Boiling “integrative medicine” down to its essence in 34 words

Yesterday was a rough day for me; so I’ll be uncharacteristically brief today.

As I’ve pointed out time and time again, these days, advocates of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) don’t like it so much anymore when their preferred quackery is referred to as “CAM.” Now the preferred term has–shall we say?–evolved to a happy term designed to paint their woo as being co-equal with real medicine: “integrative medicine” in a way that the term “CAM” does not. After all, CAM is “complementary,” which implies that it’s subsidiary, the icing on the cake so to speak, and it’s “alternative,” which implies (correctly, I might add) that it’s not real medicine. What was once rightly considered quackery has “evolved” to become first “complementary” and now “integrative,” the latter of which implies that co-equal modalities are being “integrated.” This evolution has occurred in less than 30 years, so now we even have a branch of the National Institutes of Health, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) promoting magic, not to mention very wealthy foundations promoting the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine to produce quackademic medicine.

I’ve been pointing out time and time again that “integrative” medicine is largely nothing more than “integrating” quackery and magic with scientific medicine, at least when integrative medicine is not concerned with co-opting areas of scientific medicine, such as nutrition, exercise, and the like, as being somehow “alternative” to be “integrated.” Leave it to my good bud Mark Crislip to come up with the perfect analogy for this “best of both worlds” propaganda:

If you integrate fantasy with reality, you do not instantiate reality. If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse.

And if you integrate quackery with real medicine, you do not produce better medicine. Instead, you turn quackery into medicine and medicine into quackery, which is exactly what’s happening in medicine right now. Much of integrative medicine represents a return to the past, and not in a good way. Rather, it’s a return to the past where the four humors qi determined health and disease, miasmas unspecified and unknowable “toxins” were responsible for many diseases, and praying to God (or the gods) for healing energy healing and reiki was the order of the day. That’s what we’re “integrating” into scientific medicine.

Remember Mark Crislip’s pithy 34-word maxim any time you hear someone like Dr. Oz or his many lesser minions use the term “integrative” medicine. It might even be worth memorizing to throw back in their faces.