Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

CAM Laboratory Tests Fail Two Important Criteria

By Bruce Campbell

A study of 11 common laboratory tests ordered by complementary medicine practitioners finds that they lack clinical validity and utility.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Alternative practitioners often claim that their treatments have been verified and are as reliable as conventionally evaluated medical procedures, but how good are the claims? As with much else in health, it pays to look behind the assertions that complementary and alternative treatments pass the scientific test expected of medicine in Australia.

Alternative practitioners such as naturopaths often use laboratory testing as part of their practice. These may be blood tests using venepuncture samples or dried blood spots, or they may use samples of urine, saliva and, for genetic tests, mouth swabs or hair roots.

Two British colleagues and I have recently reviewed the evidence for 11 commonly used non-genetic tests: live blood cell analysis, eukocytotoxic tests, food intolerance using IgG antibody testing, hair analysis for trace elements and minerals, antioxidant status, urine kryptopyrrole, mitochondrial function tests using neutrophil ATP profiling, Candida testing, post-chelator challenge heavy metal testing, secretory IgA, and adrenal stress profile.

We found that testing methodologies range from the crude, such as live blood cell analysis by microscopy, to the highly sophisticated, including hair trace element analysis by inductively-coupled mass spectrometry. We also examined regulation of this type of testing in the UK, US and Australia.


The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.