Alternative Medicine. What is Alternative Medicine? How can there be an alternative to medicine? Is there alternative chemistry, alternative physics, biology?. Alternative Medicine Defined.
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1. When Talking about Nutrients, They Tell Only Part of the Story.
2. They Claim That Most Americans Are Poorly Nourished.
3. They Recommend "Nutrition Insurance" for Everyone.
4. They Say That Most Diseases Are Due to Faulty Diet
and Can Be Treated with "Nutritional" Methods.
5. They Allege That Modern Processing Methods and
Storage Remove all Nutritive Value from Our Food.
6. They Claim That Diet Is a Major Factor in Behavior.
7. They Claim That Fluoridation Is Dangerous.
8. They Claim That Soil Depletion and the Use of Pesticides and
"Chemical" Fertilizers Result in Food That Is Less Safe and Less Nourishing.
9. They Claim You Are in Danger of Being "Poisoned"
by Ordinary Food Additives and Preservatives.
10. They Charge That the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) Have Been Set Too Low.
11. They Claim That under Everyday Stress, and in Certain Diseases, Your Need for Nutrients Is Increased.
12. They Recommend "Supplements" and "Health Foods" for Everyone.
13. They Claim That "Natural" Vitamins are Better than "Synthetic" Ones.
14. They Suggest That a Questionnaire Can Be Used
to Indicate Whether You Need Dietary Supplements.
15. They Say It Is Easy to Lose Weight.
16. They Promise Quick, Dramatic, Miraculous Results.
17. They Routinely Sell Vitamins and Other
"Dietary Supplements" as Part of Their Practice.
18. They Use Disclaimers Couched in Pseudomedical Jargon.
19. They Use Anecdotes and Testimonials to Support Their Claims.
20. They Claim That Sugar Is a Deadly Poison.
21. They Display Credentials Not Recognized
by Responsible Scientists or Educators.
22. They Offer to Determine Your Body's Nutritional State with a Laboratory Test or a Questionnaire.
23. They Claim They Are Being Persecuted by Orthodox Medicine and That Their Work Is Being Suppressed Because It's Controversial.
24. They Warn You Not to Trust Your Doctor.
25. They Encourage Patients to Lend Political
Support to Their Treatment Methods.
"We really care about you!"
Although being "cared about" may provide a powerful psychological lift, it will not make a worthless remedy effective. It may also encourage over-reliance on an inappropriate therapy.
"We treat the whole patient."
There is nothing wrong with giving due attention to a patient's lifestyle and social and emotional concerns in addition to physical problems. In fact, good physicians have always done this. Today, however, most practitioners who label themselves "holistic" are engaged in quackery and embrace the term as a marketing tool. Few actually "treat the whole patient."
"No side effects"
"Alternative" methods are often described as safer, gentler, and/or without side effects. If this were true -- and often it is not -- their "remedy" would be too weak to have any effect. Any medication potent enough to help people will be potent enough to cause side effects. FDA approval requires evidence that the likelihood of benefit far exceeds the probable harm.
"We attack the cause of disease."
Quacks claim that whatever they do will not only cure the ailment but will also prevent future trouble. This claim is false. Illness can result from many factors, both internal and external, some of which have been identified and some of which are unknown. Scientific medical care can prevent certain diseases and reduce the odds of getting various others.
"We treat medicine's failures."
It is often suggested that people seek "alternatives" because doctors are brusque, and that if doctors were more attentive, their patients would not turn to quacks. It is true that this sometimes happens, but most quackery does not involve medical care. Blaming doctors for quackery's persistence is like blaming astronomers for the popularity of astrology. Some people's needs exceed what ethical, scientific health care can provide. Some harbor deep-seated antagonism toward medical care and the concept of a scientific method. But the main reason for quackery's success is its ability to seduce people who are unsuspecting, gullible, or desperate. Several years ago, a survey done in New Zealand found that most cancer patients who used "alternative" therapies were satisfied with their medical care and regarded "alternative" care only as a supplement . A more recent study found that only 4.4% of those surveyed reported relying primarily on alternative therapies. The author concluded:
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1. Remember that quackery seldom looks outlandish.
Its promoters often use scientific terms and quote (or misquote) from scientific references. Some actually have reputable scientific training but have gone astray.
2. Ignore any practitioner who says that most diseases are caused by faulty nutrition or can be remedied by taking supplements.
Although some diseases are related to diet, most are not. Moreover, in most cases where diet actually is a factor in a person's health problem, the solution is not to take vitamins but to alter the diet.
3. Be wary of anecdotes and testimonials.
If someone claims to have been helped by an unorthodox remedy, ask yourself and possibly your doctor whether there might be another explanation. Most single episodes of disease recover with the passage of time, and most chronic ailments have symptom-free periods. Most people who give testimonials about recovery from cancer have undergone effective treatment as well as unorthodox treatment, but give credit to the latter. Some testimonials are complete fabrications.
4. Be wary of pseudomedical jargon.
Instead of offering to treat your disease, some quacks will promise to "detoxify" your body, "balance" its chemistry, release its "nerve energy," or "bring it in harmony with nature," or to correct supposed "weaknesses" of various organs. The use of concepts that are impossible to measure enables success to be claimed even though nothing has actually been accomplished.
5. Don't fall for paranoid accusations.
Unconventional practitioners often claim that the medical profession, drug companies, and the government are conspiring to suppress whatever method they espouse. No evidence to support such a theory has ever been demonstrated. It also flies in the face of logic to believe that large numbers of people would oppose the development of treatment methods that might someday help themselves or their loved ones.
6. Forget about "secret cures."
True scientists share their knowledge as part of the process of scientific development. Quacks may keep their methods secret to prevent others from demonstrating that they don't work. No one who actually discovered a cure would have reason to keep it secret. If a method works-especially for a serious disease-the discoverer would gain enormous fame, fortune and personal satisfaction by sharing the discovery with others.
7. Be wary of herbal remedies.
Herbs are promoted primarily through literature based on hearsay, folklore and tradition. As medical science developed, it became apparent that most herbs did not deserve good reputations, and most that did were replaced by synthetic compounds that are more effective. Many herbs contain hundreds or even thousands of chemicals that have not been completely cataloged. While some may turn out to be useful, others could well prove toxic. With safe and effective treatment available, treatment with herbs rarely makes sense.
8. Be skeptical of any product claimed to be effective against a wide range of unrelated diseases-particularly diseases that are serious.
There is no such thing as a panacea or "cure-all."
One of quackery's most powerful appeals is the suggestion to "think for yourself" instead of following the collective wisdom of the scientific community. A similar appeal is the idea that although a remedy has not been proven to work for other people, it still might work for you.
10. Don't let desperation cloud your judgment!
If you feel that your doctor isn't doing enough to help you, or if you have been told that your condition is incurable and don't wish to accept this fate without a struggle, don't stray from scientific health care in a desperate attempt to find a solution. Instead, discuss your feelings with your doctor and consider a consultation with a recognized expert.
1. The disease may have run its natural course.
2. Many diseases are cyclical.
3. The placebo effect may be responsible.
4. People who hedge their bets credit the wrong thing.
5. The original diagnosis or prognosis may have been incorrect.
6. Temporary mood improvement can be confused with cure.
7. Psychological needs can distort what people perceive and do.