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"Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial" by Sing & Ernst (2009) (book)

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Tom Kindlon, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. Tom Kindlon

    Tom Kindlon Senior Member

    I 've just finished reading this book. It explains the rationale behind various therapies, mainly focusing on acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine and chiropractic therapy, and discusses the evidence that exists regarding how effective or otherwise they are and whether they have been associated with harms.

    I've come away being a lot more sceptical of alternative medicine in general and certain therapies in particular.

    I would now, for example, be very sceptical of any claims regarding homeopathy helping.

    It wouldn't be popular with those who make money offering the therapies.

    2009 book so there may have been studies since then but generally fairly timeless in terms of the rationale of therapies.

    There are lots of reviews at the link:
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  2. Kina


    Sofa, UK
    I thought it was an excellent book, a real eye-opener.
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  3. IreneF

    IreneF Senior Member

    San Francisco
    I had my own eye-opener about eight or ten years ago, when I was a volunteer in a consumer health library. I used a database that had lots of info on complementary medicine. I got a gander on what passed for research in the altmed world. It was nothing like what what was published in medical journals, and bore little resemblance to what I was taught as a bio major.

    Which is not to say that there is no value in complementary medicine, but there's not nearly as much as people think.
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  4. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

    I've had issues with a great many so called therapies and said so. But I'd be interested to know how Cranial-sacral therapy faired.

    It actually did clearly help me as in got me out of bed. It was no cure and I would have needed to continue indefinitely. And also I only found a good therapist after trying two others first. The skill and training of the therapist matters here. But it was clearly doing something and I could feel the effects while on the table.

    If I had the money I would still be going.
  5. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

    One of my favorite books. A good resourse.

  6. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

    Sth Australia
    Im with what Snowdrop said, the skill/experience and training of the therapist hugely matters when using alternative therapies. I've had success with homeopathy but only with an extremely skilled homoepath who had studied in india among other places (he actually had people flying from overseas to see him as he was that good). Same with my chiropractors, only 1 in every 5 do I find any good...same thing I found with physios (I went to around 6 before I found what I viewed as a good one).

    The good ones in these things can be quite amazing (same goes with the energy workers, Ive seen some amazing stuff with very gifted people). I suppose in most research they are just studying those with standard skills which really don't stand out a lot in what they are doing.

    Always get personal recommendations from others before chosing a certain alternate specialist to see. Take as much care in choosing who you see as you would if you were trying to choose a ME/CFS specialist. (of cause no one can fix ME/CFS but good alternative specialists can at times help with certain symptoms).
  7. Ian

    Ian Senior Member

    A lot of alternate medicine is absolute quackery. For example homeopathy sugar pills, it has been estimated there isn't a single molecule of the 'active' ingredient in there. In the simplest of terms, there is no difference between regular cubes of sugar and homeopathic pills. Yet people still buy into this.

    A lot of mainstream medicine is also absolute quackery. Statins, tamiflu, vioxx, flu shot for pregnant women? The list is endless. People buy into this because they trust authority. Sometimes the 'science' behind these treatments is either absolutely fraudulent, or simply non existent.

    Be skeptical of all medicine.
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  8. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

    When I first got sick I had access to a bricks-and-mortar medical library (back in the days when http was still a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye), and also separately read a few 'authoritative' alternative med texts from various sources.

    While the mainstream view was not offering much on my particular problems, it also quickly became obvious the alt stuff was, well, mostly crap, and the bits that weren't couldn't exactly be described as novel or profoundly useful.

    The difference between the mainstream and alt versions in the quality of information and evidence, the coherence of the underlying rationale, and the testability, was stark.

    Science is a flawed enterprise, medical science even more so, but it works, when applied well.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
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