Friday, August 04, 2006

Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine

I'm nearly at a loss for something to write: you have shown a complete inability to read what I have said and even make sense of your own sources. You then try and shoehorn groundless ancient beliefs into science, and in doing so, show that you have no apreciation of the advances in thinking that have been made in the last few hundred years.

"Alternative medicine isnt medicine that hasnt been proven by science. As i pointed out in my last post, many aspects of alternative medicine have been proven by scientific method."

Everyone else in the world uses the word alternative medicine to describe treatments not accepted by science. I can't help what you may personally understand it to mean, but if I say I think black means white, it doesn't make it true. The word's meaning is still the same.

Google Definitions automatically compiles word meanings from their usage on the web. Looking for alternative medicines produces the following possible definitions:

    "...Alternative medicines share the common characteristic of nonacceptance by the biomedical (ie mainstream Western) establishment..."

    "any form of therapy used alone, without recommended standard/conventional treatment."

    "Any form of medicine or healing other than the type approved by medical doctors and hospitals..."

    "is a broad term for any diagnostic method, method of treatment or therapy whose theoretical bases and techniques diverge from generally accepted medical methods."

    "treatments and techniques that differ from mainstream medical practices."

People agree on what the word means. So that's what it means. When I wrote about alternative medicines, it was those I was talking about.

The homeopathy article you link to doesn't say that homeopathy works. It basically says that there are no clear results, but there is a suggestion that it's worthy of more study. That's hardly reason for me to go out and take all the homeopathy I can find.

The writer of your article about oranges helping cancer also has reservations:
"Yes, limonin can help, but drinking seven glasses of juice a day isn't really practical. But oranges are a great source of a lot of different chemicals, and people should definitely have them as part of their diet."

So, she's not saying that this is a miracle cure, just examining the properties of a chemical, like all chemists do. She also admits that things are more complicated than just this one chemical, and that you should just eat a healthy balanced diet, which is something all of us know.

"The othe thing thats mising is the double blind bit, some medicines will no doubt will be so effective that they can be seen to be working beyond the placebo effect."

No. Without a control group, any attempt to prove the effectiveness of a treatment would be useless. Surely you can see that? I bet I could persuade a group of people that water cures cancer if I wanted, but it doesn't make it true, except in your eyes. Read this for some astounding clinical results from doing absolutely nothing.

"Other medicines might stimulate the placebo effect, such as blood letting and accupuncture, but the still have an effect."

Do you want your doctor to prescribe a placebo to you? I wouldn't. Blood letting is known to be harmful, so surely any placebo effect is countered by the actual damage it does?

"These types of alternative medicine represent thousands of years of trial and error, just like the double blind studies we do today."

Again, by equating those things, you're missing the point of what a double blind study actually is.

"How about the acid and alkaline balance as the modern equlivalent of yin and yang. Acids in foods, proteins and alchohols need to be balanced with alkaline minerals such as magnesium and calcium."

But that's not what Chinese medicine says. Yin and Yang applies in chinese medicine to any opposing forces, you're just suggested two opposing chemicals that really do exist - how does that validate Chinese medicine? You're just shoehorning it in.

"Particularly since your mum is a reflexology practicioner, i would have thought you would be more open."

What sort of argument is this? You should believe in it because your parents do? Surely you can do better than that. My parents don't tell me what to believe.

"By writing that saying alternative medicine has any benefits is being politically correct, you are implicitly saying that alternative medicine is groundless, crap."

I'm pretty much given up hope that you read what I'm writing, but I never said that. What I said was that doctors should be able to discount treatment which have been proven to have no effect.

Here's a quote from my very first post, at the bottom of this page:
"Don't get me wrong, there are many things medical science has yet to learn, and I'm sure some alternative treatments have a strong grounding in fact which we have yet to discover, but many are pure rubbish."

Now, where does it say that all alternative medicine is rubbish? Nowhere, that's where.

If doctors are pressured to accept treatments which have been proved false, we could end up in the dark ages. However, we should always keep an open mind about discovering new medicines, and investigating their effects in a scientific way. Once they've been investigated we'll know whether there's any truth to their effects, and whether they have any negative ones to go with it. Some will work, but many will not. However, accepting treatments because they've been performed for thousands of years, or because it will balance your yin with your yang, is dangerous.

Oh - and personal attacks will get you nowhere.