Sunday, 20 September 2009

No-one mention 'Placebo'

Article in today's Sunday News about alternative medicine. The piece isn't that critical, nor is it really complimentary.

One important paragraph: "Despite a wealth of available information, there is little or no strong scientific evidence and very little regulation about who and what is safe."

It is this lack of regulation that is an issue. So often people turn to these treatments when they provide no power to actually cure. Not that that is what is being really sold.

"Many alternative therapy successes are based on believing it will work a walnut in the pyjama pocket for leg cramps apparently does"

Belief is mentioned as the most important factor in these treatments, and that is true. In that if you think this will make you feel better, you probably will, regardless of actual levels of pain (which is hard to measure objectively).

The key word never mentioned is, if you can guess from the title, Placebo. The "little or no strong evidence" is entirely in the placebo camp, in that, for example, acupuncture as a form of pain relief works whether or not you place the needles in the right place, or even use the proper needles! It's the placebo effect at work.

The best I would give is: don't use alternative medicines. The author gives good runner up advice: "Any therapy can cure or fail some of the people some of the time, so a mix of traditional medicine and alternative therapies may work very well together. But bear in mind that anything that sounds too good to be true probably is."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on alternative therapy. It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power