North & South feature on Alternative Medicine

By Michael Edmonds 15/06/2012 41

This week North & South magazine take on alternative medicine in thirteen pages of very thorough and well written articles. I can highly recommend it. I won’t repeat everything covered in the articles but very much appreciated the following quotes, originally from the book “Snake Oil and Other Preoccupations” by John Diamond.

“It’s easy for the well-fed metropolitan with time and money on his hands to talk about dealing with his chronic symptoms with Ayurvedic medicine or Chinese herbal therapies or ancient African remedies, but if you go to the countries where those remedies are all they have, you’ll find them crying out for good old Western antibiotics, pain killers and all the rest of the modern and extensive pharmacopoedia.”

“A Ugandan dying of Aids-related tuberculosis doesn’t want to be treated with the natural remedies of his forefathers: he wants an aseptic syringe of antibiotics and then he wants to join the 16-pill-a-day programme which, in the West, would stand a chance of putting his Aids on hold …. In mainland China itself no more than 18 percent of the population use traditional medicines these days, and this in a country where those therapies are cheap and available to everyone.”

41 Responses to “North & South feature on Alternative Medicine”

  • Very good quotes there Michael. I will look out for the article.

    It really does seem to be only the ignorant, the worried well or the worried wealthy that romanticize our early and mostly failed attempts at guessing the causality of disease and suffering.

  • All physical treatments have a limited success, including medical treatments.

    “The human body was found to be extremely capable of repairing itself when the stored memories of pain were cancelled. Further it was discovered that so long as the stored pain remained, the doctoring of what are called psychosomatic ills, could not result in anything permanent.”

    Making A Killing:
    Psychotropic drugs. It’s the story of big money—drugs that fuel a $330 billion psychiatric industry, without a single cure.

  • Behold, an example of pseudoscience, bring out the check list

    1) vague, unevidenced therapy – check
    2) attempting to discredit conventional medicine – check
    3) reference to “big money or “big pharma” – check
    4) link to conspiracy type film – check
    3) misinformation (“without a single cure” yeah right) – check

    Did I miss anything?

  • Well after a brief bit of fossicking I would add to your list…

    6) Person making claim belonging to a religious cult. Check!

  • I think Psychiatry hate is a defensive addition to the cult meme-complex targeting what is effectively the cult members “kryptonite”. Is it a forced move or a clever trick?

    I’m sure others will pick up on it in time.

  • I’d add “link to a cluttered, badly designed webpage containing poor grammar and hundreds of links to similarly breathless wastes of bandwidth”

  • Heh. These “breathless wastes of bandwidth” can come in handy to point such people to. A few years ago we had an interesting person who came and told us he had the perfect way to change time. Not quite time travel but close. We directed him to a few like minded pages and haven’t heard back.

  • Ross,
    Sort of the cyber equivalent of the Labyrinth? Maybe he got eaten by the minotaur?

  • Saw this in The Atlantic – although its about Nigerian e-mail scams, it could equally apply to Dianetics.

    I’m also always reminded (generally accompanied by barely stifled laughter) of the Frank Zappa rock/jazz musical opera ‘Joe’s Garage’ where the character “L Ron Hoover” leads a flock who worship and, ahem, interact with, domestic appliances…

  • Bigotry and bullying are words that come to mind when I read this post and comments.

    Asthon/Michael/Ross/Rob have any of you had a life threatening illness? What would you do if your loved one had cancer and you’d tried every medical intervention available that didn’t work? What would you do if your son developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and no matter how ‘manly’ you expected him to be, or how much you demanded him to just get up, or how many pills you gave him to try, or how many doctors you’d taken him to see; he still couldn’t get out of bed? What if your daughter attempted suicide even though she’d been on anti-depressants prescribed by her GP for the past year?

    Medicine does not have all the answers. Anyone that has the will to live or who’s love for another requires more than what is currently on the table – will search and will try anything. Sometimes the answers lie outside the parameters currently presented to you. Wake up fellas, what are you so threatened by? Conventional medicine is brilliant for some things but hopeless for others.

