In late November, to mark the European Union’s 2014 “Antibiotics Awareness Day,” EUROCAM published a draft position paper entitled: “The role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in reducing the problem of antimicrobial resistance.” This policy document calls out “the potential of CAM in reducing the problem of AMR [antimicrobial resistance] to be given serious consideration and for further research to be carried out in this area to determine in which conditions, both in human and veterinary healthcare, specific CAM modalities are particularly effective.”
The 33-page paper by this umbrella group introduces policy makers to the historic dialogue about the important role of the host in development of infections of all kinds. The paper’s first segment then speaks to how integrative strategies can build resilience in people so they will have less need for antibiotics of any kind. It then touches such topics as the positive interactions between herbs and antibiotics, and the potential use of homeopathic medicines. The authors cite evidence that the incidence of AMR is lower in an anthroposophical hospital using more integrative therapies than it is in regular settings. The authors also note the importance of integrative practices in veterinary medicine to diminish over use of antibiotics in farming. They conclude: “Complementary and Alternative Medicine can support the EU strategy to conserve and steward the effectiveness of existing antimicrobial treatments and offer an avenue for the development of novel future therapies.
Comment: This is a terrific example of the kind of white papers the integrative health and medicine communities need on a wide array of topics. The EUROCAM strategy of linking the publication to a mainstream event — in this case the annual Antibiotics Awareness Day — is also noteworthy. The authors are correct to assert that the severity of the problem means than no stone should be unturned in exploring options. They clearly urge even those with a prejudice against natural remedies to explore the potential of herbs and homeopathic medicines. If fail, despite suggestive evidence, to make what is after all a relatively limited research investment, policy-makers risk a categorization that is parallel to the Cold War’s term of rebuke: “Better dead than red.” Too many decision-makers would seem to think that they are better dead than CAM. Here’s hoping the EUROCAM policy paper opens eyes, minds, and doors.