Ever see the deodorant where the seller claims it's "clinical strength"? Ever wonder what the difference is and what it all means if anything? Well, here's the scoop:
To start, here is the dictionary meaning of the term "clinical" per dictionary.com:
"Clinical" experience in regard to a profession can mean you've had experience in a controlled lab setting. For instance, I'm seeing clinical exercise physiologist, as opposed to just exercise physiologist. "Clinical" is a term I've never thought to use as a differentiation even though I have had 3 years clinical experience in a lab setting. Clinical in terms of a profession just means that you've spent time in a lab making sure that what you studied/claim to be true is in fact true.
"Clinical" is simply a term that advertisers are capitalizing on to mean stronger and to indicate that usually a prescription is needed in order to obtain it.
"A vital part of modern medical research is "clinical research." Although laboratory and animal research are of great importance, it is clinical research that answers the question "Does it work?" To answer this question, specific conditions or treatments are studied in a RESEARCH STUDY or CLINICAL TRIAL to understand the nature of a disease or the effectiveness of a drug or medical device."
-NYU School of Medicine, General Clinical Research Center
In a nutshell, the term "clinical" is an indication that the item in question has been put to the test to see if what is says it does is actually true. There are many things that need to go in place when a "clinical" study is being done. For instance, there must be a sponsor, a principal investigator, an institutional review board and other things for it to be considered a "real" institutional study.
For now, let's assume that this is the true method that is being followed with rules in place until bandwagon jumpers who try to make claims to sell a product will force stiffer rules and proof. Eventually, you can count on it being watered down just as the same way "fresh" and "natural" can't really be trusted anymore to have the meaning it was intended to in the first place.