Unproven Medicine : An Alternative Name for Alternative Medicine
Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 06:51 AM EDT
â€œAlternative and complimentary therapiesâ€. They sound so nice. So warm and fuzzy. Surely they augment the cold clinical scientific approach to regular medicine, and have a more holistic approach catering to the soul and spirit as well as the flesh?
I argue not. Hear out my logicâ€¦
Any treatment that has proven to provide reliable benefit, is automatically added to the canon of â€˜westernâ€™ medicine. Therefore the only treatments left available for â€˜alternativeâ€™ to claim, are those that are unproven, or worse, treatments known to be actively harmful.
Promoters of alternative medicine will argue that western medicine is still woefully weak, and not tuned into holistic and spiritual matters and that such things defy proof. This is clearly claptrap. If you do a well designed double-blind, placebo-controlled test of an â€˜alternative therapyâ€™ and the outcomes are no better that for the placebo, then the participants who got the treatment are no better off, spirit or no spirit.
I personally prefer the sort of benefits that can be detected!
How did this situation come to pass, where unproven medications have such a grip?
I think there are three main ingredients:
I think that people who understand this do a disservice to our communities by giving this bad medicine the label â€˜alternativeâ€™ or â€˜complimentaryâ€™, so I would like to propose the term â€˜unproven medicineâ€™. I would however welcome some more lyrical suggestions!
This article originally appeared on The Provincial Scientist.