New Zealand Centre for Evidence-based Research into Complementary and Alternative Medicine


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The New Zealand Centre for Evidence-based Research into Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ENZCAM) is based within the School of Health Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Centre was established in 2005 with the aim to research the efficacy and safety of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), with a particular focus on CAM in the New Zealand setting. The centre acts as a focal point to develop novel research ideas in the field of CAM and foster partnerships with researchers both within New Zealand and overseas.

The need for such a Centre in New Zealand was one of the key recommendations made by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (MACCAH) in their advice to the New Zealand Minister of Health in June 2004.

What is CAM?

CAM is a group of health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine. What is considered to be CAM changes continually, as those therapies that are proven to be safe and effective become adopted into conventional health care and as new approaches to health care emerge. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Examples of CAM include acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homoeopathy, and osteopathy.

Contact ENZCAM

We would welcome any feedback about this website that you may have. Feel free to contact us at the address below with your comments. Please be aware however, that we are unable to provide specific medical advice or referrals to health care practitioners.


ENZCAM staff have a multidisciplinary skill mix, including complementary and alternative medicine, psychology, epidemiology, public health, and information retrieval.


Professor Ray Kirk

Research Students

Sandra Clair (PhD candidate)

Cindy Allison (PhD student)

Dan Jakes (Masters student - thesis)

Jenna Nacagilevu (Masters student - dissertation)

Visiting Academics

Professor Ian Coulter

ENZCAM Projects

High quality research into CAM therapies and products in New Zealand is limited but is slowly increasing. One of the aims of ENZCAM is to facilitate collaborative research into CAM-related therapies and products in New Zealand.

Research at ENZCAM is currently based around four main themes:

  1. Women’s health
  2. Adverse reactions/side effects of CAM – including herb/drug interactions
  3. Mental & child health
  4. Appropriateness of care research

ENZCAM staff are skilled in the conduct of most types of epidemiological studies, specifically population surveys, observational studies, clinical trials, and systematic reviews. We are particularly interested in the fields of acupuncture, herbal medicine, Maori and Pacific Island medicine, nutrition, and chiropractic / osteopathy.

Please note that our area of interest is constantly growing as the Centre develops. If you have an interest in a CAM field outside of the areas listed above we may still be able to assist you. Please contact us at for further information.

Top Five (5) Starting Points for Evidence-Based CAM

  1. Starting points: NCCAM and Wikipedia
  2. More background: MEDLINEplus and Drugs - Supplements
  3. Clinical trials: CAM on Pubmed and NCCAM Trials Information
  4. Searching for free & Open vs. Locked CAM Resources.

In MEDLINE, use the MeSH term complementary therapies (or see specific therapies ). It is defined as "...therapeutic practices which are not currently considered an integral part of conventional allopathic medical practice. They may lack biomedical explanations but as they become better researched some therapies (ACUPUNCTUREHYDROTHERAPY) become widely accepted whereas others (humorsradium therapy) quietly fade away, yet are important historical footnotes".

See the many open access EBM-CAM research articles.

ENZCAM Services

ENZCAM provides a number of consultancy services in the field of complementary and alternative medicine.

There is a charge for some of the below services:

1. Design, conduct and analysis of epidemiological studies

ENZCAM staff have extensive experience in the design, conduct and analysis of epidemiological studies, in particular:

  • Systematic reviews (including Cochrane collaboration reviews).
  • Observational studies (e.g. case-control studies, cohort studies).
  • Experimental studies (e.g. laboratory-based research, clinical trials).

Staff also have experience with the preparation of grant applications for national and international funding agencies and ethics committee applications.

Particular services we offer include:

  • Considering the feasibility of undertaking an epidemiological study: If you would like us to assess the feasibility of conducting a study for you in a particular area, we are happy to work with you to develop an initial proposal.
  • Sample size calculation. We would be happy to assist with determining the appropriate sample size for your study, so that the results you obtain are valid.
  • Writing of suitable grant applications, including budget development
  • Writing ethics committee applications
  • Full design, conduct, and analysis of epidemiological studies in the CAM field

Please contact us at if you would like to discuss further potential research opportunities.

