Talk:Alternative medicine

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This Alternative medicine related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement.

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This seems like a "market driven" definition: If the insurance companies won't pay for it, it's outside of mainstream (Western) medicine and therefore alternative. ~~ CЯacke® 16:37, 8 July 2007 (CDT)

It's really an enormous topic, but i enjoy the humorous start. Really, everything is alternative until it is proved. However, there are some things that are more or less obvious, and some things that are not alternative that ins won't pay for. Also, it depends on where you live. The Europeans try all kinds of voodoo.--PalMD-Goatspeed! 16:41, 8 July 2007 (CDT)
I have added some structure, text, and a few examples. I know most of these examples are probably blue links on here but I'm too lazy to chase them down right now. Also, I figure Doc could rip through this list from memory and do a better job than I. humanbe in 17:38, 23 July 2007 (CDT)
I have to agree with the good doctor here. A lot of drug discovery particularly in the earlier days of medicine was sort of by chance. ŠтΈṜȳŁЁand...? 08:36, 1 August 2007 (CDT)

Alt Med v Pseudo-Med?:

Ditto on seems like a "market driven" definition, but more than that, and we will get into that..

As others have suggested from several angles, it would be more accurate to clarify the differences between 'Alternative Medicine' and 'Pseudo-Medicine'(?) The gist of the 'Alt Med' intro seems to describe the latter more than it conveys the distinction between inauthenticated, 'unproven' but effective medicine and pseudo-medicine. It also neglects to include or synthesize in the historical existence of medical practices which were formerly 'scientifically proven' or legitimized common practice; and by extension, recognition that this is a process of adjustment 'on both ends' that will continue. I suggest some combination of points made in the below rough (with supportive documentation), along with a respectively edited inclusion of the introduction published under this heading qualifying a distinction between Alternative Medicine as a recognized form of effective medicine and Pseudo-Medicine, and 'splitting' that off from there.

I'm pretty sure the term in question ('Alternative Medicine') was created by practitioners, not by shock-jock spin-doctors who most likely first used this term in a derogatory sense. A Rationalwikians or two may have picked up the derogatory use and negative perception of its meaning for other reasons, yet probably have been to the chiropractor and ranted at, not on, the radio. The anti-intellectual spin-doctors ranting about imposters have probably been to a chiropractor if not a masseuse; they are practitioners of the 'soft' Art of Communication (an Art generally pseudo-discredited most vociferously by precisely these Masters of said Arts) and take glee in bashing and otherwise attempting to undermine the credibility of anyone (ie 'tree-hugger' pocket-protector global warming boobs and Quasimodo feminazi ivory tower lifers with electrical tape holding their bifocals together) I mean anyone who DOES (relatively speaking) voice real physical world concerns representing good science; anyone whose terminologies constitute obstacles to the continued temporary maintenance of an ignorant cultural 'environment' which is ...lucrative, and satisfying for bullies. These Masters of Deceit emote and promote something other than a genuine interest in truth or facts relevant to topics they ostensibly discuss -such as medicine.

The term 'Alternative Medicine' indicates a hierarchy, much as 'alternative spirituality' does. The affect is conveyed by analogy to another term which belies a similar hierarchy; embedded in the term 'reverse prejudice' are a lot of hierarchical presumptions: that those whose prejudices are the 'reverse' of the 'prejudice' occupying the supreme position in that hierarchy are 'reactive' rather than pro-active; they are subject to prejudice, their prejudice is a response to their position, and those whose prejudices are 'supreme' in that hierarchy are not subject to 'reverse prejudice' so much as the position of those with 'reverse prejudice' is subject to inauthentic' prejudice; those with 'reverse prejudice' are inauthentic and their prejudice is inauthenticated; their prejudice is subject to their position as 'subject to' rather than subject to their independent character and autonomy; they have no character, authenticity, autonomy, or genuine point of view; their prejudice is impure; the prejudice of those in the supreme position is authentic and 'pure prejudice... which leads to ... compound 'reverse' prejudices.

The term 'alternative medicine' follows in that line of 'compound reverse prejudice'. Depending on how you look at it, it legitimizes or de-legitimizes; it 'named' authentic practitioners of medicine into a low status position, but a position, in a hierarchy; for authentic independent practitioners, adopting this title represents genuflection to the relativity of their independence and for many if not most, a genuine frustration with arbitrary and counterproductive barriers of questionable authenticating agencies and institutions, barriers to validation, barriers to the their practice and sound improvements to common medical practices more than anything resembling an anti-science motive or opportunistic inclination toward acquisitiveness.

