In part five we found out why Dr Bengston isn’t satisfied with only discovering an alternative method for treatment of cancerous cells. In the final part of this article we will learn how the public and scientific community can help legitimize reputable forms of alternative health practices, so that children and adults can benefit in the future.
The Bengston cancer studies have provided us with a good case study of why it is important to take a formal approach to the documentation of medical research in the alternative medical field; it comes at an important crossroad in America’s health care reform, a time when we are attempting to reinvent our current health care system for a more effective and more affordable one.
Using an on-line collection platform such as Patients Like Me (a company started by three MIT students), data could be collected using real world, outcome-based patient data and data-sharing partnerships. These partnerships could be with doctors, pharmaceutical, medical device companies, research organizations, and non-profits. Patients Like Me’s Multiple sclerosis community has grown at an incredible rate; early in 2009 the group’s size was approximately 7,000, MS members with new members joining at a rate of approximately 700 a month. With the increasing success of collaborative platforms such as Patients Like Me, my guess is that a similar module incorporated into this platform focused on alternative medicine and treatment, would encourage the mainstream medical community to carefully follow and study some of these practices.
According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, that included a comprehensive survey of complementary and alternative use by Americans, more than 1.2 million adults had used an energy healing therapy, such as Reiki, in the previous year. The survey also found that approximately 161,000 children had used an energy healing therapy in the previous year. However, there has been little rigorous scientific research stated the NCCAM, “Overall, these therapies have impressive anecdotal evidence, but none has been proven scientifically to be effective.”
NCCAM’s yearly budget remains in the range of $121 million a year, and well over $1 billion has been spent since its inception in 1992. We are headed in the right direction, what we now need are more large scale scientific studies to discover legitimate alternative medical treatment remedies and procedures.
How else can we improve the current state of the alternative medical practice industry? Provide more formal alternative health education to our main stream medical professionals, and request that our political representatives on a state and federal level become more knowledgeable and responsive to alternative medical treatment options and research funding. There is also a need for the funding for large scale clinical studies, and social media can to spread the word globally about good alternative health care practices and studies .
Finally, the purpose of this article was not to promote or endorse Dr Bengston’s practice of alternative medical treatment, but to encourage his approach to formal data collection through small and large scale clinical trials.
The Bengston approach acts as a sort of bench mark for others in the alternative medical field to persevere and properly document their work. This approach will require the mindset of an entrepreneur, and the implementation of a incentive program that has the potential to create a more well rounded and productive scientific research community. It will also reduce health care costs down the road.