THE FIRST FORMAL meeting of the newly designated Advisory Council to the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md, was acrimonious almost to the point of failure. That the meeting concluded on a more or less positive note was due only to the fact that some council members apologized for untimely remarks and to the skillful diplomacy of Ruth Kirchstein, MD, the NIH's deputy director.
Among the alternative medical approaches the OAM may study are homeopathy, nutritional therapies, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and interactive mind-body and meditation techniques, along with such specific treatments as, for example, the use of shark cartilage for cancer therapy (JAMA. 1993;270: 1400).
Out of Their Hands
The principal thorn in the advisory committee members' side was the fact that the OAM was preparing to announce the funding of several study centers without asking, as is customary, for the committee's