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Is alternative medicine a bit like when children play at doctors and nurses, but for adults?

Pat : i don’t believe any of the quack practices you mention have been shown to be “extremely successful”. Not surprising, as they are all nonsensical

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14 Responses to “Is alternative medicine a bit like when children play at doctors and nurses, but for adults?”

  1. Shadow said :

    Alternative medicine is along the lines of herbalology and acupuncture. Its anything that deviates from the normal doctors visit and pill bottle.

  2. Pat said :

    In Western culture, alternative medicine is any healing practice “that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine”, or “that which has not been shown consistently to be effective.” Alternative medicine is often based on the belief that a particular health regimen has efficacious effects even while there exists various bodies of evidence to contradict such a belief under the rigorous standards of evidence based medicine. In practice, alternative medicine encompasses therapies with a historical or cultural, rather than a scientific, basis. Commonly cited examples include naturopathy, chiropractic, herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani, Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, hypnosis, homeopathy, acupuncture, and diet-based therapies, in addition to a range of other practices.

    Some of these treatment are extremly successful.

  3. spoon said :

    Not really. Alternative medicines are medicines whose claimed results have not been proven in mainstream scientific and/or medical tests. They are used however because of the placebo effect which can (in some cases) have a great physical effect. There are many examples and studies of the placebo effect helping people with all kinds of symptoms.

  4. angrydoc said :

    Yes, alties (homeopaths especially) are adults who want to play doctor or nurse but don’t want to go to medical or nursing school. They come up with all kinds of excuses such as “I don’t wanna be a slave to BIG PHARMA,” or “natural is better!,” etc, etc.

  5. William T said :

    I’ve never heard it put better. Although not all of them are playing at doctor. Some of them are vile, evil scam artists who know that what they are doing isn’t effective but do it anyway to make money.

  6. izzy said :

    No, not really.
    If medicines of any sort give comfort to anybody they have a place.
    Some hospices have alt med practitioners working there voluntarily.
    Why keep on, it’s getting very boring.

  7. Angelhil said :

    a bit yeah. It would be sweet and cute if it didn’t do so much harm to health and wallets

  8. Rhianna Returns said :

    Perhaps in some respects. People keep asking why do myself and other sceptics on this forum keep on posting in this section and I’d like to explain why.

    We have to remember that alternative ‘Therapists’ aren’t qualified medically, and this is something that needs to be made very clear to those who seek such ‘treatment’. Just because such ‘therapies’ are considered natural, does not necessarily mean that they are safe.

    Homoeopathy is the pinnacle of quackery and for the past two centuries, no one can prove that it works.Water is diluted to such an extent that there isn’t a single molecule of any active substance left. The hypothesis goes against everything we know and believe about physics and chemistry. Some would argue that if that’s the case, it can do no harm either so where is the problem? The problem is that NO alternative ‘therapy’ can be considered safe if it means that people abandon functional therapy in pursuit of CAM which will generally leave them medically untreated. If alternative Therapists want to refer to their potions or activities as ‘medicine’ or ‘therapies’ then their preparations and treatments must be put on the same evidence base as conventional medicine. All preparations and activities offered must be better regulated.

    Would we get away with giving drugs to people where there is no measure of efficacy? No safety data regarding drug interactions etc? No! So why should these people get away with it? The Alternative Therapy industry is a multi billion dollar industry with very few regulatory bodies over seeing it and this isn’t acceptable. We need to protect vulnerable people from charlatans.

    My main concern has always been herbal remedies. I’d like to make very clear that I am not saying that herbal ‘remedies’ do not contain any active ingredients. Some of the conventional medicine we use today are derived from plants etc. But we must remember that herbal remedies in their basic form (without scientific development) are not shown to be very effective in clinical trials but as I said they do contain active ingredients so it would be surprising if other plants or micro-organisms did not offer some degree of therapeutic potential. But for this reason, herbal remedies also have the potential to cause adverse drug reactions and if given incorrectly it can be fatal There was a case not so long ago where a PhD studied died after taking Chinese herbal preparations:-

    If we look at Digoxin for example, it’s well known that if digoxin was to be discovered now, in present day, there is a high chance that it would not receive a product licence due to the fact the ratio of toxic to therapeutic dose is too low. It has a very narrow therapeutic window. How do we know this? Because we test our drugs BEFORE they are given to people. With herbal remedies, there is no specific standard of efficacy and safety.

    The concern is that many herbal remedies that are for sale have not been thoroughly tested for efficacy, drug interactions, toxicity and teratogenicity. In the UK, steps are being taken to make this practice a little more safe. By April 2011 all manufactured herbal medicines will be required to have either a traditional herbal registration.