2. Literature searches

ENZCAM staff are able to assist with the preparation of material required by regulatory bodies. E.g literature searches for material relevant to making therapeutic claims about a CAM product. Please contact us at if you would like to discuss further any opportunities in this area.

3. General advice about CAM-related issues

ENZCAM staff are able to answer general questions related to CAM, such as:

  • What are the best search strategies for looking for information on medical databases?
  • Who do you contact about regulatory issues?
  • How do you seek approval for new products?
  • How do you go about identifying contestable grants for research or travel?

Please note: We do not provide medical advice or referrals to health care practitioners. If you are seeking medical advice we recommend contacting a registered health practitioner.

Safety Alerts

Information on safety alerts related to the use of complementary and alternative medicines can be obtained from a number of websites from around the world. Safety alerts are updated regularly.

Safety Alerts

1. Groups posting safety alerts

New Zealand


United States of America

2. Safety Alerts

The following safety alerts are listed in alphabetical order. These alerts have been posted in the last two years. Other alerts exist and can be identified by searching the websites of the organizations listed in section 1 above.

Androstenedione (Andro)

  • FDA Warning on Androstenedione (Andro) - 11 March 2004. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a crackdown on products containing androstenedione, commonly known as "andro." The products are marketed over the counter as dietary supplements that enhance athletic performance. While ads claim that andro-containing supplements promote increased muscle mass, research has not shown this to be the case. In addition, studies have shown side effects and potential long-term risks; androstenedione poses the same kinds of health risks as anabolic steroids.


  • MHRA Herbal Safety News - October 2004. Possible interaction between warfarin and cranberry juice (and cranberry juice extract tablets)

Ephedra (Ma huang)

  • A number of adverse reactions (including death) have been linked with ephedra. As a consequence of these reactions, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently prohibited the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids (ephedra) in the USA. 
    USA link: 19 April, 2004

Fenfluramine and nitrosofenfluramine - Shubaojianfeijiaolang /Qian Er/ Ma zin dol/ Chaso/Onshido

  • 28 April 2004: In the United Kingdom a case of irreversible liver failure has been linked to a product called 'Shubao - Slimming Capsules'. The patient required a liver transplant. 
    See MHRA Herbal Safety News


Homoeopathic meningococcal “vaccines”

  • The TGA in Australia recently release a statement regarding the inappropriate promotion of homoeopathic meningococcal “vaccines”. Homoeopathic immunization has not been proven to give protection against infectious diseases. See Australian Government Department of Health and Aging Therapeutic Goods Administration website


Nu Bao containing human placenta

  • May 2004: Nu Bao is a traditional Chinese medicine, which supposedly contains human placenta (Placenta hominis), deer antler (Corna cervi pantotrichum) and donkey skin (Colla cori astini). Inclusion of any animal derivatives or human tissue poses potential risk of infectious diseases due to the transmission of infective bacteria and viruses. Consumers should therefore not take this product. Anyone taking the product should discontinue its use and consult their doctor if they feel unwell.

3. General

  • October 2004: Recall of Platinum Plus capsules, Boyjoy tablets, Wei Ge Wang tablets, and Manup capsules: These herbal remedies contain undeclared prescription medicines (namely sildenafil and tadalafil – the active substances in Viagra and Cialis). These products are not approved for supply as medicines in New Zealand and pose a safety risk to users if taken without medical supervision.

  • Recall of dietary supplements manufactured by Pan Pharmaceuticals Ltd of Australia.
    July 2003: NZFSA
    May 2003: Medsafe

  • May 2003: Warning not to use Chinese Herbal product called Hua Fo ‘Vigor-Max': This herbal remedy contains undeclared prescription medicines (sildenafil or tadalafil – the active substances in Viagra and Cialis). This product poses a safety risk to users if taken without medical supervision.
  • January 2003: Product warning for certain Chinese Medicines: Eleven traditional Chinese medicines sold as herbal remedies have been withdrawn after investigation and testing revealed they contain prescription medicines and toxic substances.

