Personalized Medicine and Complementary Alternative Medicine: In Search of Common Grounds

As complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) continues to assume influence in medical care delivery, biomedical orthodoxy has contemporaneously experienced landmark techno-scientific advances, tempting analysts to question the relevance of CAM to 21st century medical provision. This article focuses on one representation of contemporary advances in biomedicine, namely, the phenomenon of personalized medicine (PM) and the techno-scientific contexts for its evolution. It examines whether biomedicine’s embrace of the PM concept widens the conceptual and philosophical gulf between it and CAM.

Design: Focusing on genomics and its translation into PM, the article finds that presently, the gene-environment dynamic is an important aspect of genomics and PM. However, there is a lopsided emphasis in the gene-environment matrix that focuses on toxicogenomics (i.e., the effect of toxins and chemicals, including drugs on genes and genetic materials). This approach to genomics ignores the role of other environmental stressors, which constitute components of an individual’s health experience critical to PM.

Conclusions: If this lopsided approach is addressed, in a counter-intuitive way, PM has potential for engendering a confluence between biomedicine and CAM as a part of the paradox of the 21st century medical landscape.

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Oguamanam, Chidi, “Personalized Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: In Search of Common Grounds” (2009) 15:8 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 949.

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