    There is also a big concern that many herbal ‘remedies’ can interact with pharmacological drugs too.
    Herbal remedies in the UK, are probably quite weak, so some may argue that the risk of toxicity is low, but there is no way to measure this.

    People keep saying (which is fair comment), why not leave people to their own devices and let them practice alternative therapies if it brings some comfort to them. There is no problem with this, but it needs to be regulated so people know exactly what they are taking, and currently, there are few organisational bodies in place to ensure this.

    CAM members don’t just stop at advertising unregulated drugs though. They also attempt to take on conventional therapy and go to great lengths to try and convince people it is unsafe and damaging. The Swiss Homoeopathic association took the time to write to thousands of pregnant women encouraging them not to have the H1N1 vaccine.

    This is highly dangerous advise which will I am sure, result in fatalities. Due to naturally suppressed immunity in pregnancy, pregnant women are 5 times more likely to require hospital admission and many of the deaths in the UK that we have seen as a result of swine flu have indeed been pregnant women.

    Us medical professionals have a DUTY to educate people with regards to health care. If we let CAM continue the way it is, we are failing them.

    Deeboo: Thats a very lame argument. Standard cop out is to blame ‘big Pharma’.

    The problem is, you STILL haven’t been able to credibly explain how Homoeopathy works. If it works then please explain to us how this is scientifically possible?

    “The idea that Homoeopathic remedies are the greatest quackery are just thrown out there by people who make money from selling you Pharmaceuticals”

    But…..I have nothing to do with any Pharmaceutical companies!

    I am simply trying to point out to people the evidence supporting homoeopathy or lack of rather.

  9. DrDan said :

    Some of us who get “lumped” into alternative medicine are real doctors. The problem is that there is no alternative. Something is either effective or it is not. I, as a neuro-musculo skeletal chiropractor am not an alternative, but complementary. Many things complement others. rehab compliments a good surgical outcome, but PT is not an alternative to surgery. I work with many different types of doctors. We all have our place. Unfortunately, the “showmen” spewing all the non-sensical garbage get all the press.

  10. irenaaneri1980 said :

    Well,since we’re talking children,some might consider that a very childish question.
    If you feel it isn’t suited to you,then simply don’t take it.
    There are some dubious,ineffective and dangerous treatments in both the alternative medicine field and the pharmaceutical medicine fieid(for lack of better words)
    If a person is honest and reasonable minded,they can see and admit that.
    However, for a supporter of traditional/pharmaceutical medicine or a supporter of alternative medicine to stubbornly affirm/believe “my industry is perfect” almost with like a patriotic pride while continuously pointing the finger at another industry and pointing out its flaws is no different then lets say, someone from Germany continuously and obsessively pointing out the flaws of Sweden for example while blindly refusing to look at the problems in their own country because of allegiance or whatever and think “what problem?We dont have any problems”.This is denial.

    There are some good people that are sceptics that are helpful and that wish to warn people from ineffective or “bogus” treatments or save them from wasted money but they also keep an open mind that some natural things can be effective and proven.This includes some M.D’s

    On the otherhand though,there seems to be some people that seem to make their life out of rubbishing ALL alternative medicine even in the face of when theres evidence that a certain thing is effective and proven.
    I don’t know if they’ve had a bad experience with a dubious alternative treatment & been jaded/hurt or if its an “ego” thing.
    I can understand if they’ve had a bad experience why they could then feel that way and my sympathies go out to them.
    Likewise,there are also people that are completely against pharmaceutical medicine & M.D’s because theyve had a bad experience there & in the same way i sympathise for them too.

    There are some people in the alternative medicine field that also would like the dubious practices out as this can put a bad name on the whole industry.
    Ionic Foot baths are one thing that i believe are “nonsense”.I’m not saying that i dont believe in toxins,i do,but i dont believe that those baths pull out any toxins or do anything.The water changing colour is not from your body-it is from the machine itself.
    It wouldn’t be too expensive to prove that these machines were “real” if they were.Controlled studies for herbs are sometimes very expensive so its not always possible to do but with those foot baths it would be affordable to do studies.They could have the water analysed,see what happens when machine is running but with nobody in it etc.
    That way,if it was genuine(which it isnt) they could prove it and silence critics.However if tests show the “dirty” water is actually from the machine itself then consumers could know not to waste their money and be misled.

    I do strongly believe in herbal medicine though as there have been countless studies showing its effectiveness including the humble gariic and ginger.