  • June 2002: Herbal supplement warning for Arthrin, Osporo, Poena, Neutralis, Oa Plus, Ra Spes and Hepastat: Health Canada is warning Canadians not to use seven herbal products manufactured in the United States by BotanicLab because they contain undeclared prescription drugs that could cause serious health effects if not taken under medical supervision. It is not known whether these products have been imported into New Zealand.

Adverse reactions

1. What is an adverse reaction?

Most medicines (including complementary and alternative medicines) can cause side-effects (also know as adverse reactions). Just because a product or therapy is “natural” or “traditional” does not necessarily mean it does not cause side effects. Most side-effects are predictable, mild, and do not last for more than the first few days of treatment. However, unexpected reactions can occur and in rare instances, side-effects can be serious and even life-threatening.

2. Types of adverse reactions

Adverse reactions related to the use of complementary and alternative medicines are extremely diverse. For information on known adverse reactions see the “safety alerts” page of this website. Adverse reactions can occur for a variety of reasons:

  • Direct effect: Some complementary and alternative medicines directly cause side effects in certain people. For instance, direct side effects associated with acupuncture tend to be uncommon, mild and reversible, and can include sleepiness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, aggravation of symptoms, and bleeding, bruising and/or pain at the needle site. Other side effects may include infection and dermatitis. Although extremely rare, evidence of serious, potentially life threatening complications associated with acupuncture have been reported, and include punctured organs, serious infection (e.g. hepatitis), spinal cord injury, shortness of breath, and death.

  • Interactions: Some complementary and alternative medicines can interact with or interact with or increase the action of conventional medicines, leading to ineffectiveness and/or side effects. For example, many herbs interact with drugs taken to thin the blood, or those taken for heart disease and high blood pressure.

  • Inadequate training: Lack of competency in performing a particular procedure (rather than the risk of the actual procedure itself) can also lead to harm. Unfortunately certain CAM health professionals are not adequately regulated in New Zealand. Consequently there are some CAM health professionals that have a very high standard of training, while others do not.
    It is important that people be aware that some CAM practitioners may:
    • block access to effective conventional treatments
    • disregard contra-indications (ie. reasons why it may be undesirable for a person to recieve a particular CAM treatment)
    • fail to diagnose treatable health conditions
    • (over) or under use potentially harmful or unreliable diagnostic tests
    • interfere with prescribed conventional treatments

No therapy (conventional or CAM) is entirely risk free and so, “the potential risks of a given therapy must not be seen in isolation but have to be viewed relative to its potential benefit.”* This means that any possible risks from a CAM procedure or treatment for any individual person must be considered within the context of the potential advantages that the procedure or treatment may offer that person. This will vary from person to person. It is important that the person receiving such procedures or treatments be aware of the likely risks to them so that they can make an informed discussion about the procedure or treatment. Safety is as important to consider as efficacy.

If you are using any complementary or alternative therapies or products, it is important that both your usual general practitioner and any alternative health practitioners you see are fully informed of all medications you are taking. This includes the use of vitamins and mineral supplements.

3. What to do about adverse reactions in New Zealand

It is important that side-effects related to the use of specific products or therapies are reported, to see if there are any patterns developing. Side effect information is collated by the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring in Dunedin and contributes to an international database of adverse reactions maintained by the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.

Do you think you are experiencing a side effect related to the use of a complementary or alternative medicine?

See this website ( if you are experiencing any side effects that you think are related to the use of a complementary or alternative medicine. Information on this Medsafe website will tell you what to do.

Are you a health professional who wishes to make a notification about a side effect?
If you are a health professional who wishes to make a notification about a side effect in one of your patients that you think is related to the use of a complementary or alternative medicine please go to this website This Medsafe website will tell you the procedure for contacting the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring in Dunedin.