  • Rochelle,

    How ironic that you accuse several posters of “bullying” when the sheer tone of your email is far more bullying – pushing your own opinion onto others.
    I have had family and friends who have suffered from cancer, chronic fatigue, and other diseases so don’t presume to take the moral high ground on alternative medicine. Indeed I pay careful attention to various alternative therapies because I know that there are unscrupulous people who use them to make money off of the suffering of others.
    My problem with alternative therapies is that there is no evidence to support their use.
    Perhaps you would care to address the examples given in my post – the homeopaths who convince vulnerable African suffering from AIDS that they don’t need their anti-HIV drugs; that homeopathic potions and vitamins will do instead. Or the Ayurvedic medicines, many of which when analysed are shown to contain exceedingly high quantities of lead, arsenic or cadmium.
    Medicines certainly does not have all the answers – that does not mean the answers will be found in the imaginings of hoemopaths, crystal wavers or other purveyers of unproven and sometimes dangerous alternative therapies.

    You ask “what are you so threatened by?” Not much really, but then I am not the one responding to a fairly innocuous post by complaining about “bullying and bigotry”.

    Again, feel free to challenge rationally, and with evidence, anything that I said in my original post

  • Rochelle, interestingly, I hear your response in a way that allows freedom of choice. I don’t see bullying in your post as suggested by Michael, only observation and opening the forum to an alternative perspective. Emotional fuel drives the intensity of individual opinion. My 2 bobs worth from an alternative observer.

  • Thank you for your considered comments , Kathy, but I’m going to have to disagree with you re Rochelle’s comments.
    Any post which starts by accusing previous posters of being bigoted and bullying does not seem like a reasonable way to open the forum to an alternative perspective.

  • Hi Michael, you and some of your commentators seem to be enjoying some kind of superiority and smugness after North & South took on and seemingly knocked down Traditional, Complementary & Alternative medicine (TCAM). Isn’t that intellectual bullying?

    You, like most other people, have a position on TCAM. However, the glee you express in quoting Diamond’s rantings, and the comments you have made about ayurveda and homeopathy, display striking ignorance and a lack of critical thinking, and are little short of bigotry.

    If you were a real scientist, you would do your homework before making your comments and asking for evidence. If you can’t find evidence, you obviously don’t know how to do research.

    Healthcare in New Zealand is in deep crisis; mainly because it is holding on to outdated concepts. Reductionism may work in chemistry or physics, but it doesn’t work with biology. RCTs can no longer be relied on as the “gold standard” for human biology and medicine. The real topics of interest, such as placebo responses, are regularly discarded as pesky “artifacts” of research.

    TCAM has taken the lead in recognizing the human as a complex objective as well as subjective being. The issue of integrating natural medicine into healthcare is beyond question in many countries. There are government research centers and agencies for TCAM in the US, Europe, India, China, Malaysia and elsewhere. New Zealand is way behind in this, mainly because of the Ministry’s entrenched position (aka bigotry). This is a tragic loss for many NZ people who are suffering ill health.

    Traditional systems such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have evolved sophisticated models of physiology and psychology over thousands of years, through observation and rational thinking. Herbs have been tested and retested to ensure efficacy and safety. It is only in recent years that thousands of studies are revealing the chemical pharmacodynamics of herbs, and especially the amazingly synergistic effects of traditional herbal formulations.

    To portray TCAM practitioners as preying on the unwary and foolish public is unfair and unwarranted. Firstly, you insult the intelligence of many people who experience, study and practice TCAM. Secondly, you insult the good faith of most TCAM practitioners who devote themselves to helping their fellow beings. Many do this for little reward, unlike doctors and psychiatrists who earn $400 and more per hour, half of this contributed by the taxpayer.

    People like you should get out of your ivory towers, and go and talk to the thousands of patients whose lives have been saved by natural medicine, to the millions who have discovered wellbeing without addictive drugs. Go to India and talk to ayurvedic physicians who treat a hundred or more patients in a day. Go to China and witness surgery without anesthetics. Immerse yourself deeply in the reality of natural medicine; then you can properly comment on it.

    With all due respect, don’t claim to be a scientist if you are not open to what you don’t know. Life isn’t just about what comes out of a lab. Life IS the lab, and there is still a lot to learn.

    Who are the real “cult members”? Taking up polarized positions in such a serious issue as healthcare really is bigotry and contributes little to progress.

  • Gerald,
    Expressing an opinion and have facts to back it up is not bullying, intellectual or otherwise.