Surely, there is an aspect or element involved in the practice or pseudo-practice of 'Alternative Medicine' which (as the name may -at a stretch- be construed to imply) might argue and might have a very good point in arguing that the term denotes not merely a place somewhere on the ever-shifting continuum, range or scale of experimental-to-effective medical science (alluded to in the quote under the title here) but also connotes the suggestion of mutual exclusivity in some cases, between a form of 'Alternative Medicine' and some form of 'Mainstream'/ 'status quo'/ 'conventional' or possibly even scientifically validated & legalized medicine.

This may represent nefarious agendas in the case of pseudo-med masqueraders, but more importantly for those concerned with accuracy and genuine practitioners of effective medicine falling under the umbrella of 'Alt-Med', the suggestion of mutual exclusivity conveys recognition of the fact that a form of Alt-Med may and sometimes does represent not just complimentary but more effective medicine/science than some form or corresponding form of the 'other' that it calls into question. This legitimized 'other' form does sometimes not represent effective r the best medicine regardless of whether it has been 'scientifically proven' or legally legitimized; it may be relatively ineffectual, its practices may become obsolete due to recognition, advancement, scientific verification and legal legitimization of 'alternative' medicine; it possibly should be or in fact has been Lobotomized from the current body of 'Independently' Verified, Acceptable, Legal practice in Medicine; whatever.

A case in point somewhere on the continuum between the aforementioned continuum and the dead end of dead science non-science nonsense is represented by omission as well as commission in the September 30, 2013 special issue of Harvard's Journal of Law Medicine and Ethics, which is dedicated to 'Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Industry'.[1]

The omission relevant to 'Alternative Medicine' I refer to is notable upon quick review of all titles in that issue's table of contents; not one article delves directly into a 'validating' academic or scientific inquiry into what is neglected or quite effectively 'left out' when the pharmaceutical industry has an overwhelming influence on medical practitioners: 'alternatives' to pharmaceuticals (never-mind 'supplements'), such as an overwhelming academic focus on how, aside from pharmaceutical intervention or prevention, medical practitioners do or might effectively and more powerfully focus their practices on therapeutic and 'prescriptive' prevention and treatment of physical and mental illness.

This could refer to doctors composing seethingly polite letters to politicians and governmental agency representatives about re-funding public education -which might explain the waiting room waits, but would definitely address key variables of health which are rarely given more than lip service in patient experiences of the more lengthily credentialed non-alternative medical practitioners' doctors' office visits.

In contrast, genuine, self-respecting 'Alternative Medicine' practitioners are by definition if not constitutionally more apt to focus on and prioritize these 'coincidentally' least monopolized variables: namely, food and physical activity. These involve touch, manipulation and exercise and nutrition, include but are not limited to midwifery, massage, yoga, soccer, chiropractors, dandelions and masonry (not necessarily in that order). Dangerous activities like the corrupt influence of insurance companies and fear-mongering TV news stations advocating (whether by suggestion or default) that we protect ourselves and our children from real -and more importantly, imagined dangers, such as playing, and jumping fences and running through the backyards of our neighborhoods, specifically, the backyards of our well-armed neighbors -which is especially good for growing bones, might also be taken into consideration here.

This list of health variables that 'Alternative Meds' practitioners necessarily and by design tend to prioritize over pharmaceuticals (and to an extent, dangerous invasive and oft palliative(?) 'cosmetic' procedures) in market -excuse me, marked contrast to credentialed medical practitioners, might reasonably be extended to include social and environmental conditions; things like 'nurture'; productive 'talk therapy'; and the sin of soda pop and cheese doodles qualifying for payment with food stamps, but not joint-juice, food-based multi-vitamins, agricultural crop seeds, giant trampolines, baby chicks, non-psychotropic edible mushroom spores, guano or goose poop fertilizer.

Part of the problem in taking 'Alternative Medicine' seriously has to do with the empirical difficulty and capital barriers to quantifying, measuring and accessibly 'statisticalizing' many real or potential aspects of its effectiveness. The importance of this understatement is evident in the relative ease with which, for example, the relatively well-established manufacturers of theoretically nutritious and apparently medically sound food products like 'food' that intelligent cats, insects and even the dumbest microbes won't touch for decades, manage to legalize and institutionalize the exchange of such items for food stamps on a nationwide basis. This is to say nothing of one logical extension of such insanity; the institution of that '50 cents on the dollar' exchange of food stamps for 'legal' pharmaceuticals, which is even more lucrative for 'legitimate' medical practitioners, pharmacists, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and more so than for street peddlers.

