Researchers, clinicians, and the general public can now search a new database on complementary and alternative medicine treatments, some of which are popular with people with psychiatric disorders.
In February the National Library of Medicine and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine launched a Web site called Complementary and Alternative Medicine on PubMed.
The new database is a subset of PubMed, which is a free Internet site that allows people to search more than 11 million scientific and medical citations in the MEDLINE database.
CAM on PubMed contains roughly 220,000 references and abstracts related to herbal remedies and other unconventional medical therapies. It includes resources that have been published from 1996 on. As research on complementary and alternative medicine grows, the database will expand accordingly.
Americans are paying an estimated $21 billion a year for unconventional medical therapies, according to a 1997 study by David Eisenberg, M.D., director of the Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The new online library will make it easier for people to educate themselves about alternative medicine. "This is an important undertaking," said NCAM Director Stephen E. Straus, M.D., in a February 5 press release to announce the availability of the new database. "The opportunity to join forces with the world’s largest resource for biomedical literature represents a major step in mainstreaming CAM research information."
A sample search on "anxiety disorders," for example, retrieved 1,270 citations on studies investigating hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavioral stress management, and Asian herbal remedies.
A search on "bipolar disorder" produced almost 200 citations. Two sample citations from this search were "St. John’s wort: three cases of possible mania induction" in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and "Acupuncture treatment of manic psychosis" in the September 1996 issue of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The database of CAM on PubMed can be accessed on the Web at nccam.nih.gov. ▪
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