In the last decade, a large number of  health therapies of questionable scientific merit have achieved wide public acceptance.

These modalities (such as chelation, herbalism, homeopathy, therapeutic touch, and colonic irrigation) have failed generally to prove their usefulness in objective tests.

Many of these “alternative therapies” are dangerous in and of themselves. More commonly, belief in their utility has caused people with real health problems to delay seeking proper help - sometimes with fatal results.

It is of concern that the prevalence of belief in these and similar nostrums is bringing about institutional changes in our health care system.  Federal and provincial legislatures are under intense pressure to relax standards of safety and effectiveness.

Many provinces are allowing advocates of these therapies to give health advice to the public and millions of tax dollars are wasted yearly on baseless “alternative” treatments.

Scientists, doctors and concerned citizens can no longer afford to ignore a problem which threatens what is arguably our most precious social program.

Indeed, the role of science in public policy is at stake.

We believe the government must protect the public and ensure that important standards of safety and effectiveness  remain intact.



Our goal is to develop a multi-faceted strategy for influencing public opinion and government policy.

With a national organization and a wealth of experts, we are in a position to speak with great credibility.

We plan to:

Be a source of expert information on issues pertaining to health.

Be in a position to advise governments on ways to base health policies on the best available scientific evidence.

Offer a critical and authoritative opinion on “alternative” or “complementary” medicine.

Supply the media with information regarding  adverse health outcomes or financial exploitation due to the use of unproven therapies.

Explore the implications of companies making false health claims about “alternative” health products or modalities.

Members in different regions may wish to contribute as they see fit to local or national issues.

Canadians for Rational Health Policy (CRHP) can, as a group, lend weight to efforts to make positive changes in each area of concern.

“It is time for the scientific community to stop giving alternative medicine a free ride.”

(NEJM Editorial, Sept 17, 1998)



CRHP advocates the development of health policies and programs based on the best available scientific evidence.

CRHP perceives a pressing need to counter the misinformation spread by those who promote unproven, untested, and sometimes unsafe techniques and products.

CRHP maintains a network of scientists and health professionals willing to provide objective critiques of questionable claims.

CRHP strongly supports government agencies in their mandate to protect the public from misleading and false claims made in the health arena.

CRHP believes that the public's tax dollars and insurance premiums should be spent only on therapies that can provide scientific evidence for their safety and efficacy.

CRHP promotes patient autonomy by ensuring that patients have access to the most reliable information available for use in making treatment decisions.

CRHP believes the federal government has a duty to protect vulnerable Canadians from the financial and medical harm brought about by reliance on unproven health products and treatments.



Shortly after its inception in August 1998, CRHP sent a letter to the federal health minister regarding regulation of herbal “medicines.”  After making a subsequent presentation we were invited to provide information to the minister regarding our concerns about the questionable safety and effectiveness of herbal medicines.  CRHP was disturbed that the  minister’s Expert Advisory Panel was comprised almost entirely of “natural health practitioners” and owners of herbal medicine companies.
Our letter stated:

...The Advisory Panel, with one notable exception, has demonstrated its willingness to allow unsubstantiated claims to be made and that it lacks an appreciation of the scientific method and the role of objective evidence in adjudicating claims of therapeutic efficacy.
History has shown that the kinds of soft "evidence" the panel is willing to credit is seriously deficient in its ability to decide such complex issues.  Our current safeguards evolved out of a realization that such "traditional" methods of adjudication, relying essentially on subjective estimates and personal testimonials, are prone to serious error. ...Seeking unbiased and dispassionate experts who would weigh all of evidence critically should be the utmost goal in deliberations of this sort.  Suggesting instead that products making major health claims should be freely dispensed unless the government has proven them to be harmful makes no sense, economically or medically.

Our dialogue with the ministry continues. It is our hope that we may encourage the government to base its policy regarding ‘natural’ health products on sound scientific appraisal.



Our membership is expanding rapidly.

Current supporters include:

Dr. B. Borwein (Assistant Dean, Research, UWO)
Dr. T. Buckley (Prof Biochem, UVIC)
T. Butterworth (pharmacist, U of M)
Dr. B. Beyerstein (Prof Psych, SFU)
Dr. M. Hollenberg (former Dean of Medicine at UBC)
Dr. T. Handley (BC College of P&S)

...and many others from the scientific community across Canada.


Membership is free

Obligations are nil

For More Information Contact


“If you feel, as we do, that science is 'a candle in the dark', we would
be pleased to add your name to our membership list. “