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The Case for Science-Based Decisions About Health

June 18, 2013
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
Josephine Briggs, M.D.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

View Dr. Briggs' biographical sketch

Today, Liz Szabo of USA Today offers a thoughtful look into the field of complementary and alternative health. Szabo cites cautionary tales of unfounded health claims and aggressive marketing come-ons that can be common.  Yet, she makes room for another critical point—a number of complementary health practices hold a great deal of promise in addressing the conditions and symptoms that matter most to people—such as chronic pain. This is where the imperative behind NCCAM’s work is illustrated.  Our efforts to facilitate research are rooted in promoting a better understanding of the safety and efficacy of complementary health approaches. 

At NCCAM, we’re committed to conducting well-prioritized research into approaches that have the most potential to help people maintain and improve their health and wellness, as well as uncover any safety concerns.  It’s only with this research in hand that both patients and health professionals are equipped to make well-informed health care decisions.

As researchers, do you feel your research results help consumers and health professionals make decisions?


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I was thrilled to read that NCCAM has done studies on a variety of diseases and has proven that Qigong heals. I have Neurofibromatosis Type 2 and am healing with Qigong. I studied three months with a Qigong teacher from Montrial, Canada and am now studying with a Qigong healer from Chicago. I’m very happy to report that I shrank a brain meningioma and this was verifited by an MRI. My hearing has also been slowly, but steadily improving.  I’m working to prove that Qigong has the ability to heal the genetic disease NF2. My blessings to to all doctors in NCCAM. Keep up the work of letting the world know that alternative energy healing is a truth.

There is one other goal you should have: Eliminating, restricting or at least advertizing against compounds that have been shown to be ineffective and claims that are unproven. Massive amounts of advertising and large amounts of pharmacy shelves contain compounds that have been shown to be ineffective making it difficult for both consumers and health professionals to make informed medical decisions.

@Harry M. Hersh: Thanks for your comment. We agree that people need more information to make informed decisions about whether to use these products. We post alerts and safety recalls from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and press releases about deceptive advertising from the Federal Trade Commision at We also have resources to help with being an informed consumer at

@carolmalaysia: Thanks for your interest in our Center. While we study complementary health approaches in groups of people (clinical trials) rather than an individual's experiences, we are happy to hear about the improvement in your health condition. You may have an interest in viewing research results and videos of qi gong on our “Qi Gong Information” Web page at

#carolmalaysia I was pleased to hear of your progress when I came upon this aritcle. My focus on alternative energy is usually around creating energy independence for more people of the world, especially in the United States. But to know that others think of alternative energy as something that applies to health, etc. was eye opening to me and something I will keep in mind for the future.  May you continue to see improvement as you use Qigong (or Qi Gong).

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