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What makes you think alternative medicine is effective?

Indeed, western medicine can be risky. But alternative medicines are not usually backed by any kind of science. Which is not to say that science does not study nature and plants in relation to human health. Aspirin was discovered in the bark of a type of tree.

But with such concrete science backing western medicine and next to no science behind alternative medicine, why should I believe it’s effective?

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10 Responses to “What makes you think alternative medicine is effective?”

  1. Can of Beans said :

    there is science to some alternative medicine and many are attempts at extracting the ingredients yourself, which is silly if you can buy better stuff for your needs but is a tradition that should be remembered like moon shining and home brew. .

  2. Pat B said :

    I have battled nerve damage from an accident for the past three years. Conventional medicine had so many side effects, it made me miserable. The actual studies have shown that western medicine has serious limitations to easing nerve damage.
    Since I found a good accupunturist, who is also an RN, I have finally found some relief.
    Like western medicine, not every doctor or accupuncturist is the same. Care and medicines are subjective. I have felt like a guiniea pig for these meds for three years. I’d rather have the pain and keep my faculties.
    Alternative medicine is just as effective as the research you put into it. That is the same with western medicine. In this day of specialists that only want to cope with their specific area, you almost have to self diagnose to get to the right type of Doctor. How is this more scientific.
    I have come to the conclusion that the scientific part, is an illusion.

  3. articleresearcher said :

    I used to be a 100% sceptic, having been brought up on conventional western medicine. Then, I decided to give some forms of alternative medicine a try. To my amazement, they really worked. I still hang on to believing parts of western medicine but no longer pooh pooh at alternative medicine.

    Whether it is backed by statistics or not, what matters is that it works for you. Alternative medicine do have a science behind it but it is just that some times, wellness or wellbeing is hard to measure in quantitative terms.

    You won’t know unless you try them yourself. Some are of course more “believable” than others. You still need to apply some logic to the theory behind them.

  4. Eagle 1 said :

    What makes me KNOW it is effective is my understanding of the self healing abilities of the human body. I look upon alternative medicine as natural means to help my body heal itself. Western medicine largely deals with symptom control otherwise known as alleviating the symptom but not addressing the cause. Concrete science takes allot of money to research and prove the efficacy. How can this be done with natural herbs or medicines that cannot be patented. Who will pay for these “scientific ” studies. Kevin Trudeau has an interesting book out that deals with this topic. it is one of the many I have read regarding this issue and I recommend it.

  5. [email protected] said :


    First, I would suggest you change your thinking pattern. ALL treatments, whether or not they involve drugs, supplements, herbs, exercise, medidation, crystals, homeopathic, or “typical Western medicine” are ALL “alternative”. In the Mid and Far East and in Africa, “Western medicine would be considered to be “alternative”. What determines your definition of “standard” and “alternative” depends on your point of origin and comparison.

    Even within the field of “typical Western medicine”, literally hundreds to thousands of alternatives exist. Most medications known to Western medicine are actually naturally occurring products from bacteria, fungi, plants, roots, flowers, leaves, animals, etc. Many “folk” remedies are the source of now standard and commonly used prescription drugs. For example, people who suffered from high blood pressure were told to chew on a bay leaf. Well, there is a natural substance in bay that is now marketed as a prescription anti-hypertensive drug. Also, the commonly used heart medicine Digoxin (used to treat irregular heart beat) is derived from a common “weed” known as foxglove. Famously, Penicillin, one of the wonder drugs in the entire history of medicine is derived from simple bread mold. As another person wrote you, Aspirin is derived from the bark of a particular tree. Curare, used to cause muscle paralysis during surgery, is a naturally occurring substance, as is Warfarin, used to prevent blood clotting.
    The point of this “lecture” is that what we in the U.S.A. consider to be “standard” medicines are rarely manufactured from nothing inside some sterile “mad scientist” laboratory. Most are based on naturally occurring substances found in the soil or from other living creatures. Chamomile tea has, for centuries, been known to help calm an excited person. Chamomile contains a natural “tranquilizer”. St. John’s Wort contains a substance which increases the blood and brain level of serotonin, as do many newer anti-depressants such as Prozac and its cousins. Turkey makes us sleepy because it contains a high level of one amino acid, tryptophan (which was marketed for a few years as a prescription sleeping aid).
    What Westerners typically consider “alternative” treatments, beyond herbal preparations, include things such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, aromatherapy, meditation, chanting, prayer, religious ritual, exorcism, visualization, guided sensory imaging, sensory deprivation, achieving “higher” levels of consciousness, use of crystals and healing stones, etc. Do these work? Yes, for a great many people, all across the world. If they didn’t provide some benefit, why would they have lasted thousands of years? How and why do they work? There are as many theories as there are alternative methods of treatment. Any method of increasing concentration and focus force our brains and bodies to make a choice. You cannot be both physically and mentally calm and nervously anxious and upset at the same time; it’s simply not possible. So, meditation, chanting, seeking “oneness” or enlightenment, prayer, ritual, etc., all put us in that “choice” mode. We cannot be focused and concentrate on peace, tranquility and reaching a “higher plane” and at the same time focus on our pain or misery, so we feel better. And, the more we practice these things, the better tools they become. As we become more calm and peaceful, our bodies and minds relax, which allows our own internal healing mechanisms to work more effectively, and have been shown to improve the overall functioning of the immune system.
    So, can we “think” our way to feeling better? Of course we can, since we can also “think” our way to feeling ill. Many people experience nausea, fluttery stomach, queasy feelings before a test, having to perform, or before doing something new to us. Yet, once we are into the test, performance, etc., our “bad” feelings and symptoms go away. Was there anything really “wrong” with us before the test? Yes, we were anxious and stressed. So why do we feel better when we dive in? Because we’ve made the choice, and now there’s no further need for the “defensive” device to “protect” us and it goes away. So, if we can literally make ourselves sick before something as simple as a school quiz or test because of the way we think, it makes perfect sense that changing our thinking pattern can make us feel better and not become “ill”. Whatever tool or method you use to achieve this, whether “standard” or “alternative” is probably of little importance. It is the choice to use “something” that permits us to feel better. How many times has your head stopped hurting immediately after taking a couple Tylenol? The medicine can’t possibly have even gotten into your bloodstream, so why does the headache go away? Because we “know” we’ve done “something” that will give us relief, and don’t need the warning symptom of pain that led us to take the tablets in the first place, so it stops. So, did we really need the Tylenol? My response would be, “Does it really matter? It worked, didn’t it?”. Could you have gotten the same result from prayer, herbal tea, or meditation? Certainly. So, which is the “standard” and which is the “alternative”?