    “comments you have made about ayurveda and homeopathy, display striking ignorance and a lack of critical thinking, and are little short of bigotry”
    Please point out anything I have said about these treatments that is inaccurate. With regards to Ayurvedic medicine recent studies have shown that a significant proportion of these treatments are contaminated with dangerous levels of heavy metals and other contaminants. As Diamond points out, in the countries where these treatments are native, the local population if they can afford it would prefer to receive western medicine which has evidence showing it works.
    With regards to homeopathy I have followed both the scientific and the alternative medicine literature on it for years and still have not seen any relaible evidence which shows that it works.

    “To portray TCAM practitioners as preying on the unwary and foolish public is unfair and unwarranted. ”
    Nowhere did I state that the majority of TCAM practitioners prey on the unwary. There are certainly those that do. In my opinion most TCAM practitioners are indeed very caring people – they just have a poor grasp on the scientific method and how to determine cause and effect.

    “People like you should get out of your ivory towers”
    This sort of comment seems to assume that academics never leave their work place. Well I have news for you – I have family and friends who have suffered terrible diseases. I am concerned that they get the best evidence based treatment possible.

    “With all due respect, don’t claim to be a scientist if you are not open to what you don’t know.”
    There is no point using the first four words of this sentence, if the rest of it negates them.
    As a scientist I am open to any evidenced based idea. However, just as I am not planning to study the life cycle of the unicorn or organise a dragon hunting expedition, until there is evidence of any of these therapies working, why should I keep my mind so open that my brain might fall out?

    Furthermore, suggesting that science is still based on a reductionist approach shows a lack of understanding of science. Many areas including biology and chemistry now apply integrative approaches in many areas, and have done so for decades.

    You will find that all the scientists here are open to any idea – so long as there is reliable evidence to support it. The problem with TCAM is that in most cases there is no evidence to support it. (I ay most because, based on the evidence I accept that therapies such as acupuncture and controlled mental states have potential health benefits.
    One of the issues with using the broad stroke of TCAM is that it does not allow you to separate the wheat from the chaff. You might want to be more specific in future if you want to provide evidence for any of the TCAM’s you believe in.

    Neither you or any other supporter of various TCAM’s has yet addressed the issues I have pointed and and which I will reiterate as follows:
    Perhaps you would care to address the examples given in my post – the homeopaths who convince vulnerable African suffering from AIDS that they don’t need their anti-HIV drugs; that homeopathic potions and vitamins will do instead. Or the Ayurvedic medicines, many of which when analysed are shown to contain exceedingly high quantities of lead, arsenic or cadmium.

    “Who are the real “cult members”? Taking up polarized positions in such a serious issue as healthcare really is bigotry and contributes little to progress.”

    Again, we have supporters of TCAM, who complain about close mindedness and bullying using rhetoric that shows who the real bullies and closeminded people are.

  • Interestingly the article in the North & South Magazine is not completely negative on alternative medicine and homeopaths as this particular blog implies.

    It states ‘Homeopathic practitioners are “very good” at looking after their patients. “They’re sympathetic, better at communication, their appointments last an hour or so. In the busy health system, some doctors don’t have the time or skills for that.’

    Yes! This is exactly why people seek out alternative help.

    Then it goes on to say – ‘the answer is let’s learn that’s what patients want and try and bring that sympathy and communication back into medicine.’

    Again yes! What a huge improvement this would be.

    The rest of the article is negative on homeopaths yet the main person they have asked there opinion about it is the NZ skeptics spokesperson – Vicki Hyde. What she would know about homeopathy remains to be seen. This is lazy investigative reporting.

    In another part of the article it highlights how important food is ‘”Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” After all, nature is well ahead of the game: researchers are still trying to figure out what compounds go in what, but plants figured this out aeons ago, producing fruit and vegetables of such synergistic excellence you’d almost think it was for our benefit.’

    Absolutely! Again this shows the lack of knowledge this reporter has on alternative medicine. As just about EVERY alternative medical practitioner I’ve ever met addresses diet, and fully believe that good wholesome food is one of the best medicines. The supplements etc are usually just that to supplement that which may be missing. This is one thing that doctors again are not trained in; nutrition (and yes this is a fact they literally are not trained in nutrition, if it has changed recently please let me know as I would be delighted to be wrong about this). They hardly ever ask the question “so how’s your diet”. Many many issues arise from poor diets of modern times.

    The article also states ‘with their patients, doctors also need to balance the “science of care” based on their professional knowledge with the “art of care” – health advice involving a more empathetic understanding of the whole person’.

    Again completely agree.

