The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Friday, October 27, 2006

Alternative medicine in question

Here's a really good discussion at Respectful Insolence about research on alternative medicine. I'm on agnostic on what part of NIH should fund this research, but as far as I'm concerned, once studies on a treatment or intervention rises to the level of evidence required for conventional therapies, it's no longer "alternative."

What is the practical difference between alternative and conventional therapies, anyway? I think the main distinction is in how they are treated by our irrational, two-tiered regulatory system, in which once something falls into the category of dietary supplements it's no longer subject to regulation at all, absent herculean efforts to demonstrate their dangers, as we saw with ephedra.

More importantly, how do we get consumers to understand the issue? Many consumers have evolved a similar two-tier response to things we put in our bodies: they assume that if something's natural, or simply a dietary supplement, it must be inherently safe, whereas if it's a prescription drug, some pharmaceutical company is trying to profit, so the standards of proving safety are higher. If they can appreciate that (and I could be overestimating that understanding), why is it so hard to see the profit motives in the supplement and alternative medicine industries? I would love to see data on marketing strategies for alternative medicine, if anyone knows about it. I imagine they involve a certain amount of brainwashing; specifically, they'd like us to think that Western scientific criteria simply don't apply to homeopathy, acupuncture, etc., and if alternative therapies become subject to regulation, big government is trying to take away our access.

I'd love to hear from readers about this.



7 Comments:

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Joi said...

Many consumers have evolved a similar two-tier response to things we put in our bodies: they assume that if something's natural, or simply a dietary supplement, it must be inherently safe, whereas if it's a prescription drug, some pharmaceutical company is trying to profit, so the standards of proving safety are higher.

I agree with you. But some prescription drugs also have bad effects so its better be the natural way. If you are interested with Natural Health News you visit Dr. Mercola's site.

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger Emily DeVoto said...

Well, that's just it. If they BOTH have equally bad effects, why is natural better? That's what I'm trying to understand.

 
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At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

Some interesting alternative medicine reviews can be found here

Consumer opinions on Alternative Medicine


Check out my blog discussing some interesting aspects of Alternative medicine
Alternative Medicine Commentary

Regards,

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Phil said...

I would suggest that natural supplements would be the preferred method. But that does always mean that natural healing methods are completely safe. The user must consider possible interaction with other medications and his current health situation.

 
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