    That said though,herbal medicine isn’t without its dangers as Rhianna Returns pointed out with that article.
    Im sure though,Rhianna Returns,as someone who believes in evidence based medicine,would agree that one death doesn’t mean you then discard the whole of the industry-if that was the case then we wouldnt have a medical field altogether.
    Also,that article gives very little information.It says the doctors feel the medicine COULD have been “jin bu huan”.Thats not evidence.Was it or wasn’t it?
    It wouldnt surprise me if it was though, as this medicine has previously caused liver damage.
    Herbal medicines needs to be taken with caution and information as some herbs can cause hepatotoxicity amongst other things.
    You cant just pop herbs like lollies thinking there are no side effects like some claim.
    However people that claim that herbal medicine is “quackery” are not correct either.
    Claiming that herbal medicine(for the most part) doesnt work and is “quackery” would be no different then claiming that the consumption of vitamin A(for example) has no effect and is a “placebo”.
    However,the very reason why too much vitamin A can cause toxicity is because it DOES have some genuine effect on the body if that make sense

    Rhianna_Returns:I agree with you that it would be good for herbal medicine to be better regulated,perhaps something similar to Germanys commission E but MUCH bigger and much better as it has flaws but to say that herbal medicines in their basic forms havn’t been found to be very effective in clinical trials is incorrect.
    If people are going to debate about this then it has to be kept honest.
    Ginger for example,in its pure/basic form has been found in clinical trials to be very effective in relieving pregnancy related nausea but not for postoperative nausea or with conflicting results.
    Below are the abstracts of some trials,relatively small,largest involving 291 women.All reported favourable results regarding the effectiveness of Ginger in relieving pregnancy related nausea and vomiting

  11. rickyoutfield said :

    Its seems obvious that you don’t understand anything about alternative medicine.

    I dont’ know of any drug or surgery that actually addresses the cause of the problem, just pallitive and forces the body to “feel better”. If you have a fire in the kitchen, you can put a fan and pull out the smoke, its not going to put out the fire that will eventually burn down the house. That is medicine today.

  12. Deebo said :

    Most of the Homeopaths that I know have gone to school from 4-6 years. They are not “medical doctors” but sure have helped me!

    The idea that Homeopathic remedies are the greatest quackery are just thrown out there by people who make money from selling you Pharmaceuticals. The big pharmaceutical companies have an iron fist grip on the so called “medicines” out there. These same “medicines” that always come with the warning that they may cause liver damage , or kidney damage or constipation, or Death!
    Though no side effects of Homeopathy is no good, I want some liver damage!
    They say that Homeopathic remedies are not verified medically or need more scientific testing etc. But they will never approve them because the big companies cannot patent them like they can “Tamiflu” the only supposed “cure” for the H1N1 and the bird flu when we had it. Big money being made there. Who does all the “scientific testing”…..mmmmmm ?

    Saying alternative practitioners are scammers and only in it for the money, I don’t know any alternative health practitioner that is making the disgusting wages that doctors are! Especially if they promote certain pharmaceutical companies…extra bonuses for all!
    I mean my doctor would charge me a few grand for the same thing I’d see my practitoner for $60.

    My doctor always seems to prescribe the same things…gee is it gong to be antibiotics again?
    Why won’t the stuff the doctor prescribes ever make me truly better… I mean why do I have to take it for life.. isn’t that just palliation? OOOOH nobody wants to talk about that!

    A person doesn’t need to “believe” in alternative health, they just need to try it. Or don’t and live with your chronic problems forever and forever palliate yourself wondering why you can’t regain that feeling of health that you had when you were young!
    I just did after many years of Homeopathic remedies, I haven’t felt this vital and healthy since I was a kid! It’s like a gift to get my health back, something that I’m not going to take for granted.
    Oh but wait, it’s all placebo effect. That’s why I have been to many practitioners and sometimes the remedy didn’t work even though they were telling me that this would help me (placebo effect , not working) ( there are good practitioners and then some not so good, just like doctors, lawyers, builders , some good some not so good) A person just has to keep trying, I mean if I went to the doctor and they told me there was nothing more they could do for me. I sure as hell wouldn’t give up!

    I just think that there are many other alternatives out there and to be closed minded isn’t going to hurt anyone…except you!

    So wolf down those pills and wonder why you feel like crap and you just need more and more expensive drugs that you have to keep taking.
    It’s much cheaper buying the drugs all the time than maybe going to see one of those oh so expensive alternative healers eh?

  13. wmayers99 said :

    To a great extent, it is exactly that. BTW – DrDan is one of those quacks, and those who’re saying you don’t know a thing about alternative medicine are deluded.

  14. Gary Y said :

    No. Children playing are not being deluded, liars, scam artists, deniers, truth twisters, conspiracy theorists, indoctrinated, cranks, whack jobs, true believers or even wishful thinkers.

    They are not taking any money, offering false hope, stealing time or putting anyone’s health or life at risk.

    They are just playing. And in the game the patient usually gets better. And they usually use conventional medicine props, like toy stethoscopes and thermometers.

    A false analogy I would say.


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