  1. Link text, additional text.

--Greeneggs (talk) 20:30, 23 June 2014 (UTC)


[edit] Ancient Ages--

Human--"ancient ages" is meaninglessly vague and ignores the fact that these practices are still common in many parts of the world. My version pointed to that fact and opened up the article to deal with the fact that Western science is but one model of understanding and dealing with health issues--I'm not saying alternative medicine is good, but they are "valid" within their own social/cultural contexts--many of which have longer histories than does Western medicine. PFoster 17:50, 26 November 2008 (EST)

Weird, I don't even remember making that edit - seriously. I decapped alternative, I remember that. I wonder if we had a twisted edit conflict? Ah, yes, definitely, an unflagged EC caused it. Your argument is with that Thunder person ;), not me. ħumanUser talk:Human 18:35, 26 November 2008 (EST)
Yeah--I thought it was weird that you would revert me like that. PFoster 18:37, 26 November 2008 (EST)
Ok, thanks for correcting me. The present version looks good. --Thunder Machine 09:19, 6 December 2008 (EST)


I personally think that having 2 banners is over the top and does look amateur hour, cause it reminds me of the days when people *insisted* on putting those "this site is still under construction" when the site was up, though not perfect. (as if any site would ever be perfect, but I digress). One, however, looks like humor. It mimics the "warning, content should be viewed by immature minds only", or "This article is contested by members of this wiki", etc.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«Her intense and pure religiousness took the form of her having equal faith in the existence of another world and in the impossibility of comprehending it in terms of earthly life. V.Nabokov» 10:35, 17 February 2009 (EST)

They look fine to me... ħumanUser talk:Human 16:23, 17 February 2009 (EST)

[edit] Pseudomedicine

The term "alternative medicine" sort-of legitimises these practices as a form of "medicine". Wouldn't it be better to describe them, especially the more fanciful ones, as "pseudomedicine"? - I.e. they're purporting to be medicine, but they lack any firm medical basis (cf pseudoscience). WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 11:49, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Interesting point, but "alternative medicine" is the established term whether you're for it or not Unless you fancy a crusade to alter peoples perceptions and get the whole "It's still egit, it's just not mainstream" attitude changed. Scarlet A.pngtheist 12:22, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

[edit] NGM

Should New German Medicine go in the Inefficatious or Dangerous list? I'm not familiar with it but the Dangerous list should be reserved for things that are hazardous to life and limb in their own right. Secret Squirrel 12:40, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

True I guess. It's dangerous in that it's presented as a viable treatment for cancer and thus indirectly contributes to the deaths of any who choose it in favour of conventional treatment. WéáśéĺóíďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:21, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
After a cancer diagnosis - which is often wrong due to the "early diagnosis" trend - the deadly conclusion may come from two sides: the cancer or the treatment (chemo, radio, amputations...). It is known that most cancers stagnate or clear if left untreated (see here, here and here), in which case treatment is a clear disadvantage. The choice between treatment (offical medicine) and lack of it (alternative medicine) is not as clear cut as you pretend. (talk) 12:47, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
True but that can be true about any alternative medicine if somebody uses it as a substitute for real medicine. I'm thinking more in terms of things that pose an imminent danger to life and health no matter what context they are done, like drilling a hole in ones head or taking cyanide compounds. Secret Squirrel 15:27, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

[edit] Is this page going to be a list, an article, or both?

Sorry if this is a stupid newb question. But this page so far seems to be more based around the idea of it being a list of different alt-medicines with their own article.

Since almost every different alternative medicine has it's own pet theories of how it works, which "studies" have been done, etc.; should this as just become an article explaining the reasons people fall these scams. Including which cognitive biases and logical fallacies that are usually employed by hucksters to get people to fall for it, using examples and the like. Possibly having a section that explains the difference between not-yet-proven-but-studied alternative medicine, and water that will cure your cancer.

There are many aspects of bullshit alt-medicines are are almost universal among them: suppression, shoddy if any research, incredible unproven claims, use of fallacious reasoning to sell by the huckster and by the buyer into believing. Do others agree that it would be more conductive to have this page dedicated to explaining those and other concepts and have a separate page that is the actual list of different alt-medicines?

