Follow us:

Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 15, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Alternatives to medical treatment

Not so crazy

Rob Stein’s Dec. 11 story summarizes a 2007 survey showing that more than one third of U.S. adults use alternatives to medical treatment, most often for musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain [“Use of alternatives to traditional medicine holding steady,” Nation & World].

In an attempt to present a balanced story, Stein quotes longtime critics of alternative therapies and self-proclaimed “quackwatchers” who disparage these therapies as being “either unproven or disproved,” “placebo” (acupuncture), or “one step above fraud” (homeopathy).

One critic cites the wide use of alternative treatments as “evidence of how gullible large segments of our society are.” Given that persons with more education are more likely to use these treatments, could explanations other than gullibility explain the widespread use of these treatments? For example, maybe persons suffering from persistent pain or other afflictions that have not responded to “proven” medical therapies have found alternative therapies helpful.

A recent review by the American College Physicians and American Pain Society, found acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation and yoga as effective as conventional medical treatments for low back pain. Given the limitations and risks of both conventional and alternative medicine and the fact that one in three American adults appear to find alternative treatments helpful, research evaluating their safety and effectiveness seems well justified.

— Dan Cherkin, Seattle

Comments | More in Health care

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►