Talk:Alternative medicine

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Discussion of guidelines for editing alternative medicine sections in herb and plant articles[edit]

There is a discussion of guidelines for editing alternative medicine content in plant and herb articles here. [1]

Note that numerous editors participated, and there is unanimous consensus on editing Wikipedia articles about use of plants and herbs in alternative medicine. (The high editor participation, by editors who each have stellar content editing histories, and each of whom made thoughtful and detailed comments, indicates that the best place to put such on-point topic discussions might be on project talk pages of the area of science that bears on the particular area of alt med practice.) FloraWilde (talk) 14:09, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

Missing from this article - alternative psychiatry/psychology[edit]

Missing from this article is information on the huge fields of alternative psychology and alternative psychiatry, e.g., work of Wilhelm Reich, spiritual psychology, and Psychosynthesis, to name just a few out of hundreds or more. this good faith edit by User:Katecodrington is an example of one of hundreds of such "branches" of alternative medicine of the subcategory alternative psychology or psychiatry. I deleted that edit under WP:Undue, because of its specificity about a single person's "branch", without a source as to it meeting WP:UNDUE for inclusion. But edits like it need to be generalized and put in our article, with reliable secondary sources as to WP:Undue as to which to include and which not. FloraWilde (talk) 14:34, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Flora, thanks for dealing with that. I have tagged her article submission and notified her of her COI and not to use Wikipedia for self-promotion. -- Brangifer (talk) 15:39, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that this article needs to branch out into Alternative Mental Health, but you might find this template helpful:
Mind–body interventions - edit
Stylized methods
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative medical systems
  2. Mind-body interventions
  3. Biologically based therapy
  4. Manual methods
  5. Energy therapy
See also

I would say that these topics have been covered elsewhere nicely. --Karinpower (talk) 15:18, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe just a couple sentences, with a link to the template/category? Just a thought. -- Brangifer (talk) 15:39, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
The problem with just a couple of sentences is... (I have no source at hand on this, but) all alternative medicines are essentially "psychological". None is based on physical reality. Sitting a person down in a Wilhelm Reich orgone box to treat depression is "alternative psychiatry", because Reich purported to be a psychiatrist. But this has no difference in physical reality from a Reiki hand waver fixing some Chakra misalignment causing the depression, sticking an acupuncture needle at the right point to treat it, aligning a spine for it, or going to church and getting hands laid on, all to the same end of treating the depression problem. But our article puts the former in a different category, (as does NCCAM, but with same the ultimate end of getting funding for "research" or generating insurance billing codes). FloraWilde (talk) 19:30, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
FloraWilde, I disagree. Your comment uses brush strokes that are too broad. Alt med is a very diverse category, and the modalities within have varying levels of scientific groundedness - from not-plausible to sure-makes-sense-but-scientific-testing-needed-to-prove-it. And they vary quite a bit in whether they are attempting to affect psychology (the mind and the emotions) while some goals that you mentioned about would be more accurately described as "spiritual" or "metaphysical" goals rather than psychological. --Karinpower (talk) 22:00, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
The point I am trying to make is that this article should be broad, and written in broad brush strokes, with links to more specific info. Classifying claims to heal using orgone energy as being psychology, vs. qi, vital energy, Chakras, etc. as physical medicine, makes no sense in objective reality. It should all be touched on in this article. This article is lacking a big chunk of alt med only because NCCAM didn't put much of it on its own list, and this article appears to be mostly written from the NCCAM page. ("Sure-makes-sense-but-scientific-testing-needed-to-prove-it" is called a medical hypothesis waiting to be tested, not alternative medicine.) FloraWilde (talk) 01:01, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

Medscape articles[edit]

Here are a couple new articles from Medscape dealing with AM/CAM:

  • Citation template: <ref name=Stern>{{Citation |last=Stern |first=Victoria |date=02 September 2014 |title=Mythbusters: Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Cancer |publisher=''[[Medscape]]'' |url=http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/830552_print |accessdate=07 September 2014 }}</ref>
  • Citation template: <ref name=Miller>{{Citation |last=Miller |first=Gabriel |date=02 September 2014 |title=Asking the Experts: Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Cancer |publisher=''[[Medscape]]'' |url=http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/830553_print |accessdate=07 September 2014 }}</ref>

Registration is easy and free. Medscape is a good RS, sometimes as a MEDRS, and other times for expert opinions. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:56, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Real Medicine and Alternative Medicine[edit]

I have not noticed any section that says that some modern day treatments (like salicylic acid) are derived from herbal medicine. We should properly note that some well-studied treatments have been discovered to be false, and some to be shown helpful. For starters, the Pacific Yew berries were eaten in North America by natives, and have now been shown to be potential chemotherapic drugs. :) just a though. Qwed117 (talk) 21:20, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

