Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alternative Medicine

Okay, I've noticed that some of you don't like traditional medicine. Please be careful with the alternates. Medical scams go back hundreds of years, it's why we have regulatory boards like the FDA in the first place. Because some people bottle some cheap oil, sell it as all-curing "snake oil," and laugh as the bankroll rolls in and the graveyards fill. Hence the term "Snake oil" to mean "fake medicine."
So what can you do instead if you still hate traditional medicine?

* Herbalism
Before there were chemical pills, people ate plants to help them feel better. See, plants constantly engage in chemical warfare with each other, and some of the compounds they make kill bacteria, get us high, or relieve our pain. Aspirin, for instance, is concentrated salysitic acid, which was derived from willow bark. Why willow bark? Because hundreds of years ago, somebody noticed that if you had a headache and chewed some, the headache went away.
So most chemical pills that a doctor prescribes you, they often were derived from a long-ago herbal treatment. If you must bypass western medicine, herbalism is a reasonably sufficient substitute. Please be cautious that you're less certain of dosing this way, since plants can have wildly varying amounts of their active compound.
* Reflexology
Fancy foot rubs. Now while foot rubs are great for aching feet, they do not, as reflexologists would claim, cure problems outside the feet.
* Chiropracty
Fancy back rubs. Great for mysterious back pain. Useless for non-spinal problems. Practitioners claim that the spine influences the rest of the body, but this is dubious.
* Acupuncture
The ancient Chinese believed that a mysterious energy, "Qi," flowed through the body and that if it got blocked at any point, it would cause problems. So they developed a system of needle-stabbing to unblock this energy.
It works on mysterious pain, but nobody has any idea why, because Qi doesn't exist.
Also even more curiously, it even works if instead of needles, one pokes with fingers on the same spots. Albeit usually less effectively.
* Homeopathy
In the late 1790s, Malaria was a big problem for European explorers. Various remedies were tried, all of them utterly ineffective. A German doctor discovered the effectiveness of Quinine, and then despite being uninfected with malaria himself, took some anyway. To his surprise, he developed malaria-like symptoms, and so concluded that "Like-cures-like." That is, if one has a fever, one should take a treatment that causes fever in a healthy person.
Then the field went totally insane and decided that repeated dilution was the best way to deal with medical shortages. Homeopaths generally believe that solvents somehow have memory, and can remember what was dissolved in them even when diluted so extremely that not one particle of the dissolved substance could possibly remain.
So when you take a homeopathic treatment, you're drinking water that might have been near a poison at one time. Also, we should all be dead from drinking poop water, but for some reason that didn't happen. Maybe because water doesn't actually have a memory. It is a chemical compound, it does not have a brain.
Ultra-cheapskate homeopaths now even claim that "water memory" can be transmitted by sound. Now hold the glass up to the phone, so I can make it believe it's useful medicine. This way I can take your money without you even leaving your home.
* Vitamin theory
In the 1800s, sailors noticed that their typical diet of hardtack and rum tended to make them very very ill. It turns you that you need certain chemical compounds in your food, or you sicken and die. These were called the Vitamins, and were given letter names for easy remembering. Now you can buy tablets with all the vitamins you need, just in case you for some reason need to subsist on a hardtack diet.
Now a cranky theory is engulfing Africa, a continent currently riddled with AIDS and other horrible diseases. The theory states that megadoses of vitamins will cure all diseases. Even Ebola, AIDS, and other diseases that are strongly resistant to treatment.
If this was true, westernized medicine surely would have noticed by now. It's mostly wishful thinking, because a box of vitamins costs $1.83, and the same weight of anti-AIDS drugs costs $224. Africa is not famous for having lots of money.
* Reiki and Faith Healing
Reiki is an idea from Japan that one can move "Qi" from a healthy person to an ill one, therefore ending the ill person's illness. Remember several paragraphs ago when I said that Qi doesn't exist? Still doesn't.
Likewise, Faith Healing revolves around having religion take away a person's illness. It usually doesn't.
* Vibrational Medicine
Supposedly, human beings are made of energy, and changing the "balances" of this energy heals diseases. Pass the bong, man.
* Therapeutic/Magic/Quantum/Whatever Touch
Therapeutic touch claimed to cure illness at a distance through spooky action. An 11 year old proved it to be utterly wrong in 1998. So the practitioners renamed it Quantum touch and went right back to work. People might not understand quantum mechanics, but surely understand that vitalism is wrong, don't they?
* Naturopathy
If there's one thing I've noticed about people over the years, it's that anything they can label "natural," they love, and anything they can label "artificial," they hate. Combine this with outrage at being treated as a bunch of parts by western medicine, and copious bong-passings, and you get naturopathic medicine,
While the official principles are pretty impressive, advocating taking the most effective treatments, working with the self-healing nature of the body for best results, encouraging self-responsibility for health and so on, in practice this tends to be half-baked ideas fueled by what seems to be several doses of hallucinogens, long treatises on long-ago disproven cranky theories, and odd little obsessions like Dr. Kellogs whacked out love of enemas. (Naturopaths often proclaim that one's own intestines are sickening you by retaining some ten to forty pounds of stale poop, and offer to treat this with herbal enemas. Surely we would all be grotesquely ill then?)
* Iridology
Iridologists proclaim that all illness can be diagnosed by analysis of the iris. Most are also homeopaths, naturopaths, or one of the other less reputable branches listed above.
* Color therapy
Feeling bad? Here, look at this colorful poster! Don't you feel better already? See, it realigned your chakras, which are invisible undetectable wheels of light down the center of your body. (Chakras are a common belief in Indian religions, and are likely not real.) Let me shine this colored lamp on you to finish up the process. Man, don't you love these dank nugs?

I'm gonna go with the Herbs. Least ridiculous. Best tested. Natural enough for the chemistry-haters. Thousands of years of testing. Least crank riddled.

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