Herbal Practices

Echinacea. Chiropractic. Gingko Biloba. Acupuncture. What do all these have in common? They are all part of what is known collectively as ‘alternative medicine?. Readers may not be surprised to find disciplines such as ?;Therapeutic Touch? and acupuncture grouped under this label, but may be shocked to find that some seemingly well-established remedies such as chiropractic and vitamin supplements possess little or no scientific evidence for their claims. Partially for this reason, it is hard to (1) identify exactly what alternative medicine is and (2) what should be done about it.
Alternative medicine, primarily, is any discipline claiming to alleviate health problems which relies on an uncorroborated theory ?V that is, a theory which has little or no scientific evidence to back it up. (It is a common misconception that testimonials can somehow count as evidence that a practice works, and this is used often in commercials. Even if the testimonial is sincere, it is quite possible that a treatment has nothing to do with a recovery. Testimonials are often guilty of post hoc ergo prompter hoc, or ?;after which, therefore because of?.) This means any of a plethora of practices may fall under the blanket term. Many alternative medicine (or ‘AM?) disciplines have been proven to have no detectable effect on patients, and yet still have adherents ?V practitioners of Krieger?s Therapeutic Touch, for instance, have proven unable to detect the ‘human energy field? their discipline insists all humans have (Rosa et. Al. 1008). Nevertheless, thousands of nurses still practice it. Other disciplines have shown themselves to produce some benefit, but are based on theories with no backing. Chiropractic care, for instance, can relieve back pain through spinal manipulation; but the theory behind chiropractic ?V the ‘theory of subluxators?, which ?§states that misaligned or ‘subluxated? vertebrae cause ‘nerve interference tha…

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