I think this a valid point. how can it be presented in the article maybe a separate section seems logicalDocsim (talk) 14:21, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
This was discussed and resolved by consensus in the section above, Talk:Alternative_medicine#Discussion_of_guidelines_for_editing_alternative_medicine_sections_in_herb_and_plant_articles. Salicylic acid is not "derived from" alternative medicine. Chemist Johann Andreas Buchner in isolated it from Salix alba or a similar plant species in about 1828. When it was scientifically tested using statistical data analysis, the isolated chemical, at the tested dosage level, was found to have therapeutic properties. If some Native American tribe "infused" a preparation from the bark of sufficient concentration, and this was later tested to work at that concentration level, we would say that that tribe discovered this evidence based medicine, not that it is "alternative medicine". If the Native American tribe concentration levels were tested not to be sufficient for an effect, the tribe would not be said to have been discovered it. Either way, it is not relevant to the subject of alternative medicine. FloraWilde (talk) 16:31, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Im not so sure about that. seems this other editor made a good point. how does medicinal marijuana play into your logic and points just made.Docsim (talk) 10:30, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
Salicylic acid has nothing to do with medical marijuana, so it doesn't. -Roxy the dog™ (resonate) 11:19, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

How does edit summary explain removal of source?[edit]

A source was removed by User:Cannolis, with this edit summary - "Reverted 1 edit by User:Jonathan Mcrey: Sorry, what? don't see how this has to do with WP:MEDRS. This article cannot be used to support any medical claims".[2] How does the edit summary correspond to removal of the source? Is there an an ongoing discussion on another talk page? FloraWilde (talk) 12:09, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Right, that summary was more in response to this one. My original rationale for removing the source was this, which I stand by, I don't think an article that apparently looks at a few case studies meets MEDRS. No further discussion that I'm aware of Cannolis (talk) 13:34, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Cannolis. You are correct. The editor you reverted appears very new, appears to have made the edits in goot faith, and likely does not know what MEDRS is. FloraWilde (talk) 16:01, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

acupuncture[edit]

If I read the article right, it says acupuncture (and by extension acupressure) is based on the belief of a supernatural force. My acupuncturist makes absolutely no supernatural claims when talking about treatments: it is all mechanistic.211.225.33.104 (talk) 04:06, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

... and your point is?... Roxy the dog™ (resonate) 08:48, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

First sentence - scientific method[edit]

The first sentence describes AM as not based on the scientific method. I think a better sentence would use a phrase like "not based on scientific evidence" instead. The sentence, as is, is clear enough to me, a scientist. However, saying something is based on evidence obtained using the scientific method is near-meaningless to 75% of the people that I interact with on a daily basis. Since this article is likely an entry-point to Wikipedia for some users, I think the first sentence should be in plainer English.

I am sure a lot of thought has gone into this sentence but I think it would improve the article if there were plainer wording.Vile-eight (talk) 08:00, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

The article has been edited so as to present the information in a way that would make clear, and, it is hoped (from the encyclopedically neutral point of view) unarguable, that the distinguishing feature between "mainstream" and other/"alternative" is precisely that mainstream is (per history section) based on (evidence gathered) using the scientific method pioneered in USA by Welch (after visiting Europe) and promoted by Flexner and now dominant in medical schools in USA and elsewhere. Other practices "put forward as having the healing effects of medicine" are based on a variety of other theories, teachings or traditions, whether or not any evidence of efficacy can be produced using what are currently recognised as "the scientific method". "Can there be any reasonable 'alternative'?" -Arnold S. Relman (1998)[3] --Qexigator (talk) 09:05, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree that it is a logically flawless statement. However, according to WP:Jargon "Every reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that material is presented in the most widely understandable manner possible." Furthmore, WP:EXPLAINLEAD states "In general, the lead should not assume that the reader is intimately familiar with the subject of the article. " Since the lack of scientific method, as you say, is the crux of the distinction for AM, then at this level, readers are not likely to be familiar with the implications of not following the scientific method. As such, the first sentence ought to describe what's distinct about AM, and should be clear to people have no understanding of the scientific method (notably, a full 80% of the American population, see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/c7/c7s2.htm#note21) Vile-eight (talk) 23:09, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm listening and intrigued. Clarity is always welcome. Can you propose a compromise which contains both aspects? -- Brangifer (talk) 23:12, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
"Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not based on scientific evidence.[1] " MIght not be perfect, but I think it's a start. Look forward to your feedback Vile-eight (talk) 23:44, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
The pipe link shows "scientific" but links to "scientific method": that obscures what is being said and thus diminishes clarity: the putative innocent reader is left to puzzle out what that is supposed to mean. May I offer this for consideration as an opening sentence, in a plain words version?
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine , but is not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. It consists of a wide range of health care practices, products and therapies The treatments are those that are not part of the conventional , science-based healthcare system.
But then, how would we go on and make some mention of the distinguishing feature that conventional is based on scientific method but alternative is not? Qexigator (talk) 00:11, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
I'll defer to you on your judgment of the pipelink (which I had thought was a widespread and accepted practice.) I'd submit that word 'scientific' inherently carries the notion of scientific method (it is in fact the primary definition in more than one dictionary) but since Scientific (perhaps wrongly) links to Science consider this: there is a page for scientific evidence which would work nicely. I think that the phrase 'scientific evidence' is a more intelligible concept than 'scientific method'. Alternatively, I would not be opposed to the terms 'scientific research' or 'scientific inquiry' which are more broadly synonymous with 'scientific method' than 'scientific evidence' yet, in my opinion, are more generally intelligible than 'scientific method'. I think that the edit you suggested, 1. deletes too much context and 2. has the problem you indicated in your last paragraph.Vile-eight (talk) 00:36, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't see that inclusion of both ideas I was seeking. Evidence of effect can be arrived at by accident or by using the scientific method, so I see the "method" as being the biggest difference.