I am more than happy to do most of the legwork for this, but it's a large change so I figured I would ask others to see what they think. EWildman (talk) 00:23, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Well we split pseudoscience and lists of pseudosciences so would make sense to me. Tmtoulouse (talk) 01:21, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

[edit] Scientifically proven

I'm pretty dubious about this first line "Alternative medicine is any medical treatment that hasn't been scientifically proven to be effective." since that's not generally the definition cause some (massage, meditation, and cinninom) methods of healing teh body are scientifically proven. but they are not mainstream or "medicine". We even admit that in our list...--Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 21:14, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

[edit] What I cut

section "theory" Alternative medicine tends not to fare well in proper medical trials — and if it does, it tends to join proper medicine. Common arguments in its favor include appeal to tradition, preferably in the thousands of years. Much alt-med theory tends to have vitalism at its philosophical core. Comment: I'm not sure what "theory" is supposed to be, other than perhaps the theory behind why this woo does or does not work? I'll try to work this in somewhere else.--Pink mowse.pngEn attendant Godot 18:49, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

[edit] Jim Henson died from pneumonia

Why is an anecdote in the article?--Krejtalk 00:12, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Presumably because of a perceived connection with alternative medicine? But Christian Science isn't quite the same thing & isn't covered within this article, + accounts of his illness & whether he avoided treatment seem to vary (going by the WP article). I suggest taking the anecdote out. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 23:26, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

[edit] Kinds of alternative medicine

OK, so there's

  • Proven palliative effect
  • Potentially provable
  • Benign
  • Somewhat benign, occasionally dangerous
  • Inefficacious
  • Dangerous

What's the difference between "benign" and "inefficacious"?--Krejtalk 20:20, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

How about this?

  • Proven palliative effect
  • Potentially provable
  • Useless
  • Benign
  • Dangerous

--Krejtalk 19:11, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

[edit] Chemotherapy, the definitioon of Insanity

Chemotherapy, under your definition, would be pretty dangerous. Based on the this paper that compares the 5 year survival, in most cases chemo is usually worse than the placebo effect! Nearly all cancers respond on less than a 5% rate, nearly half of all cancers don't respond AT ALL! Isn't it time to put this medieval practice out of business where it obviously does not work? Isn't this the classical definition of INSANITY? Reference: The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies, Clinical Oncology (2004) 16: 549e560 doi:10.1016/j.clon.2004.06.007 — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Your reference does not support your claim. Zero (talk) 14:13, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Looking at the link, the conclusion of this eight-year-old study was: "CONCLUSION: As the 5-year relative survival rate for cancer in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required."
So in that particular study the difference seems to be surprisingly small (unless I'm missing something) however it would be interesting to see if the bulk of the more recent medical literature supported this individual study.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:45, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Go look but you'll never find a chemo-vs-placebo controlled trial in the literature. The treatment is not evidence-based, a.k.a. Voodoo. (talk) 12:25, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
That study is one of the things covered in this post. Some of its flaws have been described in the post, including a quote from a letter published in the journal criticizing the study.
Also, by the turtles of Tasman, why are you discussing the efficacy of chemotherapy on the talk page of Alternative medicine?--ZooGuard (talk) 16:08, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Alt med fans love the placebo effect, because the only lesson they take from it is "the body can heal itself without drugs". Frederick♠♣♥♦ 21:59, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

[edit] From a friend who's into all this

"For the past few years I have had all the symptoms of osteo arthritis in my hips, particularly the left hip (now completely worn away, I have just found out). I have been on numerous (and I mean numerous!) occasions to osteopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, shiatsu, massage, acupuncture and Bowen therapists and none of them twigged it. If I'd have had an x-ray years ago I could've done a fair few things to allay the situation. I feel very let down." If that doesn't say it all... (talk) 10:11, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

[edit] Improper identification of Evidence Based Medicine with current medical practices.

The defintion given:

Alternative medicine is any medical treatment that is not part of conventional evidence-based medicine

is accurate, however, the following statement piggybacks the definition:

such as one would learn in medical school, nursing school or even paramedic training

Which is untrue.

  • The need for Evidence Based Medicine was pointed out by Archibald Cochrane in his 1971 publication Effectiveness and Efficiency where he strongly criticized the lack of evidence behind many of the commonly accepted healthcare interventions.
  • Toward the end of the 1980s, a group at RAND showed that large proportions of procedures performed by physicians were considered inappropriate even by the standards of their own experts.
  • The first proposal to reform teaching of the practice of medicine was made as recently as 1992 by Guyatt and others.
  • In the year 2000 the situation had not improved much, Toby Litman from Westerhope Medical Group noted: "there is much evidence showing that research evidence reaches everyday practice slowly".

To a great extent medical practice is still today dominated by tradition, authority and personal beliefs of physicians, fitting RationalWiki's definition of "Alternative Medicine". (talk) 12:16, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

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