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Trick Or Treatment

Alternative Medicine on Trial

Simon Singh and Edward Ernst

For 2400 years, patients believed doctors were doing them good: for 2300 years they were wrong.

Authors go through, one by one, all the most popular alternative therapies - acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractics and herbal medicine - and ask for the evidence that any 'work'. And come to conclusion that at best useless, at worst dangerous to patient. For example 'real' acupuncture works no better than sham acupuncture (needles stuck in anywhere), so its the placebo effect that's working.

They believe that it matters. 1) because if alt med works only by placebo effect, then its a ripoff 2) relies on doctor convincing patient that he's getting a magic pill or whatever 3) if patient puts faith in bogus remedy he puts off getting real treatment for a problem which may get worse with the delay.

"Without evidence-based medicine we risk falling into the trap of considering useless treatments as helpful or helpful treatments as useless. Without evidence based medicine we are likely to ignore the best treatments and instead rely on treatments that are mediocre, or poor or useless or dangerous, thereby increasing the suffering of patients"

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