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Alternative medicine is based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, antiscience, fraud, and poor scientific methodology.

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For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine before obtaining its current name.Therapies are often framed as "natural" or "holistic", in apparent opposition to conventional medicine which is "artificial" and "narrow in scope", statements which are intentionally misleading.This fact is often overlooked by media or intentionally kept hidden, with alternative practice being portrayed positively when compared to "big pharma".The lobby has successfully pushed for alternative therapies to be subject to far less regulation than conventional medicine.Almost none show any effect beyond that of false treatment, and most studies showing any effect have been statistical flukes.

Alternative medicine is a highly profitable industry, with a strong lobby.In General Guidelines for Methodologies on Research and Evaluation of Traditional Medicine, published in 2000 by the World Health Organization (WHO), complementary and alternative medicine were defined as a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country's own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.The expression also refers to a diverse range of related and unrelated products, practices, and theories ranging from biologically plausible practices and products and practices with some evidence, to practices and theories that are directly contradicted by basic science or clear evidence, and products that have been conclusively proven to be ineffective or even toxic and harmful."Biomedicine" or "medicine" is that part of medical science that applies principles of biology, physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice.Unlike medicine, an alternative product or practice does not originate from using scientific methods, but may instead be based on hearsay, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural energies, pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources.Alternative medicine is used by a significant number of people, though its popularity is often overstated.