Evidence for Complementary Medicines-What’s the truth?

08 September 2015

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There is much debate about the evidence for claims made about complementary medicines. International expert in complementary medicines, Dr Mary Hardy, will shed light on the debate in her plenary session at the ASMI Conference on 11 November 2015.

"In Australia and globally, the key question being posed for complementary medicines is 'what does the evidence say?'", said Dr Hardy. "A straight-forward enough question, but one that has many dimensions to it and generates various points of view and opinions, some valid, some questionable."

"The key is to look from a broad perspective. Often terms like 'true believer' or 'skeptics' are used when talking about complementary medicines and this does not help further our knowledge or progress on the subject.

"We need to first start with consumers and their use of complementary medicines, which is obviously widespread globally. Within this context, what is the best way forward when designing, conducting and evaluating the effectiveness of complementary medicines?  What do we need to think about to progress and move forward and not get stuck in old beliefs, perceptions or opinions?"

Dr Mary Hardy Bio

Dr Mary Hardy

Dr. Mary Hardy is recognised as an authority on integrative medicine and natural products by organisations such as the US Office of Dietary Supplements, the California Medical Board, the Canadian Government, the United States Pharmacopia, American Medical Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association.  

Dr. Hardy has actively combined complementary and alternative therapies with traditional Western medicine for over twenty-five years in both her clinical practice and research projects.

In 1998, Dr. Hardy founded the Integrative Medicine Clinic at Cedars-Sinai and participated in a NCCAM funded research project that evaluated the barriers and facilitators of Integrative Medicine practice.

She has extensive experience in evaluating the evidence base for the efficacy and safety of complementary medicine as part of her work as a research associate at the Evidence Based Practice Centre at RAND Corporation.

She has served on several United States Pharmacopia (USP) expert committees examining the safety of selected dietary supplements and is currently chairing a USP committee, Dietary Supplements Safety Modelling Expert Panel. She has also served on the External Advisory Council for the Natural Product Directorate for the Canadian Ministry of Health, and served as the Associate Director of the UCLA Botanical Research Centre, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).

Dr. Hardy, the recent past Medical Director of the Simms/Mann-UCLA Centre for Integrative Oncology, is a recognised leader in the field of Integrative Oncology. She continues to serve on a number of editorial and scientific advisory boards.

Dr. Hardy's current research interests include reviewing the evidence for the safety and efficacy of natural therapies, especially botanicals as well as conducting clinical trials of dietary supplements and lifestyle choices to support conventional cancer treatment.