I'm curious, if we can't trust 'studies', what exactly makes a medical practice useful? Is it just that it works in a particular case? This seems a bit of a piecemeal approach to medicine. As it turns out, we have way more in terms of resources and money that we we can dedicate to that process. We don't have to 'try' out stuff on ourselves each time. The advantage of larger medical studies is that the process is public and available for later falsification. Scientists are some of the more skeptical people you'll meet, but they trust large, peer reviewed medical studies because these are public results that we can try to replicate and use to confirm/ falsify theories.
That's not to say alternative medicine cannot be useful. However, it just isn't usually supported by what we consider the best reasoning in medicine. If the goal is health, I think there is good reason that most people go with the most rigorous tests and processes that they can find. If I'm going to take a medicine (or undergo) a procedure, I want the most reliable method available. If I have a serious medical problem, I'll try my luck with alternative medicine once I've given established medicine a chance.
Last point, the press makes a big deal out of clinical studies that are often very provisional and tentative in nature. A study might find some marginal increase in some positive attribute (based on caffeine use or something) and many papers grab the fact as proof that 'Coffee will heal everything, etc.' It's important to find a particular 'study' and actually read the abstract to see what was actually argued. You'll find it's very rarely a bold and definitive conclusion.
Please excuse typos and weird grammar!
I do hope we don't limit the topic to medical studies only, since we can do studies about anything, and i didn't intend this topic to become a controversy about alternative and conventional medidine.
I only used an example that happened to be on TV in that moment.
My concern is, that sometimes biased people do a study, -who dismiss a certain issue out of hand.
Since bias affects the results of studies negatively, socalled "double blind studies" are necessary in medicine.
Double blind means that neither patients nor doctors know if they are using the placebo or the remedy.
We found out in studies that remedies work better on people, when the doctor is convinced it works.
So somehow his conviction rubs off on the patient.
So the doctor shouldn't have this effect on a test.
This also reduces medication to a substance.
However, my father was a doctor ( a specialist for internal diseases,) and so I grew up in a doctors household.
My father always stressed the point, that most people could be healed better without allopathic medication, with loving kindness, compassion, listening, stress and grief counseling, teaching them a healthy lifestyle, proper diet and so forth . He ofte precribed "natural"( for instance herbal) remedies, as much as possible.
Of course with this type of therapy you need a cooperative patient.
But today, you have people who habitually smoke, drink and overeat as a form of stressmanagement or hedonistic compensation for suffering.
So, you won't get them to give up intoxication, overeating, laziness, dysfunctional job and family structures and so forth.
But all those stressful conditions are the main reasons for overweight, high blood pressure, low immune system, hormonal imbalances, depressions, and so forth.
In this case, you need allopathic bummers who do the job despite
a toxic lifestyle.
Now, a Buddhist is a likely candidate for another path, - he sees through the dangers of intoxication, craving, overindulging, sees the benefits of meditation and insights, he reads a lot, and so forth.
A recent opinion poll or study in Germany shows that alternative and especially homeopathic remedies are preferred by young people between 20 and 40, highly intelligent and edcuated, mostly with university degrees and well paid careers.
So the typical clientel for the alternative market is not a gullible and naive person who is susceptible to B$ and superstition, but quite the contrary.
It is somebody who is used to analysing complex matters, and so he also thinks through the insights and theories of how they holistic healing, which may escape most other people, simpky because they lack edcuation as a fundament.
In this way, I compare alternative and natural healing methods to Buddhism.
It could be, that when I say "alternative healing methods" I am thinking of "X"
, but you (general) are thinking of "Y".
Therefore, you could be heavily biased though any negative things you have heard before, but which have nothing to do with responsible alternative medicine.
So was I, biased, when went to university.
I was heavily biased against the branch I am in today.
Later, it was a very humbling lesson for me to learn that ONLY alternative healing methods helped me to overcome the chronic disease I had developped through allopathic medicine.
I studied the methods that saved my life, after allopathic medicine had first saved it, but left me unhealed, in a state where I stayed alive, but couldn't do much with thius ife, I was too ill.
I finally tried a dcotor for alternative healing methods, after having missed nearly a decade of my life.
He changed my life.
After I was well, I changed my career plans, went to a medical school instead, as I saw so many around me who suffered like I had.
Now, later in life, the Dhamma has come to me....and when my teacher heard what my job is, he said the words that thrilled me to the marrow:
You should go for healing through the word.
It hit home so much, because my father used to say that too.
With lots of Metta,