Acupuncture, chiropractic, herbalism, homeopathy, etc.
I'd be interested to know what everyone thought of these various forms of treatment. I myself have had a lot of help from these forms, especially since both my acupuncturist and herbalist recommended the paleo diet.
Also, can a chiro really treat a hiatal hernia? My mom has one and I've been reading about it on the web, but I notice chiros tend to claim to be able to cure everything from digestive issues to world hungry.
Permit me to get on my soapbox.
It's a huge pet peeve of mine that we compare alternative/complementary/holistic medicine to allopathic (Western) medicine. Western medicine treats the body as a machine. You manipulate the input (the drug) and hopefully you get the result you want with few side effects, or you treat the side effects with more drugs. When you're in an acute crisis (heart attack, got run over by a truck, and other immediate life threatening illnesses, Western medicine has the best technology to keep you alive. For chronic illness, it's not so great.
The holistic paradigm is very different. If someone is ill they might do a combination of diet changes, herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic, lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, and other modalities TOGETHER. That's the point of holistic healing. You're looking for something deeper than some superficial imbalance that you're going to throw a drug at. You're looking for a number of shifts that you can make together to help someone heal.
When we come to a paleo diet to heal their illnesses I imagine that many of us also quit smoking, get more sleep, slow down, maybe focus more on our relationships. In other words, many of us are making a number of changes, holistically, to improve our lives. And, these holistic changes can take much longer to sink in than a drug that targets one symptom.
When Western medicine wants to poo poo alternative medicine, it's really easy. They pick one intervention (let's say herbs), they give test subjects a pitifully low dose of the herb, wait a short period of time, and report that nothing happens. They're using their paradigm to discredit a whole other paradigm. That's comparing apples to oranges.
So, when someone asks me if herbs work, or acupuncture, or chiropractic, my answer is always -- it depends. It depends on the skill of the practitioner, the power of their technology, and very much on what else the client is doing to heal themselves. So, it's not a simple question of whether something is quackery or not. It takes much more investigation to answer that question and everyone will have their own answer. But, there's no simple answer even with Western medicine either.
Some of it is good, some of it is bad, some of it has really useful placebo effect which fits nicely into the "do no harm" injunction. It's hard to find good reliable research due to problems with funding, especially with drug companies providing so much of the funding out there.
Some people have a tendency to buy any alternative therapy on faith. A lot of times that isn't a problem (see placebo effect), but when people with really serious illness neglect to seek professional help because they are pursuing alt therapy on their own or from a less than ethical practitioner, that can be deadly.
That isn't to say to just by what the first doctor you see tells you. There's a huge amount of BS out there. It means to do the work. Get a second or third diagnosis from the best docs in the field that you can find.
Do the research, on both the conventional and alternative therapies. Make sure that the research is reliable. Sometimes the science will support the conventional, sometimes alternate therapies. If you consider diet an alt therapy, it and lifestyle changes are the best for diabetes type 2, prediabetes etc IMO. A lot of times an alt therapy will be extremely useful in conjunction with conventional.
Just don't buy into something on faith. Go with the science.
Herbs/herbalism work because herbs are FOOD - they are true compounds with significant chemical power to alter our body chemistry in a (hopefully) positive way.
Homeopathy is bull and until someone comes out with a study showing homeopathy has ANY effect, nobody should waste their money on overpriced water.*
As far as chiropracty, acupuncture, and herbalism I say it depends on how they're used and what they're used to treat. I think they can help in some cases, do nothing, or hurt in others. It depends on context, but I don't rule them out and I appreciate discussion of their merits.
Except for homeopathy. That stuff is wierd. I don't buy it at all.
I used to think that all those naturopaths, herbal doctors and acupuncturist were nothing but people who took advantage of poor innocent "naive" patients. I thought they were there to take your money and sell you a bunch of voodoo medicine.
Till I got so sick that all "traditional" medicine could not figure out what was wrong with me. A friend of mine kept telling me about a herbal doctor that really helped her, but even then, feeling like I was dying, I was reluctant to see him - I thought - if a normal doctor does not know what is wrong with me - how in the world some herbal doctor would know?