    With regards to intravenous Vit C here’s a great kiwi story covered by 60minutes about a farmer given up for dead who is now well and truly alive thanks to his family’s unwillingness to give up

    The article also says their were four fatalities that arose from adverse effects of alternative treatments. ‘These fatalities were where alternative treatments were substituted for conventional medicines.’ Not because of the alternative treatments but because they believe if they’d had the conventional treatments they wouldn’t have died, there’s no proof of this. And have you seen the number of deaths due to medical malpractice lately?

    The article also states that there is significant scientific evidence of the benefits of some supplements.

    Personally I advocate for what works and for the healthy integration of conventional and alternative.

  • Rochelle

    Thank you for a very thoughtful and thorough post. I shows that we agree on many things.
    With regards to most homeopaths being sympathetic and having time for patients, I completely agree. But this does not negate the fact that the whole basis of their treatment is to provide those who see them with water and sugar tablets with the belief that these will help what is ailing them. I tihnk homeopaths would be far better served throwing away their tablets and bottles and calling themselve life counsellors or another title which more accurately reflects where any true benefit comes from.
    Also, I cannot ignore the fact that there are some homeopaths who will for example,suggest that people replace valid medications with homeopathic remedies. This is taking place in Africa in terms of treatments for HIV and AIDS, and has occurred again and again in the UK with hoemopaths prescribing the use of homeopathic solutions for prevention on malaria.
    And while many homeopaths seem to be very nice people, their organisations do not appear to make any attempt to condemn these more dangerous practices or distance themselves from them. Watch the clip I have provided a link for above and see how the UK homeopath representative engages in doubletalk which could compete with any politician.

    And let us not assume that because homeopaths may be good listeners and sympathetic, that doctors are not. I personally would not go to a doctor who lacked these skills. I think you will find many younger doctors in particular are much better with these skills. The time thing is an issue which needs to be solved.

    WIth regards to nutrition, I’m not sure what training doctors currently get, but I think you are underestimating them. Again, if my doctor offered me poor nutrition advice, I would change doctors. Personally I find nutrition to be fairly straightforward, and indeed, if anyone sticks to the basic messages of, plenty of fruits and vegetable, mainly lean meats, fish and chicken, limited processed food, with variety and not to excess, (plus exercise) then they should be well served. Sometimes I think nutrition is overcomplicated.
    Also, if someone wants specific dietary advice they can go to a dietician.

    But while healthy food can reduce our risks for some diseases, it cannot treat all diseases. Ironically, because better living conditions (compared to our ancestors) means that we live longer, we are now seeing more cases of diseases like cancer which have a genetic basis, and are being seen because instead of being eaten by predator, dying of malaria or starvation by the age of 30, we are surviving into our 80’s or later (I think currently the AVERAGE life expectancy is close to 80 years.
    Medicine works to treatment many of these diseases, as well as those which are the result of infection, or more commonly the result of excesses in our lifestyles.
    Medicine cannot effectively treat every disease, but this does not mean that we should accept unevidenced “alternative” treatments.

    “The rest of the article is negative on homeopaths yet the main person they have asked there opinion about it is the NZ skeptics spokesperson – Vicki Hyde. What she would know about homeopathy remains to be seen. This is lazy investigative reporting.”

    Vicki Hyde has examined many areas of pseudoscience over the past few decades. Her degrees in psychology and sociology probably give her a very good perspective on the critical thinking (or lack thereof) associated with many pseudoscientific treatments.
    I tihnk you will find there are quite a few sketpics like Vicki who have read a lot about different alternative therapies including homeopathy, proabably more so than many homeopaths who, from my observations, cherry pick what they read, if the “evidence” they tend to supply to “prove” that it works is anything to go by.

    With regards to supplements, I tihnk a good diet, usually trumps the use of supplements, with folic acid for pregnant women one of the few exceptions. There is some evidence that Vitamin E and selenium (I think) can be beneficial, but little evidence for anything else.

    You imply that the farmer you mention was saved by intravenous vitamin C and then in your next paragraph claim that there is no proof in cases where patients switched to alternative medicines from conventional and died that their deaths would have been saved by the conventional treatment.
    That is having your cake and eating it too.

    There is no evidence that the intravenous vitamin C was what saved the farmer. Equally it is impossible to say that it did not have an effect. That is the problem with a single example.
    With exchanging alternative for conventional there are cases where such a substitution has cost someones life. For example, the Australian homeopath who insisted on treating his daughters eczema only with alternative treatments, until she died of septicemia and malnutrition
    Other examples can be found here
    As an asthmatic I have no doubt that when a homeopath or other alternative practitioner suggests that someone stop taking their medication there is a obvious connection when the die a few days later.

