alternative medicine

So did anyone read that article I posted on ‘alternative engineering’? If you did not, I suggest you do, as it is very funny and interesting and written by a very brilliant MD.

It was meant to be a satirical commentary on ‘alternative medicine’ – Dr. Novella was essentially mocking the notion of ‘medicine’ that has no scientific basis, and moreover, the fact that the media will report on seemingly anything with the unbiased tone that is generally beneficial, but can actually be quite troublesome when people rely upon the media for information regarding choices about their health – and are offered information that is at the very least inaccurate, but at the very worst, dangerous.

I don’t think the media at large’s inadequate scientific reporting is limited to medicine, as I’m quite sure that most of us have read articles that make overly-generalized and statistically inaccurate statements regarding recently published research, but I do think that in the realm of medicine, when it involves actual well-being, that the media really needs to take their role in public health more seriously.

Dr. Novella illustrates this point well when he discusses ‘alternative engineering’, highlighting the fact that building bridges not based upon science is dangerous and really a rather ridiculous notion.  I think he also does a nice job of conveying the tone that tends to accompany articles reporting on ‘alternative’ treatments, which is that research–proof, validity–are stuffy concepts that are the result of close-minded professors and scientists.

Do other people feel this way or is it just me?

It is truly worrisome, because the fact of the matter is that most people don’t take to heart the statement “don’t believe everything you read” and DO in fact treat scientifically-oriented articles as though they were written by someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about.  That sounds a bit harsh, but the misconceptions out there regarding medicine are quite numerous, and at least some of this can probably be attributed to popular media.

It is not as though I would advocate NOT reporting on acupuncture or reiki healing, it is just that I wish it would be done with the clarity necessary to convey to the audience that they should treat this not as science or something that has any medical relevance, but something that is interesting and intriguing – like more of a human interest story than reporting upon healthcare options.

To be fair, I know that there are some really wonderful medical and science journalists out there, I am just a tad frustrated about this today because I am trying to write an article about alternative medicine and I am having an extremely difficult time toning down my frustrated tone – as you may or may not know, sometimes my tone in writing is not what I would like it to be! ;-) BOOO.

Anyway, I am interested to see if any of you guys buy the idea that acupuncture or chiropractic therapy are valid treatments – one of my customers actually got quite offended when I mentioned that chiropractors are big quacks (just kidding, I am polite in real life, believe it or not) – but it does surprise me that people think ‘alternative’ treatments are medically valid.

What do you think?  Have you participated in alternative medical practices?  Or do you know anyone who has?  I’m especially interested in the supa New-Agey ones, like Reiki (which is ‘energy healing.’)

Apparently most of the people that stumble upon my blog are looking for information on marijuana, but if that is not your reason for reading this (or even if it is!) I would love to hear any thoughts on this!

x C

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “alternative medicine

  1. Michael

    If an alternative therapist works too hard, they should take a 5 minute breiki.

  2. J

    I got Reiki once.

    Weird and pretty un-interesting

  3. Maggie

    Ahhhhhh the everyone’s a commedian!

    I’m an advanced level Reiki practitioner and I’d be the first to tell you that it’s an amazing therapeutic modality..and a really wiggly kind of thing. Does it work? Definitely. Do I know how it works? Yes and no. But you have to keep in mind that “healing” can be defined as something that is restorative, or that brings a positive outcome to a negative condition. My clients tell me that they feel measurably better after a session, and I always advocate Reiki in addition to, but never in place of, traditional Western medicine. My particular areas of expertise are stress/anxiety reduction and pain management. Management is the operative here; the word “cure” is never mentioned.

    I’m a science geek by nature, and yet I have never been able to deny this thing I do with my hands…that I’ve been able to do all my life (I didn’t find out until adulthood that there was a name for it). I couldn’t deny it, but I couldn’t explain it either. But if you’re ever in LA give me a yell…I’m happy to give a demo!

  4. Charlee

    Michael: That was an awesome line, and not one that I heard at all in the numerous conversations I had about reiki in trying to learn about it. Big ups.

    J: I suppose a lot of people would find it un-interesting. I am relatively interested in this kind of stuff and trying to figure out its value (or lack thereof) but I suppose many are not!

    Maggie: I wasn’t trying to be a comedian! I am a tad sarcastic, but I am genuinely interested in this-and I think it is REALLY cool to be able to do something like that, because whether or not its benefits are medically significant, anecdotally it seems to be quite effective for a number of people.
    And I know what you’re saying – pretty much no one tries to say that alternative medicine should take the place of formal medicine, but nonetheless, a lot of physicians do get quite fired up about it … I think part of it is the fact that people are somewhat obsessed with science these days, but I have heard a lot of physicians complain that it’s quite expensive? I think that adds to their ‘this is a scam’ view.
    Thanks for commenting though, that is super cool and I wish you’d linked to your blog or something because I’d like to more about this!

  5. Hey there Java Goddess…

    Yes, some physicians do get a bit exercised when you tread on their territory. And yet, I find receptive folks in the strangest places. I am in the process of writing a proposal to take Reiki into the Veterans hospital here in LA. Turns out they are part of a network of hospitals who integrate alternative treatment modalities into their daily scope of practice. The one thing I’ve come to understand about the mind-body connection is that there IS a connection; and sometimes it’s expressed in ways that make no freaking sense. you just have to close your eyes and trust what’s in front of you.

    So give me a yell any old time. I’ve included the link to my mad ramblings…everything from military issues to girls what need to get their hurr did. I’m not nearly as prolific as you (life – that testy bitch -has a nasty way of taking up all my valuable time), but seriously sister…I could learn a thing or two from you about blogging.

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