Alternative Medicine

A month or two under a year ago, I was required along with the rest of my social class to do research on the political parties running in the 2012 Alberta General Election. They have since removed their platform for that election from their website, but on it the Progressive Conservative Party pledged up to five hundred dollars in tax credits to every Albertan for money spent on alternative medicine.

And today, I saw an article on the use of alternative medicine by children. That disheartened me. To quote Richard Dawkins,
If a healing technique is demonstrated to have curative properties in properly controlled double-blind trials, it ceases to be alternative. It simply becomes medicine.
 The first rebuttal to that which comes to mind is that medicine can be subjected to tests and trials for years before becoming publicly available, and that alternative medicine is available right away. To that, I must point out that the reason medicine is subjected to so many tests and trials is to ensure that it is safe. Here is a list of major drugs which were withdrawn from the shelves because they had adverse reactions. All of the drugs on that list, possibly excluding the older ones, were subjected to trials before they were approved for use by the general public. Those trials help to see if the drugs will have any negative side effects and to determine their effectiveness. Alternative medicines are either not subjected to those trials or have failed those trials, be it for negative side effects, inefficacy or both.

And now, back to my first paragraph. As it was on the Progressive Conservatives' platform, and they won the election, it should... actually, given what generally happens in politics, it's not surprising that they have not actually done anything about that, as far as I am aware. It is, however, a relief.
Money spent on alternative medicine is money spent on discredited medicine, fraud or an expensive placebo.
What is a better idea is to simply trust doctors. The placebo effect is very real - that it is illegal in some places for doctors to give placebos to their patients without informing them of it, and thus ruining the effect, is distressing. People who have studied and practiced medicine for years are not allowed to give a sick person fake medicine, but someone who knows how to put the word quantum in front of their product's name is, in some cases, encouraged to.

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