    WIth regards to the number of deaths due to medical malpractice, which is actually relatively small, is that in many cases doctors are dealing with people who without any treatment would die anyway. Medications work because they actually have an effect on the body, and because of this they cause side effects, and if given incorrectly they can kill. (This is why, when I have been in hospital I pay a lot of attention to what is going on and ask questions).
    Having said that it is still important that doctors work towards reducing the number of malpractice deaths. And I suspect that most malpractice deaths are the result of human error rather than the intrinsic dangers of medications/procedures.

    Most alternative therapies are unlikely to harm people precisely because they have no effect on the body

    “Personally I advocate for what works and for the healthy integration of conventional and alternative”

    I largely agree with you here. But I define “what works” as meaning that which we have evidence to show that it works.
    And if by “alternative” you include acupuncture, then I will agree that this example has enough evidence in some applications for it to be considered as useful.

  • Epigenetics and quantum biology which contribute to the new bio energy science of medicine has validated the science behind most credible alternative health care, however these sciences are still in developmental phase at most universities. It will take time for this knowledge to filter through to the mainstream as it has with quantum physics and calculus which most people still do not understand despite the importance to our civilisation. Who pays for research, PR and advertising is always an important feature in any field of activity including health. Impartial research of credible medical journals will show the astonishing facts of iatrogenics in mainstream health, (2009 Ministerial Review Group in NZ estimates this accounts for 20% of public hospital spending) the difficulty Dr’s have with accurate diagnosis estimates of 44,000 people a year in NZ, and how often an autopsy shows evidence of error, as well as provide evidence of the allopathic system losing ground with diseases of affluence, like obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer and cardiovascular. Most people are unaware of the value of green chemistry in the development of health improvements globally. Safe water and sanitation, healthy housing and transport, adequate nutrition, adequate pest control and an understanding of simple hygiene, biology and health principles. This has contributed more cost effectively to longevity and improvements in health worldwide than medical intervention. The wealthiest country on the planet, USA, with apparently the most resources for health care has an appalling cost benefit health record currently because it relies so much on allopathic intervention rather than simple healthy lifestyle as the primary care system.
    Diseases like obesity, cancer, CVD, arthritis are endemic despite the funding towards drugs and medical science and the immense PR and advertising budgets which have obviously motivated the choices of most consumers and health workers.
    Any scientist or thinking person effectively presented with the wide level of facts available about the efficacy and safety of most alternative methods and the dangers of many allopathic methods would try to properly inform themselves of a safe balance between both these systems through intelligent integration. best Johnesigncom

  • John,
    Could you define “quantum biology”?
    Cancer and arthritis are most likely on the rise because we now live much longer giving diseases which are due to genetics or deterioration the opportunity to take hold. Instead of being eaten by a predator or dying of dysentery by 30 we now service into our 80’s when wear and tear becomes more obvious.
    Of course our sedentary life style has also created some issues.
    Most medical doctors of course recognize the value of a healthy life style, good nutrition and exercise, to imply that modern medicine focuses only on drugs is a fallacy. My own doctor only prescribes drugs where only absolutely necessary and after discussing them thoroughly with me.
    as discussed previously the iatrogenics in hospitals is often the result of dealing with pele who are already ill and because drugs have an effect on the body which can result in side effects or indicted consequences.
    Many alternative medicines are only “safe” because they have little effect on the body.

  • I thought we were making some progress here but your claim that most alternative therapies have no effect on the body is a gross generalization and simply incorrect.

    Then you contradict yourself by saying acupuncture has evidence of being useful (yes acupuncture is included in alternative medicine).

    Where is the evidence that homeopathy is made from water and sugar tablets? The interview on homeopathy at the link you provided was set up to disprove homeopathy and is not a clear representation of homeopathy at large, the thousands of patients who would claim they have benefited from it and the research that has proved its efficacy.

    Like Vicki Hyde I too have degrees in Health Science and Psychology, have conducted research on CFS, and have qualifications in alternative therapies. In my 18 years experience and research into alternative therapies and health I have come to entirely different conclusions to Vicki. So who’s right?

