Reiki (in this case, at the patient's request and administered by volunteers).