Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Guide

This guide suggests research strategies and useful print and electronic resources on this emerging health care field.

Finding Secondary Sources: Books, Journals, Reports

Start your research by looking up secondary sources because someone might have already done research on or related to your topic.


Select List of CAM Books

  1. CAM Journals

    Below is a list of CAM and major medical journals. This list links you to the full-text journals where you can retrieve articles by volume and issue number, as well as the database where you can do keyword search for articles in that particular journal (if you limit the search to the journal) or in all the journals in that database.

    If you have a citation to an article from a CAM, medical or law journal NOT listed above and you want to find out if it is available electronically to the Georgetown community, you can search the journal title on E-Journal Finder. Bear in mind journals available through the Medical Library or the Main Library are not accessible to law students off-campus. If you cannot find your journal on either E-Journal Finder or GULLiver (the Law Library catalog), request the article through Interlibrary loan.

    The journal listing below only lists a handful of journals that publish articles on CAM issues. If you want to be more comprehensive, you should also search the following medical databases, legal indexes and policy study databases (some give you only citations or abstracts, others are full-text databases). The Using Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research Guide explains clearly the differences between searching indexes and full-text databases.

    Alternative Medicine: An Objective Assessment (Phil B. Fontanarosa ed., 2000) [R733 .A45 2000] collects in one volume articles published in the 1998 alternative medicine theme issues of JAMA and the Archives Journals, as well as articles published in these journals within the previous or subsequent year.

  2. Medical/Science Indexes
    • Medline (Ovid) (1966-)
      A subscription database available through the Dahlgren Library (the Medical Library) web site provides some full-text articles (compared to PubMed's free but citation/abstract only database). Check GULLiver (The Law Library Catalog) and Journal Finder to determine if you can access the materials in the Law Library.
    • CAM on PubMed
      It automatically limits searches to the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) subset of PubMed which contains some articles that are out of the scope of Medline, in addition to all Medline citations. It is free.
    • CINAHL Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (1983-) On-campus access only
      Also indexes some CAM journals.
    • ProQuest Research Library (1980s-) (Georgetown Law only)
      Indexes and abstracts articles from over 1800 periodicals. Some CAM journals are included.
    • Web of Science (1980-)
      "Web of Science is a multidisciplinary bibliographic database that indexes and abstracts journals in the science and social sciences. In addition to regular author, title and keyword searches, the citation database offer access to articles' cited references. You may take a known, relevant paper and find other, more recent papers that cite it."
    • International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements (IBIDS) Database (Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health) "provides access to bibliographic citations and abstracts from published, international, and scientific literature on dietary supplements."
  3. Legal Indexes

    Searching the journal databases on Westlaw and Lexis sounds much more direct and convenient (one-stop shopping for the full text of the articles), but Westlaw and Lexis do not give you access to ALL law journals. Indexes are more comprehensive in their coverage and the subject headings help you retrieve more relevant articles. For more information about the differences between using an index and searching full-text journals, please consult Using Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research Guide. The main legal journal indexes are:
    • Legal Periodicals and Books (formerly Index to Legal Periodicals)
      Citations to articles from over 700 legal publications, plus monographs published in 1993 or later. Periodical coverage begins in August 1981. Legal Periodicals and Books Retro covers 1908-1981.
      • Suggested subject headings: alternative medicine, dietary supplements
    • LegalTrac (1980-) (also known as Legal Resource Index)
      Cumulative indexing of approximately 800 legal publications. Also includes law related articles from more than 1,000 additional bar journals, business and general interest periodicals. Coverage begins 1980.
      • Suggested subject headings: alternative medicine, holistic medicine, integrative medicine, homeopathy, dietary supplements
    • Legal Journals Index (1986-) (for EU and UK journal articles)
      • Suggested subject headings: complementary medicine
    • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (1985-) indexes close to 500 international and comparative law periodicals
      • Do keyword search because subject headings are quite broad, such as medical laws and legislation.
  4. Policy Studies/Government Reports
    1. Major Government Reports
      The above reports are only a handful of reports or policy study papers published by the government and by research centers. If you want to be more comprehensive, you should also search the following indexes and databases:
    2. Indexes/Databases
      • PolicyFile (1990-)
        Indexes and abstracts public policy research and analyses originating from think tanks, university research programs, research organizations, and publishers. Where available, access to home pages and full text are made available within individual abstracts.
      • PAIS International (1972-) Indexes public policy and public affairs literature.
      • GAO Reports (1994-)
        The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the investigative arm of Congress. "Its mission is to support Congress in meeting its Constitutional responsibilities (e.g. oversight, policy, and funding decision) and to help improve the performance and accountability of the Federal Government for the American People." Most GAO reports are done at the request of members of Congress.
      • Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Reports) available on ProQuest Congressional
        These are non-partisan and in-depth reports produced by the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the Library of Congress, on a variety of topics for Congress. 
      • CQ Researcher Weekly publication covers the most current and controversial issues of the day with complete summaries, insight into all sides of the issues, bilbiographies and more. Some of the recent CAM related publications are Alternative Medicine (September 6, 2013), Dietary Supplements (September 3, 2004), and Homeopathy Debate (December 19, 2003).

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