Alternative Medicine Has Its Advantages

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Mabley

After the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted an issue to alternative medicine, I asked a doctor friend for his reaction.

"Well, there's something to it," he responded. He offered details on what some herbs and alternative procedures could do.

"But they haven't been sufficiently tested," he said. "I'd be cautious using them."

In one controlled test, 86 percent of men who took medication for baldness reported it worked. But 42 percent of men given a placebo also said it worked.

The AMA report triggered news media attention to alternative medicine. Time magazine's cover story this week is "The Herbal Medicine Boom."

The Daily Herald carried a lengthy story. The Wall Street Journal chipped in with a friendly editorial and a health column with the headline "Patients Need to Keep Their Doctors Informed About Herbal Therapies."

Correct. But most patients do not tell their physicians about going to a chiropractor or taking gingko or using homeopathy.

But doctors are becoming increasingly receptive to nontraditional treatment.

The Journal said 40 percent of Americans use alternative medicine. I think the figure is higher.

The AMA study found chiropractic doesn't work for headaches. OK, but I'll testify it's awfully good for a sore back.

Massage is alternative therapy. I love massage under any label.

Hypnosis is on the list. Some years back my wife was pregnant and really, really sick.

Her obstetrician referred her to another doctor who practiced hypnosis along with conventional medicine.

My wife was extremely skeptical but willing to try. I sat in the doctor's office and watched him put a small darning needle through her wrist.

Then he talked to her about her sickness. …