Is anyone here a fan of any of these (acupuncture, homeopathy, etc) or think there is a single one that holds any merit?    My SIL is a Reiki practitioner.    I can all but not laugh out loud when she shows me her hand waving and listen to the bull shit about the energy around us and how one can learn to manipulate it with some hand motions and thoughts and symbols.  I  cannot believe she charges people for this.    She's really a nice person, albeit gullible and truly doesn't feel she's ripping anybody off.   She really and truly believes in this crap with all her heart.    And she paid good money to take classes, so she's victim of the rip off as well and I feel bad telling her how I think she's a fool.

It's a bit hard to be polite and not laugh in her face, but she knows how I feel and just thinks I'm the misguided one, lol.   Still, its amazing people can go for this junk science. 

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I think there are some genuine treatments that get labeled as 'alternative.' 17 years of western medicine was hardly able to touch a shoulder/neck injury of mine that did a good deal of muscle and nerve damage. It was a western doc to suggested Shiatsu massage. First time in two decades I was not in second-to-second, minute-to-minute pain.

But every body and every injury is different. The Shiatsu that works great on me might do nothing or even be harmful to you.

It's also not a stretch that our bodies are one big electrical conductor. Sometimes, manipulating one area affects another (epidural anyone?). There's a pressure point in the hand that is well known for helping with headaches (read 'helping.' Again, everyone and every headache is different). There's a pressure point in the foot I used to use all the time to relieve menstrual cramps.

I've had Chinese cupping done to relieve a back injury (see the new remake of "Karate Kid;" the technique is featured in the film). Once again, every body and every injury is different. For me, it certainly wasn't the instant miracle cure it is in the film. But like massage, it instantly loosened up the muscles which sped up the natural healing process.

However, these and other practices that fall under 'alternative' are also often poorly researched and get little to no regulation. This opens the door for an awful lot of snake oil salesmen and unqualified practitioners. Reiki is one of those that is such a broad umbrella. When a parent kisses her child's boo-boo, that is the principle of Reiki; therapeutic touch, having another, sympathetic human being helps 'absorb' the pain. This has been absolutely proven to work on a psychological level. But how much is it doing physically? Don't know. I'm not overly confident.

The danger I think is that we have a black/white, all/nothing mentality. It either IS the miracle cure or it does absolutely nothing. To me, much of this is a supplement (save for the Shiatsu, which has saved my sanity). We go straight for the scalpel or the drugs without considering a much simpler cause or solution. I had one doctor go straight for the hard, chemical, acid-reflux drug when I later learned all I needed to do was change a few eating habits and the acid reflux was cured.

I'm back on anti-depressants, but I'm thinking it would be healthier to get out from under all my stress instead. Working on it, but until then, the anti-depressants work great. Again; it doesn't need to be one OR the other. They can work hand in hand. The snake oil salesmen can be wildly misleading and dangerous. But so can the pharmaceutical companies talking you into demanding your doc give you the latest and greatest happy pill.
I've had direct (and quite spectacular) evidence that auriculotherapy can sometimes work (and there's no chance the cases I witnessed were due to a placebo effect.)
From what she's shown me, Reiki involves no touch at all. Its literally hand waving that's supposed to manipulate the energy around the subject and harnessing the energy of the "divine". I see no possible effect from this, other than placebo. I have never heard of auriculotherapy. Tell us more about what you've witnessed.
I had never heard of Reiki before. I only brought up auriculotherapy because you mentioned acupuncture in your opening post (auriculotherapy can be seen as a specialized form of modern acupuncture), and because it's still considered alternative or fringe medicine.

My father is a retired medical doctor (the 'standard' type), who took a liking of auriculotherapy when he got aware of it at a medical conference. Although he never practiced auriculotherapy professionally, he sometimes experimented with it on members of his own family. His greatest achievement was to cure his mother-in-law of a persistent pain she had had in her right forearm for more than ten years. And it was spectacular:

She was sitting in an armchair while he lightly pressured various points of her ear with a kneeting needle. She was quite skeptical about it, and before a minute had passed she began ranting about "all these strange medicines that only heal healthy people". Suddenly, she stopped in the middle of a sentence with a loud scream and a jump (the one and only time I've seen her jump), and complained that my father had pierced her ear through to the bone. But that feeling only lasted for a few seconds, and then she realized the pain in her arm was gone.

