Friday, September 28, 2012

CAM Not Ready for Prime Time

Although complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is considered outside the usual canon of western medical practice, it is often desired by patients for any number of somatic or psychiatric complaints, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CAM techniques for PTSD include meditation, acupuncture, and relaxation. However, the evidence base for such approaches is slim, according to an article in the fall PTSD Research Quarterly. A systematic review found just seven randomized controlled trials, and they were small and poorly designed.

“[T]he most basic question ‘Can it work?’ for PTSD has not yet been answered,” wrote Jennifer Strauss, Ph.D., of Duke University and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C.; and Ariel Lang, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California, San Diego.

These approaches “merit consideration” but require more research before they can be used as alternatives to current, validated treatments for PTSD, concluded the authors. However, they added, “[CAM] may be best applied as an adjunct to other PTSD treatments or as a gateway."

For more in Psychiatric News about CAM treatments in psychiatry, click here. See also the American Journal of Psychiatry here.