science-and-alternative-medicineThe scientific validity of alternative treatments is still a hotly contested issue, with some studies showing good results, some inconclusive, and some therapies never subjected to scientific tests. To be convinced of the value of alternative medicine, doctors demand the kind of clinical trials their own treatments are judged by, including a clear definition and diagnosis of the condition being treated. In one type of trial, those being given treatment are split into two randomly chosen groups, one to be given a genuine treatment, the other a placebo. The results of both treatments are carefully noted, allowances are made for errors in procedure and coincidence. If enough of those getting genuine treatment show measurable improvement, treatment is said to be effective. Some of those given a placebo also show improvement as the placebo effect is very powerful. So clinical trials do not guarantee effectiveness. Even when the overall findings are favourable, some patients treated later do not respond positively to the treatment.

Many patients are worried that technology seems to be taking over more and more in conventional medicine. The general practitioners role is often reduced merely to deciding which clinic or consultant to refer patients on to. Patients are also worried that busy doctors have so little time to talk with them and that the traditional relationship or trust between doctor and patient does not develop. Faced with this situation, many people have turned to alternative practitioners and have been helped, which has created in orthodox medicine a greater readiness to consider alternatives to a purely science based approach. The readiness has been reinforced by orthodox doctors recognition of shortcomings in their system. There are qualms about its infallibility, a prime example is the overuse of antibiotics, causing so called super bugs which doctors are finding increasingly difficult to treat. Bacterial infections are killing more people than cancer. In the EU alone drug resistant bacteria kills 25,000 people per year, at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion euros to the healthcare system and lost productivity. This problem is not going away any time soon as conventional medicine has no answer to this growing problem.

Perhaps now is the time for doctors to gain new knowledge of alternative therapies as together, we may make a difference.

Originally posted 2013-03-15 17:56:03.

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