Clinics that offer alternative medical treatments like acupuncture and homeopathy are now eligible to receive federal funding if they combine those treatments with traditional medicine. Some M.D.s are up in arms, decrying practitioners of alternative treatments as hucksters and con-artists. Such treatments, they say, have never been proven to work more frequently than the placebo effect whereas traditional medicine is supported by evidence from clinical trials. Author David Freeman says the picture is not so black and white and that even some highly respected traditionalists are reevaluating alternative medicine.
What’s the Big Idea?
The success of the medical establishment cannot be denied in its ability to combat infectious diseases. But the illnesses of today that pose the biggest threat to patient health are not easily remedied with vaccines and surgeries. Afflictions like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s often respond better to lifestyle changes—ones that alternative medicines incorporate directly into their regimes—than to traditional medicine’s most sincere attempts at a cure. Procedures offered by traditional medicine typically respond to disease only after it has set in while alternative treatments can reduce risk factors associated with disease before they form.