MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

I just came across a website that promised to”cover 5 common misconceptions about alternative medicine that many people have”. As much of this blog is about this very issue, I was fascinated. Here are Dr Cohen’s 5 points in full:

5 Misconceptions about Alternative Medicine Today

1. Alternative Medicine Is Only an Alternative

In fact, many alternative practitioners are also medical doctors, chiropractors, or other trained medical professionals. Others work closely with MDs to coordinate care. Patients should always let all of their health care providers know about treatments that they receive from all the others.

2. Holistic Medicine Isn’t Mainstream

In fact, scientists and doctors do perform studies on all sorts of alternative therapies to determine their effectiveness. These therapies, like acupuncture and an improved diet, pass the test of science and then get integrated into standard medical practices.

3. Natural Doctors Don’t Use Conventional Medicine

No credible natural doctor will ever tell a patient to replace prescribed medication without consulting with his or her original doctor. In many cases, the MD and natural practitioner are the same person. If not, they will coordinate treatment to benefit the health of the patient.

4. Alternative Medicine Doesn’t Work

Actual licensed health providers won’t just suggest natural therapies on a whim. They will consider scientific studies and their own experience to suggest therapies that do work. Countless studies have, for example, confirmed that acupuncture is an effective treatment for many medical conditions. Also, the right dietary changes are known to help improve health and even minimize or cure some diseases. Numerous other alternative therapies have been proven effective using scientific studies.

5. Big Medical Institutions are Against Alternative Medicine

According to a recent survey, about half of big insurers pay for tested alternative therapies like acupuncture. Also, hospitals and doctors do recognize that lifestyle changes, some herbal remedies, and other kinds of alternative medicine may reduce side effects, allow patients to reduce prescription medicine, and even lower medical bills.

This is not to say that every insurer, doctor, or hospital will support a particular treatment. However, patients are beginning to take more control of their health care. If their own providers won’t suggest natural remedies, it might be a good idea to find one who does.

The Best Medicine Combines Conventional and Alternative Medicine

Everyone needs to find the right health care providers to enjoy the safest and most natural care possible. Good natural health providers will have a solid education in their field. Nobody should just abandon their medical treatment to pursue alternative cures. However, seeking alternative therapies may help many people reduce their reliance on harsh medications by following the advice of alternative providers and coordinating their care with all of their health care providers.

END OF COHEN’S TEXT

COMMENT BY MYSELF

Who the Dickens is Dr Cohen and what is his background? I asked myself after reading this. From his website, it seems that he is a chiropractor from North Carolina – not just any old chiro, but one of the best!!! – who also uses several other dubious therapies. He sums up his ‘philosophy’ as follows:

There is an energy or life force that created us (all 70 trillion cells that we are made of) from two cells (sperm and egg cells). This energy or innate intelligence continues to support you throughout life and allows you to grow, develop, heal, and express your every potential. This life force coordinates all cells, tissues, muscles and organs by sending specific, moment by moment communication via the nervous system. If the nervous system is over-stressed or interfered with in any way, then your life force messages will not be properly expressed.

Here he is on the cover of some magazine and here is also his ‘PAIN CLINIC’

naturopathic-doctor-greenville-nc

Fascinating stuff, I am sure you agree.

As I do not want to risk a libel case, I will abstain from commenting on Dr Cohen and his methods or beliefs. Instead I will try to clear up a few misconceptions that are pertinent to him and the many other practitioners who are promoting pure BS via the Internet.

  • Not everyone who uses the title ‘Dr’ is a doctor in the sense of having studied medicine.
  • Chiropractors are not ‘trained medical professionals’.
  • The concepts of ‘vitalism’, ‘life force’ etc. have been abandoned in real heath care a long time ago, and medicine has improved hugely because of this.
  • Hardly any alternative therapy has ‘passed the test of science’.
  • Therefore, it is very doubtful whether alternative practitioners actually will ‘consider scientific studies’.
  • True, some trials did suggest that acupuncture is an effective treatment for many medical conditions; but their methodological quality is often far too low to draw firm conclusions and many other, often better studies have shown the contrary.
  • Numerous other alternative therapies have been proven ineffective using scientific studies.
  • Therefore it might be a good idea to find a health care provider who does not offer unproven treatments simply to make a fast buck.
  • Seeking alternative therapies may harm many people.

6 Responses to Common misconceptions about alternative medicine

  • I needed a good laugh this morning. Thanks for supplying just that!

  • “The concepts of ‘vitalism’, ‘life force’ etc. have been abandoned in real heath care a long time ago, and medicine has improved hugely because of this.”

    It’s often argued (by people like Rupert Sheldrake, for eg.,) that vitalism was rejected because it doesn’t fit materialistic scientific dogma. But looking through the enormous list of discarded theories from the last 300 years, one sees a ton of “materialistic” theories as well, that were also discarded for the same reason as the vitalistic ones — because they didn’t work.

    In fact those materialistic hypotheses were discarded at pretty much the earliest possible moment, with a minimum of fuss. Their vitalistic cousins, however are *still* being carefully tested and given royal treatment (heh heh) for fear of upsetting people, and diplomatically coddled with phrases like “requires more research” rather than “unpromising, discard asap”.

  • When one’s primary skill set has only been shown effective for one problem – lower back pain, other profit centers become necessary. Pain treatment is a good choice since it waxes and wanes. It is also known to have a large psychological component. I am certain that this “Dr.” can effectively treat the dislocation of the spine caused by carrying a fat wallet.

    In the US I go by “Dr” as a dentist. In the UK dentists and surgeons customarily go by “Mr”. I think chiropractors go by Dr. wherever possible. But then they are holistic. Universally to me holistic means avoid. Such is language – Cheers.

    • Dentists in the UK won the right to be called ‘Dr’ years ago.

      Apparently, on 5 March 2015 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons voted overwhelmingly to permit its members to use the courtesy title of “Doctor”, although it has to be used with the affix “veterinary surgeon” or “MRCVS” to ensure no confusion with human doctors.

  • Declarations about diets and their ability to treat diseases always remind me our mainstream gastroenterologist (actually surprisingly well liked for a conventional doctor) who always stresses that there are few conditions that require special diets (e.g. coeliac disease and chronic pancreatitis), but otherwise human just needs to choose different foods and do not overdo with any of them.

  • Prof,
    Would you please not refer to chiropractors as doctors or use the title of “Dr” in front of their name? It gives them an undeserved credibility. Even though using D.C. after their names makes me nauseous, at least the word “doctor” is not used directly.

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