Whether it's taught in the "conventional , science-based healthcare system" is a totally different aspect of the subject, so let's not get into that in this thread.

Let's see if this will work:

Brangifer (talk) 01:01, 14 December 2014 (UTC)

Great suggestion. I'm good with thisVile-eight (talk) 01:40, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Let's see what Qexigator thinks. -- Brangifer (talk) 01:56, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
The more I read my proposal, the more I think that correct grammar requires the addition of "that" ("but that is not based on..."), so I have added it. -- Brangifer (talk) 07:17, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
A slightly longer, but even more accurate, version reads:
This makes it clear that believers claim "evidence", but it is neither scientific nor discovered by using the scientific method. -- Brangifer (talk) 07:23, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
That seems about right, but "based on" may be more accurate than "backed". I'm hesitant to be more definite, mindful of the lengthy discussions about this paragraph which have occurred over the years. Qexigator (talk) 08:12, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
+(After further thought) Would this be acceptable? : Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but that is not based on or backed by scientific evidence or evidence gathered using the scientific method." Qexigator (talk) 15:59, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
That's even better! -- Brangifer (talk) 18:28, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but that is not founded on scientific evidence or evidence gathered using the scientific method." perhaps?
Otherwise I'd go with based on or backed by, not both. I like backed for the simplicity but based for the precision Vile-eight (talk) 19:50, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Cautious yes, reading "founded on" as synonym for "based on". But if you had to spell it out, how would "scientific evidence" differ from "evidence gathered using the scientific method"? Qexigator (talk) 20:29, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Good point. So, are you proposing that the extra verbiage is unnecessary? For whom? For professionals or the public? I suspect that the public needs extra clarification, but are we going too far? Where is the middle ground? -- Brangifer (talk) 21:08, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
My question is, whether in this context, "scientific evidence" is meant to be distinct from "evidence gathered using the scientific method", and 1_if so/ or 2_if not so, is that a good way of letting the reader know? It may be that if they are practically synonymous here, it does no harm, and may do some good, to have them both as in the above version. But my feeling is this sentence must be as robust as possible, and effectively unarguable and beyond quibble (as mentioned above). Having reworded the article's current version thus far, it may be more effective simply to put: Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but that is not founded on scientific evidence or evidence gathered using the scientific method. If there is more to say, let that be added in another sentence. Perhaps, adding to the final sentence of the paragraph, to read: The treatments are those that are not part of the conventional, science-based healthcare system <insert> and are not backed by scientific evidence</insert>. Qexigator (talk) 22:08, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
That sounds good to me. -- Brangifer (talk) 02:05, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Proposed revision, first paragraph[edit]

As above, will the followiing revision be acceptable, using "founded on" instead of "based on" in the first sentence, and adding "not backed by scientific evidence" at the end of the last sentence, of the first paragraph (citations and middle sentences unchanged, so not put in below)?

  • first sentence Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but that is not based <insert>founded</insert> on evidence gathered using the scientific method. ....
  • last sentence ... The treatments are those that are not part of the conventional, science-based healthcare system <insert> and are not backed by scientific evidence</insert>.

Qexigator (talk) 16:27, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

That still looks good. Try it and let's see how it looks. It just might fly. -- Brangifer (talk) 08:19, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
done. Qexigator (talk) 09:03, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Looks good. Thanks. -- Brangifer (talk) 15:32, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
The constructive work on the first paragraph this tendentious topic is really heartening (in contrast to the many flame wars on other Wikipedia talk pages). I have one pedantic objection. The sentence says AM is "any practice...." Practicing law is a practice as are any number of other activities. I suppose our purported every-woman reader will automatically carry over the "medicine" from the first part of the sentence to use in the form of "medical" or "healing" etc., so for practical purposes the lack of a modifier is not detrimental. Kdammers (talk) 01:36, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Botanica[edit]

The image of the inside of a Botanica and its associated text is inappropriate. A botanica is NOT a place for alternative healing, but rather a supply shop for a particular religion and/or magical system. While some alternative healing modalities (i.e. herbalism, faith cures, etc.) may be purchased there, that's not its primary reason for existing. If you include this, then you need to include every religious and magical supply shop here - which is patently ridiculous and irrelevant to the topic at hand. Graidan (talk) 22:58, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

It sure looks like a place which sells various herbs and dietary supplements. That's alternative medicine. -- Brangifer (talk) 08:00, 16 December 2014 (UTC)