Once labeling complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as quackery or fraud, the biomedical community is becoming increasingly complex as it struggles to cope with the explosion of alternative treatments seen in the United States. With the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine along with an increase in departments or courses on alternative medicine seen in major American medical schools, CAM has nudged its way into mainstream medicine.
Now that it has gained a foothold in the biomedical community, several questions arise about its impact on our culture. This issue of the ANNALS sheds light on the political-economic role as well as socio-cultural influences of CAM over the past 20 years. This collection of articles also addressees the global and cross-cultural dimensions of CAM.
With ever-changing messages in the media about CAM and biomedicine, the task of evaluating it is daunting. Yet the contributors to this issue - social scientists devote to researching the effects of Cam on our society - are able to provide insight and a thorough commentary on the meanings of health, illness and modes of healing.