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Is alternative medicine effective? Show more Show less
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Complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products for diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention which are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Complementary means to improve the effect of something and suggests a treatment that complements mainstream, orthodox treatment, whilst alternative means instead of. However, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Alternative medicine can cause serious harm Show more Show less

Some argue that if alternative medicine makes people feel better, it can’t do any harm. However, alternative medicine can cause significant damage.
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Huge amounts of money are spent on alternative medicine

Millions are spent both on research into alternative medicine as well as the money spent by people on their alternative health care.
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The Argument

Under the pressure of public opinion some governments subsidize homeopathic treatments (e.g. by including them in public services) for research in this field. Allocating funds to homeopathy may mean the funds available for actual scientific medical research are reduced resulting in harm to the general population. An enormous amount of money is spent on researching alternative medicine. In the USA alone, since 1992 the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has spent $2.5 billion on research, with no robust evidence to show for it.[1] Each year people spend $9 billion in the US alone on their own alternative therapies.[2] In a time when many people can not afford health care, money should be focussed on treatments that work.

Counter arguments

Funding for scientific and homeopathic research do not necessarily come from the same resource. Normally there are sufficient funds for both. A government should not focus on a single approach such as scientific research, but use a more holistic approach that ensures no avenue is overlooked. CAM is almost impossible to research. To answer the question 'does yoga work to reduce back pain?', we must ask what kind of yoga? What kind of back pain? And what does it mean to "work" — to help someone avoid surgery, hold a job or need less medication? Some things — the body meridians that acupuncturists say they follow, or energy forces that healers say they manipulate — cannot be measured, and many scientists question their existence.[1]


[P1] Some governments subsidize alternative medicines. [P2] This takes money away from funding proven healthcare.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] This does not necessarily take money away from mainstream healthcare.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 15 Apr 2020 at 09:35 UTC

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