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Allopathic views on CAM

One of the effects of being in a likeminded community or in an academic or clinical setting is that we become insular. In these settings, we remain unaware of other communities' viewpoints or we assume what their viewpoints are. We can also KNOW a lot about a particular subject but do not have the experience of that subject. When I was a graduate student, I reviewed and edited several journal articles regarding the situation of homeless persons for the Social Science Department Chairperson at Pepperdine University prior to his submitting the articles for publication. A few years later, I worked as a fulltime volunteer at a men's homeless shelter in Philadelphia, PA for a year. This experience gave me a far greater understanding of the plight of the homeless than researching, writing, or editing articles about homelessness.

Through Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), we look at the human body and the means to heal the body in ways that allopathic medicine practitioners may find hard to comprehend. The American Botanical Council's mission is to educate the public on the medicinal use of herbs and botanicals and provide information about CAM. To accomplish this mission, we and CAM practitioners have often sought to express our message through scientific and clinical means. However, sometimes it is important to go beyond the walls of CAM and see how allopathic medicine views CAM usage. To accomplish this, some of the articles we have been choosing to use in the HerbClip Educational Service come from the allopathic medical community as they reflect on CAM usage among patients in their particular fields. Sometimes it is hard to ascertain how much the authors know about Complementary and Alternative Medicine or about the particular herbs, supplements, or botanicals on which they base their article. At other times, it is all too easy to identify their lack of knowledge or their biases against CAM. However, one goal that both CAM practitioners and allopathic medicine practitioners express time and time again is the need to educate the public and medical practitioners regarding CAM usage, the proper dosages and side effects of particular herbs, as well as herb-drug interactions.

To keep HerbClip readers abreast of allopathic practitioners' views of CAM usage, we have included three articles from various disciplines of allopathic medicine in this issue of HerbClip. HC 120243.277 examines herb usage among children prior to surgery, HC 110644.277 is based on an article about CAM use among children with cancer, and HC 120644.277 looks at anesthesiologists' concern regarding kava usage prior to surgery.

Lori Glenn, Coordinator