2018-06-24

Know The Alternative Medicine Jargon

"...One of my favourite essays describes some of the tactics used by SCAM advocates to promote their services.
Treat a non-existent condition: There’s nothing better than treating a condition the patient doesn’t even have. From the chiropractor’s subluxation to the acupuncturist’s chi blockage, these diagnoses are made up by the practitioner, and have no basis in reality.
Maintenance treatment: Persuade the patient who is healthy that they need “maintenance” treatments to stay healthy, such as IV vitamin infusions or the chiropractor recommending regular adjustments for spinal alignment. To the worried well, this may sound attractive, but it isn’t based on any objective benefit.
Things must get worse before they get better: Patients may feel nothing, or even worse, after a SCAM treatment. Practitioners may describe this as a “healing crisis”, an imaginary phenomena. In the case of conditions that are chronic or wax and wane, the practitioner can attribute worsening to the “healing crisis” and claim any improvement as evidence of effectiveness.
A cure takes a long time: To continue SCAM treatments despite a lack of any improvement is hard to justify on medical grounds, but practitioners make this claim routinely.
The problem is due to conventional medicine: With a nod to the conspiracy theories that are endemic to SCAM, problems are often blamed on conventional medicine. You see this routinely in harms or circumstances attributed to therapies like vaccines.
Detox: A marketing slogan and not an actual treatmentCAM proponents claim detox will rid the bodyof non-specified “toxins” that conventional medicine fails to acknowledge or treat.
The test of time: Some SCAMs have been around for hundreds of years (or more). SCAM advocates point to this long history of use as evidence of safety and effectiveness. Ernst points to bloodletting as a treatment with a long history of use that was appropriately discarded when the human body became better understood.
Energy: Energy is one of those terms that means whatever the SCAM practitioner wants it to mean, but it’s usually a proxy for “vital force“. Energy just sounds more scientific. While vitalism has been discarded by science-based medicine, it’s at the root of many SCAMs, like naturopathy.
Stimulating the immune system: Demonstrating rather startling ignorance of immunity, SCAM“stimulation” is a placebo. Moreover, it’s probably something we wouldn’t want to do, if we could."