Alternative Medicine - The Quest For Evidence Part 2 of 4
Posted Sep 28 2008 5:55pm
Most medical practitioners fear that patients searching for alternative medicine believe the natural medicine will cure their problem where no evidence shows the effectiveness of the medicine.
Skeptics suppose that alternative medicine is ‘magical thinking’ and only practiced by the untrained. In return, alternative practitioners are utilizing clinical trials and studies to prove themselves to the conventional medical community especially in herbal medicine and homeopathy.
The Success Of Homeopathy
Homeopathy research has shown for example that herbal remedies can cure bouts of diarrhea but the bizarre Chinese remedy for solving breech births by burning a herb on a pregnant woman’s toe has yet to be scientifically proven although, strangely enough it did work in most cases.
The preferred method of gaining evidence of alternative medicine in western medical research is the controlled trial. They begin by determining the safety of the treatment. Once cleared it is given to one set of subjects whilst a ‘placebo’ or fake treatment is given to the another set to analyze the effects. Such trials have shown acupuncture can lessen nausea and after several sessions homeopathic remedies can reduce hay fever.
Are The Medicines Reliable?
Some researcher believe that most people’s health improves because they believe they are taking something to make them feel better. The UK Research Council for Complementary Medicine is collecting a database of reliable evidence that includes clinical and anecdotal evidence.
Is There More Harm Than Good?
If it’s natural is must be safe! Not necessarily. Dr Monckton of the UK Research Council highlights even acupuncture if used incorrectly can be harmful as can the Chinese herbs. Some of herbs can lead to liver damage, some of the oils can trigger peanut allergies, Tree Oil can cause dermatitis and Ephedra has been linked to 155 deaths.
The Future of Alternative Medicine
There is a place for alternative medicine not just in society but alongside conventional medicine. If there is a proven benefit the medical community may be happy to suggest it but with lack of evidence with most medicines it will be a long time before a conventional doctor will prescribe an hour of prayer, a half hour of tantric healing finished off with a sprinkling of ash over your lower abdomen.