Alternative Medicine

There have always been old wives'' tales about secret remedies for curing all kinds of diseases, but they have really flourished with the spread of the Internet. There are all kinds of "natural health" websites out there touting special foods and drinks as being able to cure all sorts of things, like apple cider vinegar and bee pollen (to name just a couple I've been researching lately). Scientists scoff at these things and call them "alternative medicine" because they say they aren't backed up by science; others say scientific studies are marred by pharmaceutical special interests.

I don't claim to know the truth about any of these things, but I do think there is room for a middle ground here. There is an important distinction to be made when we talk about the "science" of "alternative medicine" and what works. There is a BIG difference between the following statements:

There are NO scientific studies that show benefits from such-and-such remedy.

There are scientific studies that show NO benefits from such-and-such remedy.

It all comes down to where that "NO" is in the sentence. Often times you will see people saying "there are NO studies" to prove that something works, and use that to dismiss it completely, but that could just mean there haven't been enough studies done to find a link! It's much stronger to say "There ARE studies that show NO benefits," but even then it could still mean the remedy is effective for certain kinds of people and we just haven't done studies yet to find those specific cases under which it works.

A lot of alternative medicine probably is hogwash propogated by people trying to sell stuff. But I also find it hard to believe that ALL of it is hogwash with so many people claiming that such-and-such remedy worked for them - science hasn't figured everything out yet, either. So don't be afraid to try something "alternative" just because a study hasn't proven its effectiveness yet; just do a little research, use some common sense, and don't be surprised if it doesn't work, either.