  6. minx said :

    Hey Guys, Andromeda has it totally bagged, in a nutshell so to speak………….. I am absolutely astounded at his clarity and ability to so succinctly get his message across………. I mean to say, even the most dim witted of us should need no further encouragement to ditch the chemically obsessed, symptom eliminators of today?????

    …………. :0)


  7. Rev. Two Bears said :

    Because alternative medicine has helped me out of several different binds. Three incidents immediately leap to mind.

    1980; I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, and given 6 months to live.

    1996 I fell breaking two bones in my right foot and just about grinding my ankle into hamburger. Dr. Ahern suggested amputating the foot above the ankle, I still have my right foot and it is as strong as it ever was.

    1998 a tumor on my pituitary gland caused my pituitary gland to completelt shut down, and the doctor put me on life sustaining drugs, and told me that I would have to take those meds for the rest of my life. I placed an amethyst under my pillow and carried an amethyst in my pocket, Four years later I was able to take myself off those medications with their caustic side effects I did this very gradually; but it did happen.

  8. James said :

    Alternative medicine works for me. I take 900 milligrams of St. John’s Wort every day, and it really does help to prevent stress. Some people take it for depression. Who knows? It might work for depression too. Doctors don’t seem to have a pill that prevents depression 100 percent of the time. So, St. John’s Wort might help people with depression. I like St. John’s Wort because it doesn’t have any side effects. Almost all prescription drugs have side effects.

  9. chupalupa said :

    Evidence of effectiveness in a certain treatment is always subject to scrutiny. You hear of western medicine’s successes due to the abundance of available data (usually promoted by profit-oriented industry despite it’s effectiveness), along with accepted means of research. You rarely hear of alternative medicine’s successes because the data is not readily accepted by western medical advocates, the distributors of medicinal info, therefore not prone to as wide spread publication that is deemed trustworthy. If it’s not FDA approved, it’s considered bogus, even if it does posess some medicial value.

    There is also implication of competition between alternate treatments and the western med populous that stands to lose millions in traditional (and future) public investment. That’s not generally publicized but well known. Mostly, the lack of acceptable research evidence is a negative factor keeping the proper data on alternatives from wide spread publication. And there is plenty of bogus crap out there too that promotes predudice. But there is plenty of reliable info on the internet if you’re interested to do the fingerwork finding it.

    Concrete scientific evidence takes testing, and that takes time and money. Lots and Lots of money. And for many advocates of alternatives, that means many lives lost or negatively affected waiting for the American Journal of Medicine to say, “Hey, this really does work. Let’s spend another 20 years killing monkeys developing it into a time-release pill”. So most importantly, an interest by western researchers toward testing is the draw back.

