Alternative medicine has long since established itself as a serious branch of medicine. However, in addition to scientifically recognized methods, there are also plenty of therapies that are ineffective.
Homeopathy, acupuncture, hydro- and phytotherapy are among the best-known methods of alternative medicine. But leech therapy, biofeedback, and spiritual healing are those known to be ineffective but also fall under this generic term.
Alternative medicine – Holistic view
The holistic view of man is typical of many methods in alternative medicine. This means that the therapists do not see the individual illnesses in isolation, but include the whole person and also the psyche.
However, all therapies – and this also applies to the established methods such as phytotherapy and homeopathy – have something in common: With a few exceptions, their benefits have not been scientifically proven.
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Alternative medicine in science
Alternative medicine practitioners attach great importance to the fact that the methods with which they work have a scientific basis. Research is therefore being carried out on the topic at many renowned clinics such as the Charité in Berlin. There are now several chairs that deal with complementary medicine.
Acupuncture: Is it effective?
Acupuncture is the front runner among the subjects of study. But despite a few hundred studies on the subject, there are no clear results.
Apparently, treatment with acupuncture needles is particularly effective for back pain and migraines. However, according to previous knowledge, it does not matter at which points the needles are pricked.
That would mean that the meridians – the imaginary lines on our body on which the needles are placed depending on the complaint – have no meaning.
This is supported by the thesis that the meridians are merely a theoretical construct that goes back to the course of the rivers and roads of the Chinese Empire but has no medical relevance.
The dispute over homeopathy
Homeopathy is far more controversial than acupuncture. While there are ardent followers of this teaching, many scientists question the therapeutic benefits of the homeopathic little pills called “globules”.
Homeopathy was founded by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann (1755 to 1843). He assumed that things can be healed with like things. For example, if a patient has watery eyes, they are given a cure that will cause these symptoms in a healthy person.
The second characteristic of homeopathy is the strong dilution of the medicines. For critics, this is an important argument in the discussion about effectiveness. Because the active ingredient itself is often no longer detectable in the drugs.
Although homeopathy is in the crossfire, there are more than 6000 doctors in Germany alone who work according to homeopathic teaching.