Thursday, January 04, 2007

Alternative therapies – Beyond the myths

A special report in the Jan 2007 Consumer Reports on Health, titled “Alternative therapies – Beyond the myths,” had this to say about such therapies (note that herbs and supplements we not included in this report):

  • Some people are resistant to hypnosis
  • Acupuncture doesn’t hurt
  • Most alternative techniques have very little risk because they rarely cause adverse effects when performed properly
  • Tai chi can help joints damaged by rheumatoid arthritis
  • Unconventional cancer treatment methods, such as mind-body methods, massage therapy, and acupuncture, are generally safe to use in conjunction with standard cancer care treatments
  • Cognitive therapy can help prevent relapse of depression
    Spinal manipulation is no better than acupuncture, yoga, mind-body methods, and message for low-back pain
  • Mind-body therapies are useful for chronic illness and for reducing the pain and recovery time of surgery
  • If a patient’s doctor persistently disparages alternative treatment despite the patient’s efforts to discuss them and despite providing supporting evidence, the patient should consider seeking a different doctor.

See the PBS documentary “The New Medicine” for more about the value of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM).

Being trained as a clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive therapy, and having studied the mind-body connection for many years, I’ve been aware of the value of certain types of CAM therapies. Around 10 years ago, I attempted to promote the idea of “biopsychosocial healthcare” with little success, and I confronted extreme resistance from my mental health colleagues.

Have things changed enough in the past ten years to make CAM and well-care more accepted by mainstream medicine?

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