*Ernst, E. Investigating the safety of complementary medicine. In: Clinical Research in Complementary Therapies: Principals, problems and solutions. Edited by: Lewith G, Jonas, WB, Walach, H. Churchill Livingston, 2002.

ENZCAM Publications

One of the aims of ENZCAM is to maintain an up-to-date comprehensive reference list of all publications related to the use of CAM in New Zealand. The list we have provided below does not include articles that have been printed in magazines or on websites. We have made every effort to locate all relevant articles. However, if we have missed any please contact us with relevant details, and we will consider them for placement on this page.

If you wish to obtain a copy of any of the articles we suggest you contact your local public library. In many cases this will result in an "interlibrary loan request" being placed on your behalf. Please note that this service is not always free. Charges may vary depending on the fees imposed by the library supplying the article. If you don’t have access to a public library or prefer to contact us, we can supply articles on a fee for service basis.

To look up the summary of an article listed below, print off these instructions (PDF document, size 112 kilobytes) and follow them step by step. The PubMed database has a summary of many (but not all) of the references shown below.

Journals, Books, Conferences and Courses

This is by no means an exhaustive list. These journals, books, conferences and courses are those covered in previous editions of the ENZCAM monthly newsletters.


Journals listed alphabetically.

Useful Books

Books featured in previous editions of the ENZCAM newsletter. This is not an exhaustive list.

Books on CAM and Integrative Healthcare

Books on CAM and Integrative Healthcare Research and Methodology


See also list of CAM conferences


  • Bastyr University: Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (MD). Named by The Princeton Review as one of the 168 best medical schools in the country, the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University is committed to developing leaders in the evolving field of natural medicine. Bastyr's fully accredited naturopathic doctor (ND) program is internationally renowned for its rigorous curriculum, comprehensive clinical training and ground-breaking research. 
    Other courses Bastyr offers a range of graduate and undergraduate programs including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, midwifery, nutrition, health psychology, exercise science and herbal sciences.
  • Institute for Complementary Medicine (ICM) For information on CAM courses in the United Kingdom search this site.
  • Allen and Unwin list of Courses in CAM

New Zealand Links

Below are links to a number of national websites on complementary, alternative and integrative medicine, related to research and education in this field.

Please note that we do not link to any companies that specifically market Complementary and Alternative Medicine products or therapies. To locate such companies we recommend searching the New Zealand yellow pages.

Ministry of Health and MACCAH

  • Complementary and Alternative Health 
    The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health (MACCAH) was established in July 2001 under Section 11 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 to provide independent advice to the Minister of Health on matters related to complementary and alternative medicine in New Zealand. MACCAH operated until June 2004.

MACCAH website and Final Report

Natural Health Products Regulation

  • Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency (ANZTPA)
     “The Australian and New Zealand Governments have agreed to proceed with a joint scheme for regulation of therapeutic goods (including medicines and medical devices). The creation of a joint regulatory scheme across both countries will safeguard public health and safety, while encouraging economic integration and benefitting industry in both countries.” 
    Over time, the joint arrangements will be administered by a single regulatory agency, the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency, which will absorb the current regulators - Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration and New Zealand's Medsafe.  
    Progress as at January 2012 
    Complementary Medicines (Historical information superseded by the Natural health Products legislative process in New Zealand).
  • New Zealand's Medsafe 
    General Principles of Trans-Tasman Scheduling Harmonisation 
    Compliance with the Medicines Act 1981. Guidance for Natural Health Practitioners 
    Complementary Medicine Corner: Reporting adverse reactions
  • Natural Health Products Bill 
    “Earlier work has aimed to establish a joint therapeutic products regulator with Australia, which would have included complementary medicines (natural health products). .. [The] New Zealand Government has proposed to Australia that officials negotiate the establishment of a joint regulator with an exclusion for natural health products in the New Zealand market .... There are elements of the preferred option for New Zealand’s regulatory scheme for natural health products that we know are inconsistent with Australia’s preferences.” 
    Natural Health Products Bill in New Zealand Parliament Including evidence submitted and parliamentary debates.

New Zealand organizations that investigate bioactives

  • Bioactivities Investigation Group (BIG), Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago
    The Bioactivity Investigation group has been created to assist researchers, pharmaceutical companies, the natural products industry and others to both uncover and maximise the potential of their products through in depth investigation and evaluation of their products.
  • Plant and Food Research
    “Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products. [The goal is] to underpin the growth of plant and marine-based industry through the successful application and commercialisation of research-based innovation. Our science supports the sustainable production of high quality produce that earns a premium in international markets, as well as driving the design and development of new and novel functional foods that offer benefits to human health and wellbeing.”

Evidence-Based Research

  • New Zealand Guidelines Group
    A group that aims to share information and knowledge about effective practice initiatives via the development and dissemination of guidelines related to health and disability services. “The New Zealand Guidelines Group is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of evidence in the delivery of health and disability services. We have been providing evidence-based services to the New Zealand health sector since 1999.”  “We create evidence-based guidance. We use that guidance to create useable tools and implementation approaches. We also promote the use of evidence in clinical and personal practice.” “Our work is supported by the Ministry of Health, ACC, District Health Boards, the Health Quality and Safety Commission, PHARMAC, the National Health Board, the National Health Committee and the Cochrane Collaboration, as well as a wide range of professional colleges and non-government organisations. We are a founding member of the Guidelines International Network.”
  • National Institute for Health Innovation, University of Auckland. 
    Previously the Clinical Trials Research Unit.
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) 
    ESR "provide operational science and research services which underpin New Zealand's health, justice and biosecurity systems. Our mission is to protect people and their environment through science - Manaaki tangata taiao hoki." In health, the areas in which research is provided are: Food Safety; Water Management; Communicable Disease; Population and Environmental Health; and Public Health Surveillance. 

Self-regulating professional CAM bodies in New Zealand

Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003) 
“The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act) provides a framework for the regulation of health practitioners in order to protect the public where there is a risk of harm from professional practice.” 
“The Act was passed by Parliament on 11 September 2003 and received the Royal assent on 18 September 2003. The Act came fully into force on 18 September 2004. In doing so, the Act repealed 11 occupational statutes governing 13 professions.”
“Not all health professions are regulated under the Act. Not being regulated under the Act does not imply that a profession lacks professional standards. Some are not regulated because they pose little risk of harm to the public; some are not regulated because they work under the supervision of a regulated profession; some are regulated in other ways. For example, they may be regulated through their employer or self-regulated by their profession.”

Updates to Act 
Registering a New Profession



  • The Osteopathic Council of New Zealand 
    The Osteopathic Council of New Zealand is the regulatory authority established by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003). “The title of Osteopath is protected by the Act, so that only Osteopaths that are registered with the Osteopathic Council may use the title of Osteopath and only Osteopaths that hold current practising certificate may lawfully practice osteopathy in New Zealand.”

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Herbal medicine

  • New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists (NZAMH)
    “The New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists is the professional body representing appropriately trained practitioners of herbal medicine in New Zealand.”
  • New Zealand Council of Homeopaths (NZCH) 
    “Formed in January 1999, the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths represents more than 200 qualified, experienced and professional homeopaths throughout New Zealand. It is an amalgamation of three former registers: the registers of the New Zealand Homoeopathic Society, the New Zealand Institute of Classical Homeopathy and the New Zealand Accreditation Board of Natural Therapies. The Council's formation was a milestone for homeopathy in New Zealand as it unified all the practitioners, both physicians and trained professionals, under one banner.”
  • Naturopaths of New Zealand 
    “Naturopaths of New Zealand Inc. became an Incorporated Society in January 2007. However, we have a long, proud history behind us. Naturopaths of New Zealand (Inc) is the result of an amalgamation between two well-established Naturopathic bodies: South Pacific Association of Natural Therapists Inc. (SPANT), and Association of Natural therapies Inc (ANT).”

