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The hard thing about all of this is that, as you pointed out, studies are hard to do. Even if they were funded to the same level as pharmaceuticals, it would be much harder to make conclusive findings. But in the absence of huge companies with profit motives or government bodies with political motives, there's not much funding around for thorough studies.

But some examples of where practices from TCM and CAM are achieving recognition are:

- The Nobel Prize awarded to Tu Youyou for finding artemisinin effective for treating malaria [1]

- A recent NIH review finding acupuncture, yoga and other non-drug therapies effective for common pain conditions [2]

- A study of a chiropractic technique to reduce the physiological effects of emotional stress/trauma [3]

But aside from these studies, surely the market is at least somewhat of an indicator of some level of benefit. Economists generally regard consumers of being capable of making rational decisions about how to spend their money in ways that most benefit them.

Of course it's not a water-tight rule, but nor is it completely false. Yet many people dismiss the entire CAM industry as being fuelled by nothing but stupidity, and dismiss the possibility that at least some of the industry's customers are capable of making rational spending decisions when it comes to their health.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_Youyou

[2] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-review-fin...

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28181091

Keeping in mind that some antibiotics were found originally in soil. So there's a good chance many random collections of stuff have produced useful medicine. The claim should be stronger than "it's not entirely valueless". How about: on average is it better or worse than modern medicine? Modern medicine is probably better then soil, on average. That's testable. And I'd wager it's better than any alternative effort. Even all of them put together.

All the meridians and whatnot don't lend more credibility over...soil, say. Until they're tested properly. After which Nobel prizes can be won.

> "on average is it better or worse than modern medicine?"

The vast majority of people using/practicing "CAM" are not claiming "CAM" to be "better" than modern medicine; they take a horses-for-courses approach.

Modern medicine is fine for acute illness where you need a medication or surgery to address an infection, break, blockage, etc.

"CAM" seems to be valuable for chronic non-life-threatening conditions like fatigue, pain, mild hormonal issues, mild auto-immunity, etc. It's also chosen by people who are quite healthy and want to keep it that way by optimising their nutrition, emotions, muscular-skeletal strength/alignment, etc.

So it's not a matter of what is better or worse than the other, it's a question of finding the right tool for the job. Every conventional doctor I've consulted in the past few years has endorsed that approach.

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