Integrative pain management — combining the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science — is a growing movement in the pain field today. Yet, it is controversial, with some claiming that “integrative” is just the latest buzzword for a collection of superstitions, myths, or pseudoscience that have gone by various names through the years. The epicenter of the integrative medicine debate, in the United States at least, is at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
NCCAM is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The Center sponsors and conducts research using scientific methods to study CAM, which is defined simply by NCCAM as a group of diverse medical and health care interventions, practices, products, or disciplines that are not generally considered as part of conventional medicine.
In a recent posting at the NCCAM Research Blog [here], agency Director, Josephine P. Briggs, MD, explores what “integrative” means and concedes that the term has various connotations. She observes that the legislation authorizing the Center in the late 1990s clearly emphasized integration, as follows: