The Differential Incorporation of CAM into the Medical Establishment: the Case of Acupuncture and Homeopathy in Portugal

Joana Almeida

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This paper examines the differential incorporation of acupuncture and homeopathy into the medical establishment in Portugal. While the former has been incorporated into the medical establishment, the latter is still banned by the Medical Council, yet remains in practice by medical doctors in the country.

Drawing on the insider viewpoints of medical doctors committed to these two therapies, the findings of this paper suggest that the rhetoric of insufficient scientific evidence of homeopathy still prevails within the medical establishment. However, two other factors were emphasised: the medical prejudice or 'resistance to innovation' of the Portuguese Medical Council and the idiosyncrasies of acupuncture and homeopathy, which have made them amendable to biomedicine (or not).

This paper argues that the differential responses of the Portuguese medical establishment to acupuncture and homeopathy are due to reasons beyond that given of the medical rhetoric of insufficient scientific evidence for homeopathy, and which extend to issues of professional status and power. This paper suggests that the emerging commercial interest of the pharmaceutical industry in homeopathy's pharmacopeia worldwide could enhance homeopathy's status in the country and could therefore pressurise the medical orthodoxy to redress its position towards this therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • CAM incorporation; acupuncture; homeopathy; Portugal;

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