Funding of alternative treatments questioned

Thanks to a $374,000 taxpayer-funded grant, scientists now know that inhaling lemon and lavender scents doesn't do a lot for our ability to heal a wound. For $666,000 in federal research money, we can be certain that distant prayer cannot heal AIDS. Americans also paid $406,000 to learn that squirting brewed coffee into someone's intestines doesn't help treat pancreatic cancer and $1.25 million to discover that massage makes people with advanced cancer feel better.

These and other dubious investigations were funded by the government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCAM, a small, little-known branch of the National Institutes of Health, was launched a dozen years ago to study alternative treatments that are used by the public but are not accepted by mainstream medicine.

Since its birth, the center has spent $1.4 billion, most of it on research. Millions of those dollars have been used to fund studies with questionable grounding in science, according to a review of hundreds of NCCAM grants and other documents reviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

Source  - Los Angeles Times