NURSE KAT ON: Alternative Medicine – Trick or Treatment?


I was lucky enough to receive a book called “Trick or Treatment?” written by Simon Singha & Edzard Ernst. The book covered the topic of alternative medicine including Acupuncture, Reflexology, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy to name a few.

The book was written by Doctors and researched heavily including fully executing double blind studies in most areas. I have formed my own beliefs on alternative health but wanted to bring some questions to your mind about it as well. Especially around the area of Chiropractics.

I have presented the subject to Nurse Kat for discussion with her colleagues, she has provided some great insights here. I highly recommend EVERYONE picking up a copy of this book and reading it cover to cover. It will definitely be a regular gift I give out during the holiday season.

Thanks Kat!:

Alternative treatments have been a matter of debate for years and each side can find studies to support their arguments.

Although I disagree with many aspects of our health care system, I would like to think that if there was conclusive evidence to support alternative therapy, it would be covered by our health care plan, for example massage or physiotherapy.

Overall, if a person believes something will work, it probably will, and whether the benefits are real or believed does not matter. The placebo effect has been proven time and again, including in our western approach to medicine. Furthermore, seeking ANY type of treatment is a proactive and for me, a positive step.

The one type of energy treatment I do recommend is acupuncture. The possible negative effects are so minimal (it will work or it won’t, you wont have an increase in pain) that the benefits outweigh the risks. Also, in order to practice in Canada, the courses required are in depth and a practitioner must have a very good understanding of nerve pathways, muscles, etc. Many physiotherapist compliment their practice with acupuncture.

In speaking with some patients, some have also found relief with this treatment and I have seen none come in with complications, unlike a visit to the chiropractor. Patients have come in with the problem worsened, not fixed or a new problem.

I would be weary of only seeking alternative treatment, herbalists, etc for a condition. A doctor, an understanding and open one (good luck) should follow a person throughout an illness. A problem may go undiagnosed and get worse if a doctor is not aware.

After all this time, the human body remains largely a mystery and I don’t think we have the knowledge to test for many states of disease, let alone their treatments and effectiveness of them. I would stay away from any person that claims to have the one and only cure.

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