General Bodies and Other Therapies

  • The Natural Health Council (NZ) Inc. 
    “The Natural Health Council (NZ) Inc. has evolved from the NZ Natural Health Practitioners Accreditation Board (NZNHPAB) which was established in 1987 to set and monitor education standards for naturopathy, homoeopathy, herbal medicine, remedial body therapies and osteopathy. The new Council is a national, professional council which will include members from all natural health modalities with well-documented scopes of practice and high standards of education and monitoring of practitioners.”
  • Kinesiology Practitioners Accreditation Board (KPAB) 
    “KPAB is the official forum for communicating and mediating between Kinesiologists, the Government and the Public regarding Kinesiology Practitioner Clinical and Educational standards. To establish and maintain a Register of competent Kinesiologists. The Board is charged with the function of setting and maintain the standards of Kinesiology Practice.”
  • The New Zealand Ayurvedic Association 
  • NZ Society of Clinical & Applied Hypnotherapy 
    “This Society was founded in 1984 and was dedicated to the furtherance of Clinical Hypnotherapy in New Zealand, and to establish Professional Standards of Practice, which would be acceptable to traditional health providers.”
  • The New Zealand Charter of Health Practitioners Inc.
     “The New Zealand Charter of Health Practitioners Incorporated is Australasia’s largest professional body of HealthCare practitioners representing 80% of the natural HealthCare profession. The Charter’s framework embraces several modalities including acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy, naturopathy, nutrition, massage therapy, reiki, shiatsu, and, Bowen therapy.”

Rongoā Māori

  • Rongoa Māori – traditional Māori medicine 
    Basic introduction.
  • Te rongoa Māori 
    Christchurch City Libraries page. “Rongoa is the word for remedies that are created from natural plants and trees. This page links to resources about te rongoa Māori in the library collection, and online.”
  • Rongoā Māori - Māori medicine 
    Manukau Libraries page. “This page lists a selection of resources relating to Rongoā Māori, its healing properties, traditional uses, treatment and herbal remedies to illnesses and the importance of the Tohunga.”
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR)
    ESR undertook "a project funded by the Ministry of Health that examined the contribution of rongoā Māori to indigenous wellbeing and identified issues for the ongoing sustainability of traditional Māori healing in New Zealand."
  • Ngä Tipu Whakaoranga: A database containing information on traditional uses of New Zealand native plants (maintained by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research and funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology).

Other useful New Zealand websites

  • The Australasian Integrative Medicine Association - New Zealand (AIMA-NZ)
    “AIMA is an independent not for profit organisation of individual medical practitioners seeking to provide whole person medical care by integrating evidence‐based complementary medicine into mainstream practice. Mission Statement: To act as the peak medical body promoting the practice of evidence‐based integrative medicine, research and education as the gold standard for optimising wellbeing, prevention and management of disease in Australasian healthcare systems.”
  • Integrative Health Trust Otago (IHTO) 
    “IHTO was formed in 2004 by members of the public and a group of doctors, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners, and academics. The idea to form a trust flowed from recognition that there was a need in the community for better information on CAM, and the desire to support initiatives that give people experiencing illness broader healthcare options than those provided by publicly funded, conventional healthcare agencies.”
    See descriptions of various CAM modalities
  • The New Zealand Natural Medicine Association (NZNMA) “was established in the early 1990s as a professional, non-profit organization of health professionals dedicated to the promotion of integrative healthcare incorporating Allopathic Complementary and Alternative Healthcare. The aims of the association include research and education in all aspects of nutritional and environmental medicine as they pertain to the preservation of health and prevention of disease, providing treatment options to optimise health in the community.”
  • Natural Health NZ “is dedicated to providing information about natural therapies, practitioners and health products. Our aim is to promote awareness of the benefits of natural health care and personal development, and to help you make informed, healthy choices.
  • Cancer Society New Zealand on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). “The Complementary and Alternative Medicine Database is a list of websites with summaries of what's on the site and a score for each website's quality.”
  • The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) in Dunedin “is New Zealand's national monitoring centre for adverse reactions. It collects and evaluates spontaneous reports of adverse reactions to medicines, vaccines, herbal products and dietary supplements from health professionals in New Zealand.”
  • New Zealand Food Safety Authority “On 1 July 2010, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) were amalgamated, and on 1 July 2011 the Ministry of Fisheries was also merged into MAF. This will provide a single organisation focused on the integrity and performance of New Zealand’s animal, plant, food and related sectors.”
  • New Zealand Consumer Magazine: An online source of independent consumer information on various topics including alternative health information. Please note that this website requires a paid subscription to view in full.
  • Yellow pages: Search the New Zealand yellow pages (Telecom business telephone directory) to find the nearest CAM practitioner in your area.

