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Historical and professional perspectives of complementary and alternative medicine with a particular emphasis on rediscovering and embracing complementary and alternative medicine in contemporary Western society



Historical and professional perspectives of complementary and alternative medicine with a particular emphasis on rediscovering and embracing complementary and alternative medicine in contemporary Western society



Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 7(Suppl. 1): S11-S18



Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States, established its medical school in 1782. Harvard Medical School led the way in reform of medical education and in medical research. Since the school's earliest days, Harvard physicians and scientists have demonstrated that treatments are often found beyond the boundaries of prevailing medical practice. In 1802, Professor Benjamin Waterhouse, having learned of Edward Jenner's pioneering work, introduced the smallpox vaccine to America. Later in the nineteenth century, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes promoted new standards of sanitary practice, despite the skepticism of many fellow physicians. In 1847, Dr. John Collins Warren first publicly demonstrated the use of clinical anesthesia with ether. This tradition of inquiry and innovation has continued into the present century, as attested by the 15 Nobel prizes awarded to Harvard Medical School scientists. It is in this spirit of open-minded inquiry and rigorous scientific standards that Harvard Medical School now looks into complementary and alternative medicine. The popularity of complementary and alternative treatments has grown enormously in recent years. Physicians must understand what therapies our patients are using and how these therapies work. We must ask if these therapies interact with medicines we prescribe. We must recognize that medical care is both science, and a connection between patient and healer. And we must be open to the likelihood that, as in the past, some therapies that are now considered alternative will be standard practice in the future.

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Accession: 046260922

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 11822624

DOI: 10.1089/107555301753393751


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