World of Knowledge (Australia) - - Human Body -

Pa Pa­tients in Aus­tralia are reg­u­larly co con­vinced by their do doc­tors to try out com­ple­men­tary tre treat­ments or al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pie ther­a­pies. What the doc­tors of­ten fail to men­tion, how­ever, is that the medic­i­nal value of such treatm treat­ments is – from a med­i­cal per­specti per­spec­tive – un­clear. In spite of this, busines busi­ness in al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies is boom­ing boom­ing. What’s sig­nif­i­cant is

the process is vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal in most in­stances. Ini­tially, a par­tic­u­lar treat­ment method sees heavy in­vest­ment from the industry, unions or doc­tors. Of­ten mil­lions of dol­lars is spent on ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns – un­til sud­denly, as if from nowhere,

a new ‘health trend’ emerges.

This en­sures prof­its for as long as re­search on the trend con­tin­ues – or un­til it is proved or dis­proved in stud­ies. One ex­am­ple is chiropractic treat­ment. It is sold to pa­tients as a gentle al­ter­na­tive ther­apy for spinal is­sues. Chi­ro­prac­tors claim that, along­side a healthy diet and be­havioural ther­apy, tar­geted ma­nip­u­la­tions of the spine can help to cure many ill­nesses, from back pain to asthma to mi­graines. But the heal­ing power of chiropractic treat­ment be­gan to un­ravel some time ago. One of the lead­ing ex­perts on al­ter­na­tive treat­ments is Edzard Ernst from the Uni­ver­sity of Exeter, UK. In 2008 he con­cluded that chiropractic treat­ment meth­ods are based on junk science. They can even be deadly.

“Sev­eral hun­dred cases have been doc­u­mented in which pa­tients were se­ri­ously and of­ten per­ma­nently dam­aged af­ter chiropractic ma­nip­u­la­tions. A 32-year-old woman from Jakarta died af­ter be­ing treated by an Amer­i­can chi­ro­prac­tor. What usu­ally hap­pens in these tragic in­stances is that, upon ma­nip­u­la­tion of the up­per spine, an artery sup­ply­ing the brain is over-stretched and sim­ply breaks up, lead­ing to a stroke which can prove fa­tal.”

In an­other study Pro­fes­sor Steven Novella from Yale Uni­ver­sity checked

“There is now a lot of ev­i­dence show­ing that more than half of all pa­tients suf­fer mild to mod­er­ate ad­verse ef­fects af­ter see­ing a chi­ro­prac­tor.” PRO­FES­SOR EDZARD ERNST, UNI­VER­SITY OF EXETER

27 stud­ies that praised chiropractic ther­apy – and reached a dev­as­tat­ing con­clu­sion: “The best thing the list had to of­fer were weak and poorly de­signed stud­ies. More­over, the as­so­ci­a­tion ig­nored bet­ter, larger stud­ies that found neg­a­tive re­sults.”

De­spite the proven lack of ev­i­dence for such al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies, the phe­nom­e­non looks set to con­tinue for some time. His­tory shows that the cre­ators of such fads tend to fight to the last for their lu­cra­tive mon­eyspin­ners. They of­ten re­sort to lawyers in­stead of en­gag­ing in con­struc­tive sci­en­tific de­bate – which tells you all you need to know.

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