These days alternative medicine has become mainstream. People who never would have considered something “holistic” before are more open to the idea, even if they don’t follow the therapy. Many hospitals have dietary supplements on their list of stocked medications, make reiki masters available to cancer patients or teach medical students how to manipulate healing energies.
In fact, 42% of hospitals make some form of alternative therapy available to patients. This comes from a survey conducted in 2010 that included 5,800 facilities, and when asked why, the hospitals replied “patient demand”. Private practitioners suggest megavitamins, dietary supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and naturopathy. It’s true that there is value to these treatments, but there are also times when a line is crossed… when unsubstantiated promises are made and unattainable goals promoted.
Here are five sure signs that the therapy you’re considering might be quackery.
1. You’re offered medicines that don’t work in place of drugs that have proven useful to many other patients with your condition. Anyone who has nothing but negative things to say about prescription drugs or traditional medicine is too one sided, skilled professionals in alternative medicine want you to take advantage of all forms of treatment. A heartbreaking example of this is Steve Jobs who didn’t have the traditional (surgery) treatment, that has a 95% cure rate, choosing acupuncture, herbal remedies and bowel cleansings, and dying as a result of his illness.
2. You hear nothing about the dangers or side effects of a therapy. We often think of alternative medicine as more natural and therefore less dangerous than the traditional kind. But a medication is a medication and any drug/therapy that has a positive effect can also have a negative effect. The example here is the deaths of 86 people who have died when acupuncture needles have lodged in the wrong place or been the mode of transmission for a virus. Chiropractic manipulations have killed at least 26, all by ripping the vertebral artery that’s located in the neck. Supplements can cause trouble too, and what’s worse, aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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5 Ways To Identify Alternative Medicine From Quackery Continued…
3. The therapist is making money; you’re not getting better. Parents of children
with autism, or patients with chronic Lyme disease or cancer often are victims
of questionable treatments like ion exchange machines, lymphatic drainage massage,
electrical or magnetic stimulation, oxygen chambers, intravenous immunoglobulins
and stem cell transplants. What they all share is the cost, and the chance of
really working… which is zero.
4. The therapy promotes “magical thinking” and appeals to our sense of magic, but in truth has no evidence that backs it. Any therapy that claims healing can “only” come from that one therapy should sound a warning. A treatment that ground breaking would make news and be used by everyone if it worked as well as the seller claims.
5. The therapy needs to be held to the same high standards of safety and effectiveness as a traditional treatment. If research hasn’t been done, don’t offer your body as the subject of study without being very sure of what you’re signing up for, and the risks to you.
Those who have a serious disease will do better to look at approaches that make the best of both, traditional and alternative treatments, to manage their condition. Staying informed and asking questions of your healthcare team are also important parts of treating, and surviving, any disease.
To your good health,