Let's get it out there. Alternative medicine harms people. Every day.
There is this misconception that Alternative medicine is more natural, more holistic. I hate the fact that these quacks have hijacked the word holistic. They somehow imply that the care given by doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, etc etc etc are not holistic. Oh, and as for natural? Nature tries to kill humans every day. Volcanos are natural. Adders are natural. Hurricanes are natural. Homoeopathy is not. Chiropractic "care" is not.
This argument is pure fallacy, known as 'Appeal To Nature' fallacy. I hate to break it to these people but a large portion of ACTUAL medicine is based on nature. Most famous example is of course aspirin, it's proper name being acetylsalicylic acid. Which was originally first extracted from the leaves of a willow tree. It is now used to treat patients who have ischaemic strokes and myocardial infarctions. There has been some evidence that it might prevent certain cancers, and of course, it works great for hangovers. There is also digoxin, derived from the foxglove plant. That is used to treat atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter with rapid heart beats. Opioids are commonly used painkillers that we get from poppies. The list just goes on and on and on. A Huge number of our cancer treatments are plant based. For example, Taxol, which is used to treat ovarian cancers, breast cancers, and lung cancers, is derived from Pacific Yew. So I suppose in a way you could say I did end up working in an evidence based herbal medicine field. The problems with naturopathic remedies is that they are not studied nearly well enough and regulations are few and far between if any. For example, Medical Journal of Australia published a study on how dangerous some of them are, causing acute hepatic and renal failure. Some herbal preparations having ingredients that are not listed, or not in the quantities advertised. Others containing toxic chemicals and heavy metals, and illegal ingredients derived from endangered animals like snow leopards. So they don only harm people but nature as well. Who would've thunk that?
To quote Dara O'Briain:
“I'm sorry, 'herbal medicine', "Oh, herbal medicine's been around for thousands of years!" Indeed it has, and then we tested it all, and the stuff that worked became 'medicine'. And the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri, so knock yourselves out.”Now, I work as a nurse in the NHS, which provides free care to the point of delivery. So you can guess how much it irks me when I hear these people complaining about how evidence based medicine is about profit. Like they give out their homeopathic/naturopathic advice for free. Just a quick Google search will show that these people charge anywhere between £25-£59, and that's only for consultation. Chiropractors charge £75 for the initial visit than £35 there after, and all they are are glorified masseurs. The tinctures and everything else that goes with it is charged at premium rate. Then these people ask their sucke... custo... Sorry, patients to come again in a week or two for more. In the US the alternative medicine market was valued at $40 billion due to rise up to $192 billion by 2025. Worldwide we are looking at £2.8 trillion! And these people have the nerve to criticise pharmaceutical companies for earning profit. The most recent numbers I can find for the UK are from 2012 and even that shows an eye watering £485 million. All in all the European market is due to get bigger and more profitable. So for these hack-jobs to claim that proper medicine is all about money and that their treatment isn't, is just amazingly disgusting.
Then there is the fact that these horse-shit peddlers try and elbow their way into proper medicine by calling it "Complimentary" medicine. Others who want to somehow call it integrative medicine. All that these people do is get in the way of real physicians, by masquerading as real physicians. As Mark Crislip MD, from my favourite science blog says:
"If you mix cow pie with apple pie, it does not make the cow pie taste better; it makes the apple pie worse."
This apple-cow pie trend is especially prevalent in cancer care, but that's a whole blog entry of it's own.
These people will try and say that al they do is provide service to those who want it, which would be all fine and dandy if it wasn't for the fact that an awful lot of these people and their sucke... Sorry. Customers also are then hellbent on turning other people AWAY from medicine that actually works. Take for instance vaccinations. Now because of these arseholes we are having more and more cases of illnesses like measles, whopping cough and mumps because they deter new parents from vaccinating their kids. And that is not on. That is putting their own false ideology above others safety. And then these bastards will wash their hands of those cases and say that they were only offering a different opinion, or that it wasn't their doing. Like that fraudster Andrew Wakefield denying that he had any kind of responsibility of the low uptake of the MMR following his "study". Or when he visited Somalian people in Minnesota to "warn" them about the supposed dangers of the MMR vaccine, sparking a huge measles epidemic in that community. Or when these people tell cancer victims that they should spend their last money and last months using bogus therapies like the Gerson Protocol. I've even come across quacks encouraging diabetics to come off their insulin!
These people are no better than those who call themselves psychics or mediums. These people feed on the vulnerable in our society and then deny any responsibility for their words and actions. These people need to be stopped, or at the very least ignored. They do not deserve to be listened to. They do not deserve any kind of false equivalency, if I want to know about how to give a good massage, or which herbs to put in my roast or how to grow my garden then I'd consider asking them. But health advice? No, these people do not deserve to be put on the same platform as those who do provide real, evidence based holistic care. They come into people's lives when they have the least mental ability to fight off, offer hope in exchange for money. Then they leave taking the money away with all hope. And for that alone these people need to be stopped.