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Alternative medicine, like alternative facts, is the exact opposite of its noun. Medicine is something which has been tested and shown to be beneficial to health. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, has not been tested or has been shown to not be beneficial to health.
When something that is in the list of “alternative” medicines is found to actually be good for you, it becomes medicine and is no longer “alternative”. Therefore, by using “alternative medicine”, you are intentionally gambling with your life.
Even if an alternative medicine appears to be harmless, it may still cause death when the patient decides to use the alternative medicine instead of real medicine. Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed in a study of 840 people that people were nearly 6 times more likely to die of their cancer if they chose to use alternative medicine instead of real medicine.
Homeopathy is a common form of alternative medicine. It was invented in the late 18th century by a doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who was distressed at the state of medicine at the time, which included leeches, blood-letting, and purges, and wanted to provide something that was less invasive. The philosophy behind his belief was a “law of similars”, which suggested that you can cure a disease by treating with something “similar”. There was no science in this. He just liked the idea. Remember that this was the 18th century – medicine really hadn’t got much science behind it at all. Bacteria had not been discovered, even diseases were thought to be just an “imbalance of humours”, so homeopathy was just as sensible at that time as any other “medicine”.
However, time has moved on, and we know a lot more about how people’s bodies actually work, and one thing we are certain of, as proven over and over by people that actually test these things, is that homeopathy does not work.
People die from homeopathy when they start believing that it is more powerful than medicine. They stop taking the medicine which is designed to cure their illness, and they start drinking water, which is just water. They then die. For example, a man campaigning for a political party died because he stopped using his prescribed heart medication and used homeopathy instead. A nine-month-old child died of malnutrition because her homeopath father decided to treat her with his homeopathic remedies instead of bringing her to the doctor. In an ironic twist of karma, a high-profile homeopath from the Netherlands proclaimed on Twitter that his homeopathy can cure cancer – he then died of cancer.
Because homeopathy is not medicine, the manufacturers of homeopathic remedies do not bother proving that their products are safe. Instead, they just assume they are, and sell them. This results in deaths. In 2016, a homeopathic producer was investigated for the deaths of 10 children, and adverse effects in 400 other children. These are products that were on sale in pharmacies. Pharmacies should know better than to sell non-medically-tested products that claim to do medical things.
Chiropractic practitioners claim that by manipulating the spine and limbs, they can cure various illnesses, including asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. There is absolutely no evidence for this. Chiropractic has been tested in clinical trials, and the only benefit ever shown to actually exist is that it can relieve some back pain. That is all. People who practice chiropractic and claim that it is medical in nature run the risk of practicing medicine without a licence. In fact, the inventor, D D Palmer, was himself jailed for exactly that. The only benefit ever proven from chiropractic is that it can relieve some back pain, but it has been known to kill people, including babies.
A number of strokes have been caused directly by chiropractic manipulation of the spine. An article reporting on the mechanism pointed out that the vertebral artery can be “dissected” by manipulation of the neck, leading to stroke and damage to the brain-stem.
Acupuncture involves people sticking needles into other people, thinking that they are “tuning” the body by doing this. Clinical trials of acupuncture show that there is no difference at all in the patient between a trained acupuncturist placing needles into precise locations designed to cure ailments, and a researcher placing needles into a random location.
Deaths directly caused by acupuncture tend to be because of organ perforation, infection from unsterile needles, or in some cases needles breaking off inside the body. Professor Edzard Ernst wrote a paper documenting 86 deaths caused by acupuncture.
I think the main thing you should understand from all of the above is that alternative medicine does not heal people. At the best, it works as a placebo. At its worst, though, alternative medicine will either kill you directly, or kill you indirectly by encouraging you to avoid real medical help.