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Is alternative medicine effective?
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Alternative medicine can complement traditional medicine

A huge number of people claim to have felt the effects of alternative medicine.
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The Argument

A large and diverse group of people report the benefits of using homeopathic products. This justifies the their commercialisation. When alternative medicines are used alongside mainstream medicine and the orthodox medicine prescriber is aware, there are many benefits to the patient. The CDC recently reported that the majority of individuals in the United States (i.e., 54.9%) used CAM in conjunction with conventional medicine.[1] Reasons for people choosing to use alternative medicines include to feel better, to reduce symptoms or treatment side-effects, to feel more in control of an illness or to seek a cure when they are told there isn’t one.[2] They feel they are taking more of an active role in their healing and partnering with their therapist in their recovery. Online health gurus "make you feel empowered, because you're going against orthodoxy." People seek CAM techniques because they believe the side effects will be lower.[3] Increasing numbers of medical colleges have started offering courses in alternative medicine. If used alongside conventional treatments, most orthodox clinicians find most forms of complementary medicine acceptable.[1]

Counter arguments

Using alternative medicine alongside orthodox medicine can be dangerous. For example, many people do not tell their mainstream practitioner they are using CAM and experience interactions with other medicines (such as St John’s wort and antidepressants).


The individual has ultimate control over their body. There is value in consumers having choice of health care.


[P1] Alternative medicines have demonstrable use when used in conjunction with orthodox medicine.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Using the two together can be dangerous.

Further Reading

Corp, N., Jordan J. & Croft, P. (2018) Justifications for using complementary and alternative medicine reported by persons with musculoskeletal conditions: A narrative literature synthesis. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0200879.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 15 Apr 2020 at 08:27 UTC

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