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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4904930. doi: 10.1155/2017/4904930. Epub 2017 Jul 13.

Whole Medical Systems versus the System of Conventional Biomedicine: A Critical, Narrative Review of Similarities, Differences, and Factors That Promote the Integration Process.

Baars EW1,2,3, Hamre HJ1,4,5.

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European Scientific Cooperative on Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ESCAMP), Zechenweg 6, 79111 Freiburg, Germany.
Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen, Netherlands.
University of Applied Sciences Leiden, Zernikedreef 11, 2333 CK Leiden, Netherlands.
Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology, Witten/Herdecke University, Zechenweg 6, 79111 Freiburg, Germany.
Witten/Herdecke University, Gerhard-Kienle-Weg 4, 58313 Herdecke, Germany.



There is an increasing need for a worldwide professional integration of conventional medicine and traditional/complementary whole medical systems (WMSs). However, the integration is perceived by conventional medicine as problematic or unacceptable, because of a supposed lack of evidence for specific effects of WMSs therapies and supposed prescientific or unscientific paradigms of WMSs.


To review the literature on the features of WMSs, similarities and differences between conventional medicine and WMSs, and scientific and clinical practice issues that should be dealt with in order to promote the integration process.


A critical, narrative review of the literature on six WMSs.


Key factors for the integration of WMSs and conventional medicine are as follows: legal frameworks, quality standards, high-quality research on safety and efficacy of WMS interventions, infrastructure, and financial resources. For scientific assessment of WMSs, there are unresolved ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues and issues of diagnostics, therapy delivery, and outcome assessment in clinical practice. Future research not only should be directed at quality assurance and generating the necessary data on safety and efficacy/effectiveness but also should address more fundamental (ontological, epistemological, and methodological) issues, in order to overcome the differences between WMSs and conventional medicine.

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