    While it is true that many medicines have come from natural sources, plants mostly, there are far many more medicinals out there (plant and animal/insect species) already well known by indigenous groups as well as western alternate-affiliated groups who use them for their profound medicinal properties that have not been tapped by western interest. Most western med developement from medicinal plants (such as you mentioned, Asprin) started with research into source uses by indigenous peoples of the regions those sources came from – where the practices of what we deem alternate are common, as they’ve been for many generations (like say the bark made into tea for body aches that we now commonly know as Asprin in pill form).

    Medicinals and treatments are often backed by the history of effective use by the people who use it, and you won’t find that evidence published in Time without a western research foundation backing it. Such treatments often developed by their ancestors hundreds if not a thousand or more years prior and handed down through the generations. Timelines that vast using a product is not typically prone to ignorance of evidence toward medicinal reliability. In my ancestry, heart disease and Diabetes (though practically non-existent until the Spanish conquest) was and still is treated with what are now (and were then) common household pantry spices. The latest western medicinal research into such treatment reflects that these spices do have profoundly effective medicinal properties toward modern treatment for high cholesterol and diabetes. But of course more research should be done before you’ll hear more about it, and that takes lots of time and money as mentioned. And who has time for that when expensive cholesterol and blood pressure drugs and insulin for diabetes have been the norm (and source of great profit) for so long already. Meanwhile, I (and all those I’ve shared the obscure info with) have perfect blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels, and no signs of the diabetes I was born with despite eating what I want. If you like nasty side-effects of concretely researched and accepted western drugs, and the annoyances and expense of a treatment regimen, that’s your choice. Hurray for scientific journalism.

    In many cultures it’s the medicine man or woman who administers the treament, and too often western physicians scrap their use because of the ‘witch doctor’ scenarios that often accompany treatment. But who can blame them. The idea of a half naked man or woman in feathered ritual head gear murmering ancient tongue while waving a smudge stick around the patient’s head to clense the hut of bad animal spirits before administering the medicinal plant potion that will cure their ailment is not seductive to the ‘cleanly civilized’ proper white-coat mentality western thinking has been mounted onto like the crisp gold seal on a physicians framed and feather dusted training certificate. But one must understand that religious practices have always been indrenched into any culture’s medicinal efforts, and western medicine’s origins once shared in obscure religious rituals and old wive’s mis-informations from tabloidal church garb intertwined in it’s developement and adminitration. Hell, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that western physicians got the idea that washing their friggin hands before treating ‘the next patient’ might help save their life instead of contribute to their demise. But it wasn’t long before that physicians regarded illnesses as posession by the devil and administered prayer services, as well as torturous ones for the cure. But even some old-world ‘western’ ideas are being re-introduced these days (as yet still Alternative medicine). Take leeches and fly larvea for example. What was once deemed witch-doctory now has concrete medicinal value in modern treatment, and it’s positive uses are spreading fast.

    There are always risks involved trying alternative treatments. But the worst risk is in mis-information. So it’s important to do the homework, on the specific properties and side effects as well as proper uses of any product for treatment. And while you’re at it, get to know your own medical history (allergies, etc), as well as the background of therapists distributing those treatments before taking alternate courses. People offer horror stories of alternative treatments damaging their beings. But many naive people throw themselves into the hands of snake oilers out of desperation too (remember the apricot pit injections for Cancer in Mexico, and the magnetic bracelets still sold today for arthritis relief – who’s making that $20,000,000). Just like knowing what you’re getting into using traditional western methods of treatment, and knowing the training and ability (and history of liablility) of the western physician administering it. As alternates go, it helps if you’re already affiliated with certain cultures that use alternates, and have some knowledge or know people who do. But if you don’t, research is the key. Waiting for the medical associations to offer concrete scientific evidence on the other hand is like waiting for the oil mongers to tell us there is a brighter future in corn.

    The best evidence you’ll find that alternate meds, suppliments and treatments work is if you try them. Plenty are as effective as side-effect prone traditional products without the nasty effects. But be warned, there are lots of products available in and out of the US and Europe that are mis-labeled or all together bogus, and possibly hazardous (not all that is All Natural is good for you – take Arsenic for example…), like with plant products, there are many differing species within a species that are similar to the medicinal ones but potentially hazardous, and there are particular doses one must carefully weigh with certain products, and finding a reputable source for products and product info can be mind boggling for the impatient. But on the internet, it really only takes as much time and effort as it does finding a decent western doctor.

  10. kathy_is_a_nurse said :

    The problem with your question is that it lumps ALL alternative therapies under one umbrella. There have been many studies of specific alternative therapies that have shown them to be of value.

    But the researchers with the REALLY deep pockets are being funded by pharmaceutical companies that are looking for NEW treatments that they can patent. They have no vested interest in proving something that has been used for centuries, because it represents no financial benefit to them. People doing studies of alternative therapies find it difficult to get that kind of funding, so it just isn’t done as much.

    Bottom Line: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are very valuable alternative therapies out there. You just have to do your “due diligence.”


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