    Before you answer my rhetorical question I still maintain there is room for both modern and ‘alternative’ medicine. Modern medicine being great at acute and traumatic conditions and ‘alternative’ medicine being great at prevention, addressing the underlying cause of symptoms and the whole person.

  • Simple chemistry tells us that homeopathy is “made from” water & sugar tablets. At the extreme dilutions used in many homeopathic “remedies” the odds of even a single molecule of the original substance (duck liver, Berlin wall, T.rex or black hole – & no I am not making these up; there are “provings” available for all of them) are vanishingly small. Nor has well-conducted research proved their efficacy.

  • Rochelle,
    I suggest you retread my post because it did not say what you said it did.
    I said “MANY alternative medicines … have little effect on the body” so this leaves space for the few “alternative” therapies that do have an effect.
    With regards to whether your or Vicki Hyde are correct, science does not rely on personalities it is based on the evidence – so whoever is basing their comments on evidence is most likely correct.
    What evidence is there that homeopathy is made from water and sugar tablets? Ask most homeopaths and they will tell you this. The Council of Homeopaths in NZ has stated that there are no active substances in homeopathic preparations. Since they are made of water and/or sugar tablets ergo, they only contain water and/or sugar.
    I would maintain that, in a world where resources are becoming more and more limited in their availability, that we should be moving towards only using treatments that have evidence that they work.

    Also, while we are defining alternative medicine, it does not include good nutrition and healthy living because this has been a part of conventional medicine for many decades.
    Modern medicine has always had a role in prevention and treating the whole person.

  • Rochelle,
    The reason for the video clip is to show that homeopathic organizations refuse to control members to provide dangerous information to their clients.
    You say that you have a background in alternative therapies. Is one of them homeopathy? If so would you be comfortable providing a client traveling to an area where malaria exists with a homeopathic treatment to prevent malaria?

  • John Coombs,

    Epigenetics has not “validated the science behind most credible alternative health care”. If you look on my blog, also hosted here on sciblogs, you will find I have written about epigenetics. Epigenetics is just a form of gene regulation involving chromatin, the “packaging” of DNA. (I am including chemical modifications of DNA here, partly for simplicity, partly as I am typing this on a Slovene keyboard which is tricky – muscle memory for keys does not work. Still cannot find the apostrophe at all!)

  • Most deaths resulting from pharmaceutical drugs use are not the result of misuse, or medical malpractice. They are due to properly regulated drugs, prescribed properly, dispensed properly, and used properly.

    According to the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency;

    • 5% of all hospital admissions are for ADRs,
    • 5% of all hospital patients suffer an ADR,
    • ADRs are the 5th most common cause of hospital death,
    • Estimated 197,000 deaths per year in EU from ADRs,
    • EU Societal cost of ADRs Euro 79 Billion / year

  • I wince when I read articles written by people with left-brained prisons. Seriously. If John Diamond decided to get a history lesson then he would find that the FOUNDER (and it made him already richer than he already was due to Oil and banking) of modern pharmaceutical medicine and the schools of modern medicine, John D. Rockefeller NEVER used a conventional western doctor. In fact, his Homeopathic doctor was at his bedside when he died at 97. So it begs the question. Why would the man who created one of the most profitable forms of financial windfalls in the HISTORY of economics NEVER use a western doctor? Let’s ask the the British Royal Family why THEY still use Homeopaths? Must be a bunch of quacks right John. Yep. Talk about investigative journalism. I have question for John, who paid for the article to be researched and written and how long before we see further demonisation of alternative medicines/remedies before the FDA (yes they have a LARGE say in our policies thanks to one John Key) begin to further restrict our access to these products (and our choices to do so) under the Codex Alimentarius (which was created by two Nazi’s both working at I.G Farben who were sentenced at Nuremberg, but got out of jail earlier than expected thanks to the son of John D Rockefeller). John Diamond’s perspective is tainted to say the least. The third largest killer of humans in the USA? Doctors. Another fact so ceremoniously left out by John Diamond. This whole magazine article stinks to high heaven of some dirty backhanding from interest groups. Demonising/disinformation often comes before the inaction of draconian measures. This article is so transparent you could call it glad wrap. Bad data creates bad science. End of story.

    • Pha,
      Your comment is filled with personal attacks and appeals to authority, which makes it difficult to take seriously at least from a rational point of view. Also, I think recent studies have discredited much of the whole left brain/right brain assignment of different types of thinking.
      J. D. Rockefeller the founder of modern pharmaceutical medicine? Can you support this claim? It seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
      The magazine article seemed very rational and evidence based to me, unlike your post which relies on personal attacks and emotive language.