Unfortunately, auriculotherapy was ineffective in curing my rhinitis :(
Bullshit meter indicates RED.
-hand waving
"Sympathetic magic" and placebo. The human mind is capable of doing a lot of weird things and both have been shown to have beneficial effects in some circumstances. But they have never been shown to have reproducible beneficial effects. I have no problem with nutjobs experimenting with any of this mumbo-jumbo - just like I have no problem any other form of gambling or idiotic extreme sports. As long as no one is hurt and you don't suck public funds (especially when it comes to cleaning up the mess) it's none of my business. I do have a problem with quacks earning an easy living out of it with no ultimate responsibility to their patients. Doctors face malpractice suits for mis-diagnosis and treatment. If the same applied to homeopaths and their cancer curing spas in Mexico, great. But it doesn't, so quacks can kill indiscriminately and walk away with the cash. I also have a problem when they dress it up as "science", yet get snarky when scientific method exposes them for the frauds they are. They can't have it both ways - if it's "science" then it has to play by science's rules. To have an issue with that is nothing less than an admission of fraud. It's not a convenience store.
Yes I also agree with Felch. It is all woo woo.
I am surprised at some of the atheists on here. They sure are not demonstrating skepticism.
I am surprised at some of the atheists on here. They sure are not demonstrating skepticism.

I am skeptical that the West is the absolute peak of civilization and technology and has discovered everything there is to discover in the field of medicine.

I am skeptical of the notion that just because a bunch of brown-skinned people in loin cloths discovered it 4,000 years ago, it can't possibly be an effective medicine or treatment.

I am skeptical when the entities doing the testing have everything to gain monetarily and in terms of reputation by the thing not passing the test.
"I am skeptical that the West is the absolute peak of civilization and technology and has discovered everything there is to discover in the field of medicine."

This is a ridiculous statement. Medical science has never proclaimed any such thing. They are busy curing the diseases they KNOW how to cure and doing research (of the scientific kind) on diseases they don't.

"because a bunch of brown-skinned people in loin cloths discovered it 4,000 years ago, it can't possibly be an effective medicine or treatment"

Who says that? What most sleptics will say is that it needs to be demonstrated how those 4K yrs old cures work. And in the cases where they do work, pls strip them of their supernatural crap.

"the entities doing the testing have everything to gain monetarily "

a) Nobody works for nothing (when they do it for a living) b) Science has a built-in method to weed-out cheaters, it's called peer-review. It doesn't work all the time, granted, (it is entertained by humans, after all) but Modern Science and the scientific establishment are able to adapt and change if need be, it's part of the process.

I'm skeptical of your skepticism.
It is the general implication/attitude that Western = Peak of civilization. Modern = better. Ancient/Non-Western = Woo.

Yes, the West has led the way in industry and technology. Yes, Modern medicine is almost always better than the home remedy.


I feel it is too easy to close the door on other possibilities because they are ancient or have been embraced by the New Agers. I keep saying I really, really wish the New Agers would embrace the Republican Party so more people would reject the Republicans for the sole reason that New Agers like them, therefore they must be crackpots. But I digress...

On that shelf full of useless herbal remedies, might be one or two that actually work or lead to something that works. But by categorizing it as Woo-therefore-ineffective, those remedies are in danger of being passed over for genuine scientific study.

And it's not unreasonable to say that if I am the Big Pharma CEO raking in billions off my patented drug, I am sure as hell not going to pay some researcher to prove that something you can grow in your own garden for free is just as effective. I will however pay my researchers to heavily publicize that free thing in the garden as Woo so no one else takes a serious look at it either.

That is where my skepticism lies. I am skeptical of snake oil salesmen. The ones who promote the crackpot ideas, but also when conventional wisdom is being sold to me with the same I-have-the-truth-don't-you-dare-look-elsewhere tactics. The truth can stand up to scrutiny. Those afraid to stand up to scrutiny earn my skepticism.
Jo, you seem to be implying that alternate therapies have not been studied. They have many times. Those that have worked are no longer considered alternative. It doesn't help them when they are shrouded in woo, though.




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