This afternoon I went to the website of NCCAM (the so-called National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) – I looked up their decription of a herb that I consider to have magical healing properties and found that the oil of lavender was considered to be ineffective for most healing purposes – I therefore sent them this email:
Your description of lavender essential oil is inadequate when you say: “There is little scientific evidence of lavender’s effectiveness for most health uses.”
I would like you to conduct the following experiment on yourself.
1. take a sharp knife and cut your finger – deeply enough so that there is serious blood flow.
2. pour undiluted lavender oil liberally over the cut. Repeat again after five minutes.
3. Leave for 30 minutes.
4. try to work out where the cut was and why it hasn’t become septic and why there is no pain.
5. Then keep a straight face as you tell me it is ‘ineffective’!
If your analysis of lavender essential oil is so clearly deficient in this one area, I have to ask whether it is deficient in other areas.
This organisation is so deficient in good sense that they think ‘aromatherapy’ is about sniffing oils for health purposes. That’s what happens when you put the responsibility for disseminating alternative therapy information into the hands of people who have an anti CAM agenda.
I received the following email from them:
Dear Mr. Chamberlain:
Thank you for your e-mail to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) about our information on lavender.
I believe you may be referring to our fact sheet, “Herbs at a Glance: Lavender” (accessible atnccam.nih.gov/health/lavender/ataglance.htm).
To develop our materials, we use study information from a wide range of science-based resources, which include peer-reviewed journals from PubMed, Federal Government Web sites, and subscription databases. Then our publications go through a review process, which includes a review by experts in the field. We list at the end of each publication the references that we used to develop it.
Thank you for your interest in NCCAM.
This is the problem of course. They listened to experts but did not use the evidence of their own eyes. This is why anecdotal evidence is important. This is the raw unmediated evidence of people who have direct experience – of course one cannot trust this evidence absolutely – just as you cannot trust the evidence of scientific research absolutely (certainly not if it comes to conclusions directly contrary to our own experience)
Jonathan Chamberlain is author of The Cancer Survivor’s Bible – www.fightingcancer.com
“This book tells me everything. Why didn’t my doctor tell me this?”