I was wrong. Very very wrong. As soon as I started taking herbal medicine, I got much better within a matter of days. And, even though I am not fully recovered yet, I cannot function without my herbal medicine. Literally, my life was saved because of some Chinese herbs with names that are difficult to pronounce.
I have also heard many interesting experiences from people who went for acupuncture. From everything I heard, it really helps.
So, I wish all those insurance companies would cover certified Chinese herbal doctors and holistic nutritionists because THEY REALLY HELP.
If nothing else works, go alternative. I swear by it.
Homeopathy always irked me for some reason. I feel it's like when hipster kids started wearing thick-black rimmed glasses and ruined the Buddy Holly look for everybody. Basically, there's quacks in every profession. I've had a dozen urologists say, "All your tests are normal...here! Try this drug!" I don't doubt the power of the placebo effect, BUT I don't think herbalism by a true herbalist nor acupuncture is placebo per say. I know some people pretty damn resistant to the placebo effect, and that stuff works for them. I think some times certain things work better than others, and I also think that holistic healing takes a lot longer (whether it be from diet, supplements, herbs, whatever) than modern medicine. Now, if I get shot, I'm going to the friggin' hospital. If I want a diagnosis, I'll see the doctor. If I want the possibility of a cure, I'm going to look anywhere I can.
And as far as Quackwatch goes...Stephen Barrett has more stink on him than my ZC shit does. There's a lot more reputable people questioning him than the other way around. Plus, I've read far too many articles where he'll quote a study with three people taking an herb, and it works for one and not the other two and he says, "With a 66% failure rate, and clearly one placebo. Chamomile cannot be considered of any benefit."
But then there is this to consider
As VB said above. "If nothing else works, go alternative." That's what I did.
I struggled with a back ache and digestion problems for several years. My doctor was not a lot of help. I felt like I was being treated as a hypochondriac. I was told to take painkillers for my back and was fobbed off with different things about my digestion.
Eventually, he sent me to have some tests at the hospital and to speak to a doctor there. While sat in the waiting area, I noticed that all of the nurses looked unhealthy. I then went in to see this other doctor. Her face was covered in red blotches. I remember thinking to myself "What the hell am I doing in this place?" I was very unhappy with the way I was treated there and never went back.
My girlfriend at the time, brought a naturopthic healing book home from the library. It talked about fresh and natural foods etc. I was interested. At the back of the book was a list of practicioners. I called the nearest one to me and booked an appointment. I followed the advice given and my health started to improve almost straight away.
At about the same time, I also started going to a great chiro. He did the usual joint manipulations. I felt great afterwards but had to go quite often at the beginning. He advised me on some exercises that I could do. I now make sure to strengthen my lower back etc. He also told me that the sore patch on the top of my left ear was in fact, gout.
My back is good these days and I have not needed a chiro in years. Pretty good, considering that I used to have at least one day off work per month with back problems. I put it down to taking the advice from the chiro and actually doing the exercises at home, unlike most people that don't bother with the suggested exercises and just expect the manipulations to fix them.
I see a chiropractor twice a week and an acupuncturist every two weeks. They have helped far more than Western medicine. Sinus infections are treated with herbs and saline rinses; allergies are treated with herbs. Hubby is allergic to fish and shellfish, so we do keep an Epi-pen and Benedryl on hand just in case.
Western medicine has its place in critical situations, but for chronic issues, I prefer to go the natural route. You do have to be careful. There are quacks in every field, in both "alternative" and Western medicine. Research every bit of information and get a second opinion when something seems off.
The good thing about chiropractors is (1) they can think outside of the box, unlike most MDs, (2) they don't and can't (thank God) prescribe drugs, (3) they know anatomy and physiology, and (4) they understand that the body heals itself, unlike MDs who fancy that they are gods and do all of the healing. Other than that, which is actually a very good place to start from, there is nothing magical about chiropractors. If a chiropractor has done his homework or if the problem resides in the back, a chiropractor can be of great help.