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What is alternative medicine?

William E. Brown III., MD
Internal Medicine
In Western culture, the term alternative medicine is any healing practice that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine, or that which has not been shown consistently to be effective.  In some instances, it is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than a scientific (e.g. evidence-based) basis.
I agree with Richard Dawkins who stated that "there is no alternative medicine, there is only medicine that works and medicine that doesn't work."  For example there are many instances within the realm of so called conventional medicine where we are not exactly sure how a certain therapy works.  We only know THAT it works and works consistently and therefore it receives the support of the main stream medical establishment.  
Additionally, using this same stream of thought one could argue that there are therapies that have been considered alternative medicine in that past which should be allowed to make the transition to be considered conventional medicine on the basis of efficacy.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.