Clinical Effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Systematic Review

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Thananan Rattanachotphanit
Bundit Udomphot
Parinya Mitarangkul
Kitiyawadee Doukprom
Sumon Sakolchai
Chulaporn Limwattananon


This study aimed to conduct a systematic review of the published literatures on the clinical effectiveness
of complementary and alternative medicine including acupuncture, aromatherapy, ayurveda, chiropractic,
electromagnetic field, homeopathic, massage therapy, naturopathy, osteopathy, qi gong, reiki, and therapeutic touch. Searches were conducted in Pubmed, Science-Direct and Google for systematic reviews, meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials published from January 1990 to September 2009. Thirty eight literatures were included after screening for inclusion and exclusion criteria. Nine systematic reviews showed the clinical effectiveness of five complementary and alternative medicine. Acupuncture treatment provided clinical effectiveness in patients with migraine, chronic knee pain, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and assisted reproductive treatment. Massage helped in promoting mother-infant interaction, sleep, reduced crying, and relaxation in infants under the age of six months. Naturopathic care provided improvement for patients with chronic low back pain. Osteopathic manipulative treatment significantly reduced low back pain. Therapeutic touch was effective in decreasing pain and fatigue in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Available studies suggested that evidence in support of other complementary and alternative medicine was insufficient. An update for clinical effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine should be continually conducted in order to be used for making decision as treatment option for patients willing to undergo the treatment.


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