Two years ago, I published a blog about the research activity in SCAM. To demonstrate the volume of SCAM research I looked into Medline to find the number of papers published in 2020 for the SCAMs listed below. Now I repeated the exercise for the year 2022. The respective 1st numbers below are those of 2020, and the second ones refer to 2022 (in bold):

  • acupuncture 2 752 – 3,565               
  • anthroposophic medicine 29 – 28
  • aromatherapy 173 – 205
  • Ayurvedic medicine 183 – 249
  • chiropractic 426 – 498
  • dietary supplement 5 739 – 8,915
  • essential oil 2 439 – 3,340
  • herbal medicine 5 081 – 16,207
  • homeopathy 154 – 212
  • iridology 0 – 0
  • Kampo medicine 132 – 176
  • massage 824 – 996
  • meditation 780 – 1,016
  • mind-body therapies 968 – 1,616
  • music therapy 539 – 716
  • naturopathy 68 – 92
  • osteopathic manipulation 71 – 85
  • Pilates 97 – 152
  • qigong 97 – 121
  • reiki 133 – 158
  • tai chi 397 – 470
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine 15 277 – 22,586
  • yoga 698 – 837 

These data suggest the following:

  1. As before, the research activity in SCAM seems relatively low.
  2. Most numbers are pretty stable with a slight overall increase.
  3. The meager numbers for anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, iridology, Kampo, and naturopathy are remarkable.
  4. In absolute terms, only acupuncture, dietary supplements, essential oil, herbal medicine, and TCM are impressive; by and large, these are areas where commercial interest and sponsors exist.
  5. The ‘big winners’ in terms of increase over time are acupuncture, supplements, essential oil, herbal medicine, and TCM; I suspect that much of this is due to the fast-growing (and repeatedly mentioned) influence that China is gaining in SCAM.

5 Responses to Research activity in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), 2020-2022

  • Maybe the lack of activity around anthroposophic medicine is partly because it employs so many of the other practices. Most of what it adds seems to be just another layer of crackpot theory – it’s hard to see anyone wasting too much research time on the karmic influences underlying illness or why the heart is not a pump.

    As for homeopathy, maybe researchers are finally realising it’s a dead end. Doesn’t seem to be affecting sales too badly though.

    • “As for homeopathy, maybe researchers are finally realising it’s a dead end. Doesn’t seem to be affecting sales too badly though.” I doubt it: they had 200 years and will not come round in a hurry. What I see is that Idian researchers are finally engaging in more clinical trials.

      • I didn’t mean homeopaths were realising it was a dead end, just that maybe researchers were losing interest. After all if homeopaths can still keep citing old studies as if they were positive when they clearly weren’t why bother?

        As for the anthroposophists – they make the homeopaths seem almost rational. ( I did say almost ).

  • Do you think that research activity closely mirrors actual choice of therapy ?

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