Alternative therapies: What Does The Evidence Say?

A number of alternative therapies are available today that claim to cure or improve all sorts of disorders. We all know someone who was “fixed” by one of these therapies and who swears by them.

So why don’t we?

It’s not that simple. Although we all know someone who has benefitted from alternative therapies, in most cases, there is simply not enough evidence to show that these therapies are as effective as conventional medicine.

And that is because conventional medicine has to go through all sorts of hoops before it gets anywhere near treating an actual patient: new drugs need to be tested in the lab, both in vitro and in experiments with animals extensively before they will be allowed to be tested in humans.

Government agencies and international entities regulate the use of these drugs and treatments, set out guidelines and determine the amount and nature of work needed to guarantee the safety of their use. Even when the system is this thorough, mistakes are made, and people are hurt.

In the case of alternative therapies, this process simply hasn’t happened or at least hasn’t happened as thoroughly as for conventional drugs. Yes, someone’s allergies were cured after some homeopathy, but this event is not backed up by years of testing on thousands of patients in different countries carried out under strict protocols.

Conventional medicine is anything but perfect, but it is wide open to scrutiny, self-correcting and heavily regulated and controlled to provide for patient safety. Anything that is given to a patient has been thoroughly tested, and several agencies and entities monitor and regulate the use of drugs and treatments.

When mistakes happen – and they do – lessons are learned from them, and steps are taken to prevent these from happening again. For most alternative therapies, this just isn’t the case.

Read more at The Irish Times