  • There are other possible ‘founders’ for ‘modern pharmaceutical medicine’ eg, so I have to say there is a whiff of conspiracy theory in the previous comment.

    The British Royal Family may well use homeopathy but I notice that when serious, non-self-limiting problems strike, they take themselves off to medical doctors extremely quickly: most recently, the Duke of Edinburgh was hospitalised with a UTI.

  • Good point Alison, the Royal family may publicly endorse homeopathy but the Duke of Edinburgh is certainly not the first to be treated with (conventional) medicine.

  • In my opinion “Alternative” is a misnomer
    There are two types of medicine, one passes a variety of tests and peer reviewed papers are put in the public domain. It also has to have greater than 40% success rate, which is the succes rate for placebos.
    The other has either failed these tests or has not been tested.

    The same can be said for random vitamin supplementation.

    Eat a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables and unprocessed food and have regular blood tests and blood pressure checks with your GP.

    • David, I agree with you regarding the term “alternative”. I tend to hesitate every time I use it, but do so because most people understand what it means.
      Great advice re the healthy diet and I would add regular exercise as key tool to remaining healthy.

  • Michael, big bold statements such as, “My problem with alternative therapies is that there is no evidence to support their use” demonstrate either ignorance or just plain stirring.

    Are you suggesting there is no evidence that St John’s Wort is an effective treatment for mild/moderate depression, or honey is effective in wound care, or Buteyko Breathing Technique has been shown to benefit asthmatics… to name a few…

    Sometimes such bold statements sound more like those of a zealous fundamentalist, not a rational thinking person who proclaims to be an objective scientist.

  • Ron, that all depends what you are defining as “alternative medicine”. It is a rather nebulous term but for me it covers all therapies that are offered without proof.
    As St John’s Wort has been shown to have some beneficial effects then I class it as medicine not “alternative” medicine. Likewise I consider meditation to have been shown to have some beneficial effects, unlike reikki.

  • “The rest of the article is negative on homeopaths yet the main person they have asked there opinion about it is the NZ skeptics spokesperson – Vicki Hyde. What she would know about homeopathy remains to be seen. This is lazy investigative reporting.”
    Rochelle, this is a serious allegation: hard to justify in view of the space given to The New Zealand Council of Homeopathy past-president Gwyneth Evans, who was given plenty of space. Her views were also underlined by a portrait photo, commissioned by the magazine: an honour not extended to Vicki Hyde. This was the only image used in the story, of an interviewee, by the way. Images and their captions are the first thing many readers look at in a story. The caption to the photo repeated a quote of Evans in bold, uncritically.
    The caption read “New Zealand Council of Homeopathy past-president Gwyneth Evans says homeopathy can be used for any medical condition. “As long as you have symptoms, you don’t need to have a diagnosis.”

  • Jenny wrote “The caption read “New Zealand Council of Homeopathy past-president Gwyneth Evans says homeopathy can be used for any medical condition. “As long as you have symptoms, you don’t need to have a diagnosis.””

    To me this reads as encouraging self-diagnosis, something I that ought to be discouraged, surely (minor aliments aside).

  • True Story .. Great London Cholera Epidemic .. After it was all over a report was presented to the House of Lords. One vigilant Lord asked why the Homeopathic figures were not included and where are they ? ..

    Results .. Homeopathic Hospitals had a 9.1% mortality .. The Allopathic Hospitals had a 41% mortality.

    When asked why the figures had not been included in the report .. the reply was “Because the Homeopathic figures would skew the report”

    Grant looks as though he may be old enough to remember Dr Eva Hill .. she used to cure Cancer by natural means and no surgery .. The NZ Medical people sued her .. she won.

    I have recently read of 46,000 cases of flaccid paralysis caused by the polio vaccine .. funny how polio caused flaccid paralysis.

    • Paxman,
      Homeopathic remedies tended to be available to the rich so there are confounding factors in suggesting that the homeopathic hospitals had a lower mortality. Those treated with homeopathy tended to have better living conditions, diet, etc and lived in less cramped conditions.

      A more complete background of Dr Eva Hill can be found here
      While some of her views certainly have merit, others are far more dubious. And regarding her being sued and winning, I think you will find this is not exactly how how it played out(see link above)