Databases of CAM Research

The very useful paper below describes a systematic search for database resources for CAM. The paper contains a table of the 45 on-line databases found and the subjects covered.

An overview of 45 published database resources for complementary and alternative medicine.
Boehm K, Raak C, Vollmar HC, Ostermann T. Health Info Libr J. 2010 Jun;27(2):93-105.


Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has succeeded to implement itself in the academic context of universities. In order to get information on CAM, clinicians, researchers and healthcare professionals as well as the lay public are increasingly turning to online portals and databases, which disseminate relevant resources. One specific type of online information retrieval systems, namely the database, is being reviewed in this article.


This overview aims at systematically retrieving and describing all databases covering the field of CAM. One of the requirements for inclusion was that the database would also have to be published in a medical journal.

Data sources

The databases AMED, CAMbase, EMBASE, and MEDLINE/PubMed were searched between December 2008 and December 2009 for publications relevant to CAM databases. The authors' specialist library was also searched for grey literature to be included.

Study selection

All included databases were then visited online and information on the context, structure and volume of the database was extracted.

Main results

Forty-five databases were included in this overview. Databases covered herbal therapies (n = 11), traditional Chinese medicine (n = 9) and some dealt with a vast number of CAM modalities (n = 9), amongst others. The amount of time the databases had been in existence ranged from 4 to 53 years. Countries of origin included the USA (n = 14), UK (n = 7) and Germany (n = 6), amongst others. The main language in 42 of 45 databases was English.


Although this overview is quite comprehensive with respect to the field of CAM, certain CAM practices such as chiropractic, massage, reflexology, meditation or yoga may not have been covered adequately. A more detailed assessment of the quality of the included databases might give additional insights into the listed resources. The creation of a personalised meta-search engine is suggested, towards which this overview could be seen as a first step.

List of Databases

For details of therapies covered, language, access and size of database, see Table 2 in the paper above.

Databases that could not be accessed as at March 2012:

Other lists of CAM databases:

  • Alternative Medicine Foundation Directory of Databases: Although no longer operating after September 2010, search this site for useful internet bibliographic databases for complementary and alternative medicine in the following areas:

    1. Major Structured Biomedical Bibliographic Databases
    2. Main Databases specific to Alternative and Complementary Medicine
    3. Medical, Pharmaceutical or Scientific Bibliographic Databases
    4. Traditional Systems of Medicine Databases
    5. Therapy or Modality-Specific Bibliographic Databases
    6. Clinical Trial and Research Project Databases
  • Herbal medicine database, HerbMed
  • Tibetan Medicine database, TibetMed

Other Websites and Information on CAM

  • Complementary Medicine Information for Primary Health Care Groups
    Provided by the Department of Health in England, this site provided information for primary care groups on acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, and osteopathy.
  • Cancer Information Service: National Cancer Institute, USA. 
    This site provides the latest and most accurate cancer information to patients, their families, the public, and health professionals.
  • Quackwatch: “A guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions”
  • Other sites sceptical about CAM or working to remove CAM from universities:
  • Adverse Event Reporting in the USA 
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has millions of "adverse event" reports,” ranging from fatigue to fatal heart attacks, for thousands of prescription drugs dating back to 1969. But the information hasn't been readily accessible—until now.”

    “A start-up company, Adverse Events Inc., has streamlined the FDA's often impenetrable database and made it easy to search the adverse-event reports for more than 4,500 drugs, free and online.

