A recent article in the Economist uses a lot of terminology like “snake oil” and “placebo” when referring to alternative treatments. “Alternative medical treatments rarely work,” states the article. We question the heavy skepticism of alternative and almost defacto belief in conventional medicine that the article implied–and is perhaps implied in wider circles.

At FoundHealth, we are discovering evidence to the contrary as we look at hundreds of shared experiences, here at FoundHealth and on chat boards across the Web, about real people that have beaten depression, fibromyalgia, cancer and many other serious health conditions with alternative treatments, even when conventional medicine had closed the door on them. And we are seeing some interesting dialogue around alternative treatments providing symptomatic relief that when the symptoms are very intense as in the case of fibromyalgia.

Positive Evidence for Alternative Treatments

Beyond community testimonials, clinical trial data on alternative medicine is emerging and in many cases, shown strong and favorable results for these types of treatments. From treatments for infertility to depression, new studies are showing that specific herbs, diets, and body movement therapies can help tackle these issues alone or in conjunction with conventional medicine.

The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) continues to fund studies to investigate the safety and efficacy of Alternative treatments. Recently, NCCAM issued their findings on the use of CAM (complimentary and alternative) therapies on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Certain treatments such as Probiotics and Acupuncture showed results while the efficacy of other treatments was not proven or shown to be better than placebo. We are encouraged by NCCAM’s balanced approach to evaluating alternative medicine treatments–they acknowledge that studies in this area have not been abundant or in some cases, not well designed, but they are committed to figuring out what works. It is very important that we not “throw out the baby with the bath water” to write off whole areas of treatments because they are labelled as “alternative” or “complimentary”. In light of how many people in the population are using CAM treatments, 43% by NCCAM’s estimate, our focus must be to discover what treatments can deliver results and healing.

Where is the Evidence for Conventional Medicine?

“Even today, with a high-tech health-care system that costs the nation $2 trillion a year, there is little or no evidence that many widely used treatments and procedures actually work better than various cheaper alternatives,” said Dr. David Eddy. He is a pioneer in “evidence-based medicine” and stated that only 20 to 25% of conventional medical treatments have proof of efficacy. Should we chalk up the other 80% of treatments in medicine to “snake oil”. Certainly not.

Certain Healing Sciences have existed for hundreds of years. Their historical existence allowed years of trial and error that have been embedded into that science, whether Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine or other ancient healing sciences. It will take years, perhaps decades, to prove out these sciences using clinical trials or even to figure our why they work. In the meanwhile, I am keeping my mind wide open for the possible benefits in all areas where real people have been benefited, whether its categorized as conventional, alternative, or complimentary. The whole point is to feel better or be healthier and be cured, of whatever ails you.

What is your point-of-view on CAM (complimentary and alternative) treatments?

References:

http://www.economist.com/node/18710090

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/IBS-science.htm

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_22/b3986001.htm

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