For years I was convinced acupuncture was a valid medical procedure with clear benefits backed by reams of good evidence. Although I never did believe in the meridian qi energy theories associated with this treatment, I routinely encouraged clients and friends to add acupuncture to their health and wellness toolbox. After all, the Chinese people have been utilizing acupuncture for approximately 2500 to 4000 years and it has stood the test of time, right? – turns out this is not completely true. Many U.S. health insurance companies reimburse their customers for the service, believing it brings quantifiable benefits. However, skeptics suspect this simply makes prudent fiscal sense because acupuncture is a cheaper payout than traditional medical care. In an effort to appease customer demand, many prestigious hospitals have added acupuncture to their wellness and rehab programs despite pushback from the scientific community. The anecdotal evidence was and is overwhelming. I constantly hear intelligent thoughtful people talk about the efficacy and personal success in regards to the treatment. Almost unbelievably, the United States Military started using acupuncture to treat pain on the battlefield (they also practice cupping – our tax dollars hard at work). How can all these hospitals, insurers, government agencies and smart people be wrong? After doing a deep dive into the research and talking with a few doctors and scientists I am no longer convinced acupuncture treatment is better than a placebo. As it turns out, it makes no difference where you put the needle. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you use a needle at all! In the best-controlled studies, only one thing mattered: whether the patients believed they were getting acupuncture. Even then, people responded no better than the placebo control. Continue readingby
Alternative medicine is born from pseudoscience. It is an alternative to what is proven to work. Anecdata, placebos, epidemiological studies, cherry-picked data and the internet form the foundation of alternative medicine. These modalities generate the framework onto which the logical fallacies and cognitive biases supporting alternative medicine are presented.
Evidence-based medicine, on the other hand, emerges from unbiased robust data pointing to verifiable and reproducible results. Well designed double-blind randomized controlled trials are the cornerstone of evidence-based medicine; look at the Cochrane group: ‘Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care resources. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation’. Pseudoscience is enticing because it’s easy to understand and offers cures. Here is a short list of alternative medicine practices that haven’t been proven to work better than a placebo: Continue readingby