Nuggets of Wisdom

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

$1.4 Billion Wasted Studying “Alternative” Medicine

Does anyone seriously believe that coffee enemas can cure cancer? That prayer can cure AIDS? That aromatherapy can cure anything? Anyone with half a brain cell realizes that such bogus treatments won’t work. (And they don’t have to spend a penny to learn that!)

So why has our federal government wasted over $1.4 billion researching such quackery?
Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, we now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn't do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. With $666,000 in federal research money, scientists examined whether distant prayer could heal AIDS. It could not.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also helped pay scientists to study whether squirting brewed coffee into someone's intestines can help treat pancreatic cancer (a $406,000 grant) and whether massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better ($1.25 million). The coffee enemas did not help. The massage did.

NCCAM also has invested in studies of various forms of energy healing, including one based on the ideas of a self-described "healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman" who says her children inspired her to learn to read auras. The cost for that was $104,000.

A small, little-known branch of the National Institutes of Health, NCCAM was launched a dozen years ago to study alternative treatments used by the public but not accepted by mainstream medicine. Since its birth, the center has spent $1.4 billion, most of it on research.

A Tribune examination of hundreds of NCCAM grants, dozens of scientific papers, 12 years of NCCAM documents and advisory council meeting minutes found that the center has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on studies with questionable grounding in science....

"Some of these treatments were just distinctly made up out of people's imaginations," said Dr. Wallace Sampson, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University. "We don't take public money and invest it in projects that are just made up out of people's imaginations."
Say what you want about the trillions of taxpayer money wasted on defense spending, oil and farm subsidies, and even the secret funds funneled through the Federal Reserve: at least it’s all going to something practical. The $1.4 billion wasted studying clearly bunk pseudoscience isn’t! You might as well set that money on fire. At least people can benefit from the heat. You can’t say the same thing about coffee enemas!