Friday, May 20, 2011

"Alternative Medical Treatments Rarely Work" - The Economist and Edzard Ernst

here, it cite from a recent article in The Economist regard alt. med. as placebo:

001. someone writes in "Think Yourself Better" (2011-05-19):

"Edzard Ernst, the world’s first professor of complementary medicine [] no breathless promoter of snake oil. Instead, he and his research group have pioneered the rigorous study of everything from acupuncture and crystal healing to Reiki channelling and herbal remedies [...] over the years Dr Ernst and his group have run clinical trials and published over 160 meta-analyses of other studies [...] his findings are stark. According to his 'Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine', around 95% of the treatments he and his colleagues examined—in fields as diverse as acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and reflexology—are statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments [...] Dr Ernst believes his work helps address a serious public-health problem. He points out that conventional medicines must be shown to be both safe and efficacious before they can be licensed for sale. That is rarely true [we call this 'epistemic charity' in the land of knowledge study] of alternative treatments, which rely on a mixture of appeals to tradition and to the 'natural' [...] a placebo is a sham medical treatment [...] its main scientific use at the moment is in clinical trials as a baseline for comparison with another treatment [...] the effect is strongest for those disorders that are predominantly mental and subjective [...] practitioners of alternative medicine often excel at harnessing the placebo effect, says Dr Ernst. They offer long, relaxed consultations with their customers [...] and they believe passionately in their treatments, which are often delivered with great and reassuring ceremony. That alone can be enough to do good, even though the magnets, crystals and ultra-dilute solutions [that is HOMEOPATHY, folks] applied to the patients are, by themselves, completely useless."

Note: ah, yeah...
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