    Another start-up, Clarimed LLC (since merged into Device Matters), has done the same for reports filed with the FDA on 130,000 medical devices, a far more complex group that runs the gamut from syringes to stents to tanning beds and diagnostic machines that could impact tens of thousands of lives.

    "While basic searches will remain free, AdverseEvents plans to charge consumers $10 a month for access to full drug reports …, and will offer health-care professionals and businesses more detailed information for additional fees. Clarimed may follow suit."

    “The adverse-event reporting system for drugs (known as AERS) helps the FDA monitor side effects that crop up after a medication is approved and used in the real world. (The system for devices, called Maude, for Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience, started in the 1990s.) AERS has received 6.4 million reports, and the volume has risen steadily. There were 759,000 for drugs and 238,000 for devices in 2010. But reporting is voluntary, and represents only a fraction of all the side effects and malfunctions, the FDA says.”

    “People seeking AERS information can download raw quarterly data from the FDA's website, but it isn't cumulative and requires technical expertise to use. They can also file a Freedom of Information Act request for more specific data, but what they get back may be voluminous and impenetrable.”

    “One problem is that the data are sometimes jumbled. Most reports come through drug and device manufacturers, but patients, physicians, family members—even lawyers—can send reports to the FDA, and they often contain errors and inconsistencies. “

    “AdverseEvents Inc. developed an algorithm that filters out duplicates and combines spelling variations, reducing over 200,000 drug names to about 4,500. It also made the data easily searchable and comparable for thousands of conditions and side effects back to 2004.”
    The FDA files also don’t give a sense of the incidence or the number of reports relative to the use of a particular drug. “AdverseEvents plans to post prescription data for some drugs. But sales information isn't available for many medical devices”.

The aim of this page is to enable people interested in research and/or the practice of CAM to easily identify relevant training courses available in New Zealand.

Please contact us with relevant details about any courses we have missed, and we will consider them for placement on this page. Please note however that we only list courses that are New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) or Committee on University Academic Programmes - (CUAP) approved. Listing of the following information does not represent an endorsement, recommendation or favoring by ENZCAM. Click on the item of interest and you will be taken to the relevant website.

CAM courses

The following colleges run CAM-specific training courses in New Zealand. CAM modalities and colleges are listed alphabetically. Please note that despite have NZQA approval some of these courses are about CAM therapies that have little evidential proof of efficacy – that is there is little proof that they work. However lack of evidence does not necessarily mean evidence of lack of effect.


The colleges below offer courses in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in New Zealand. These colleges have NZQA approval to deliver the National Diploma in Acupuncture, and meet the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists (NZRA) standard.


Ayurvedic Medicine


Herbal Medicine

  • Auckland College of Classical Homeopathy: This college does not have a website. For further information on the courses contact Derek Briggs, PO Box 19-502, Avondale, Auckland 7. Telephone: (09) 828-9700. Email:
  • Lotus Holistic Centre
  • New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • South Pacific College of Natural Therapeutics (NZ) Inc.
  • Waikato Centre for Herbal Medicine Limited. This college does not have a website. For further information on the courses contact Yvonne Gattung, PO Box 15-064, Dinsdale, Hamilton. Telephone: (07) 843-2313. Email:


  • Auckland College of Classical Homeopathy: This college does not have a website. For further information on the courses contact Derek Briggs, PO Box 19 502, Avondale, Auckland 7. Telephone: (09) 828-9700. Email:
  • Lotus Holistic Centre





Further courses, degrees, or certificates that have obtained approval from the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) are available on the NZQA website. This site can be searched by modality.

Some nursing schools also have a formal CAM component. For example, Otago Polytechnic has an optional course on “complementary therapies” as part of their Bachelor of Nursing degree:

Other courses of interest

The Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine, Education and Research (ACCMER) provides post-graduate courses in Complementary Medicine as well as a Graduate Certificate in Evidence-based Complementary Medicine, through a flexible distance learning programme.