Alternative medicine

complementary and alternative medicineholistic healthintegrative medicineholistic medicinealternativehealerholisticcomplementary medicinealternative therapyhealers
Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.wikipedia
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Pseudoscience

pseudoscientificpseudo-scientificpseudo-science
Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.
Distinguishing scientific facts and theories from pseudoscientific beliefs, such as those found in astrology, alchemy, alternative medicine, occult beliefs, religious beliefs and creation science, is part of science education and scientific literacy.

Quackery

quackquack doctorquacks
Frequently used derogatory terms for the alternative are new-age or pseudo, with little distinction from quackery.
Paul Offit has proposed four ways in which alternative medicine "becomes quackery":

Acupuncture

acupuncturistacupuncture pointacupuncture points
For example, acupuncture (piercing the body with needles to influence the flow of a supernatural energy) might be believed to increase the effectiveness or "complement" science-based medicine when used at the same time.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in which thin needles are inserted into the body.

Naturopathy

naturopathnaturopathic medicinenatural medicine
Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.
Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that employs an array of pseudoscientific practices branded as "natural", "non-invasive", or promoting "self-healing".

Homeopathy

homeopathichomeopathhomoeopathy
Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.
Homeopathy or homœopathy is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine.

Medicine

medicalmedical scienceclinical medicine
Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective. Alternative medicine, such as using naturopathy or homeopathy in place of conventional medicine, is based on belief systems not grounded in science.
Traditional medicine and folk medicine remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine (meaning “[something] other than medicine”, from Latin alter, “other”).

Energy medicine

spiritual healingspiritual healerenergy healing
Use of magnets was the most common tool in energy medicine in America, and among users of it, 58 percent described it as at least "sort of scientific", when it is not at all scientific.
Energy medicine, energy therapy, energy healing, vibrational medicine, psychic healing, spiritual medicine or spiritual healing are branches of alternative medicine based on a pseudo-scientific belief that healers can channel healing energy into a patient and effect positive results.

Qigong

Qi GongChi KungChi Gong
People practice qigong throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise, relaxation, preventive medicine, self-healing, alternative medicine, meditation, self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.

Appeal to nature

naturalunnaturaladvertises the treatments as being "natural
Its marketing often advertises the treatments as being "natural" or "holistic", in comparison to those offered by "big pharma".
Some popular examples of the appeal to nature can be found on labels and advertisements for food, clothing, and alternative herbal remedies.

Holism

holisticholisticallygestalt
Its marketing often advertises the treatments as being "natural" or "holistic", in comparison to those offered by "big pharma".
Finally, in the context of holistic medicine, "holism" refers to treating all aspects of a person's health, including psychological and cultural factors, rather than only his/her physical conditions or symptoms.

Vertebral subluxation

subluxationVertebral subluxation complexchiropractic subluxation
This is in direct contrast to the belief of "vertebral subluxation" as established in chiropractic, a field of alternative treatment outside scientific mainstream medicine, whose practitioners (chiropractors) are not medical doctors but Doctors of Chiropractic.

Placebo

placebo effectplacebosplacebo studies
Research into alternative therapies often fails to follow proper research protocols (such as placebo-controlled trials, blind experiments and calculation of prior probability), providing invalid results.
In an opinion piece about homeopathy, Ernst argues that it is wrong to support alternative medicine on the basis that it can make patients feel better through the placebo effect.

Faith healing

faith healerdivine healinghealing
The increased interest in alternative medicine at the end of the 20th century has given rise to a parallel interest among sociologists in the relationship of religion to health.

Magnet therapy

magnetic therapymagnetic healermagnetic healing
These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.
Magnet therapy, magnetic therapy is a pseudoscientific alternative medicine practice involving a weak static magnetic fields produced by a permanent magnet.

HIV/AIDS

AIDSHIVacquired immune deficiency syndrome
In the absence of this bias, especially for diseases that are not expected to get better by themselves such as cancer or HIV infection, multiple studies have shown significantly worse outcomes if patients turn to alternative therapies.
In the US, approximately 60% of people with HIV use various forms of complementary or alternative medicine, even though the effectiveness of most of these therapies has not been established.

Colorpuncture

colorpuncturist
These groups have some overlap, and distinguish two types of energy medicine: veritable which involves scientifically observable energy (including magnet therapy, colorpuncture and light therapy) and putative, which invokes physically undetectable or unverifiable energy.
Colorpuncture, cromopuncture, or color light acupuncture, is a pseudoscientific alternative medicine practice based on "mystical or supernatural" beliefs which asserts that colored lights can be used to stimulate acupuncture points to promote healing and better health.

New Age

New Age movementnew-ageNew Age spirituality
The terms alternative medicine, complementary medicine, integrative medicine, holistic medicine, natural medicine, unorthodox medicine, fringe medicine, unconventional medicine, and new age medicine are used interchangeably as having the same meaning, and are almost synonymous in most contexts.
There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on the notion that spirituality and science can be unified.

Energy (esotericism)

life forceenergyspiritual energy
The term "energy" is used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine to refer to a variety of claimed experiences and phenomena that defy measurement and thus can be distinguished from the scientific form of energy.

Edzard Ernst

Ernst, EdzardProf Ernst
Edzard Ernst characterized the evidence for many alternative techniques as weak, nonexistent, or negative and in 2011 published his estimate that about 7.4% were based on "sound evidence", although he believes that may be an overestimate.
Edzard Ernst (born 30 January 1948) is an academic physician and researcher specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.

Skeptical movement

scientific skepticismskepticscientific skeptic
Writers such as Carl Sagan, a noted astrophysicist, advocate of scientific skepticism and the author of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996), have lambasted the lack of empirical evidence to support the existence of the putative energy fields on which these therapies are predicated.
It is closely associated with skeptical investigation or rational inquiry of controversial topics (compare list of topics characterized as pseudoscience) such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena, cryptids, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine, religion, or exploratory or fringe areas of scientific or pseudoscientific research.

Hydrogen peroxide

H 2 O 2 H2O2HO
While this may be because these patients avoid effective treatment, some alternative therapies are actively harmful (e.g. cyanide poisoning from amygdalin, or the intentional ingestion of hydrogen peroxide) or actively interfere with effective treatments.
Practitioners of alternative medicine have advocated the use of hydrogen peroxide for various conditions, including emphysema, influenza, AIDS, and cancer, although there is no evidence of effectiveness and in some cases, it may even be fatal.

Evidence-based medicine

evidence-basedmedical evidenceevidence
Loose terminology may also be used to suggest meaning that a dichotomy exists when it does not, e.g., the use of the expressions "Western medicine" and "Eastern medicine" to suggest that the difference is a cultural difference between the Asiatic east and the European west, rather than that the difference is between evidence-based medicine and treatments that do not work.
A review of 145 alternative medicine Cochrane reviews using the 2004 database revealed that 38.4% concluded positive effect or possibly positive (12.4%) effect, 4.8% concluded no effect, 0.7% concluded harmful effect, and 56.6% concluded insufficient evidence.

Biological plausibility

biologically plausiblePlausibilityplausible
Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.
It has been observed that, despite its importance, biological plausibility is lacking for most complementary and alternative medicine therapies.

David Gorski

Respectful Insolence
David Gorski argues that alternatives treatments should be treated as a placebo, rather than as medicine.
He is an outspoken skeptic, and a critic of alternative medicine and the anti-vaccination movement.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

National Center for Complementary and Alternative MedicineNCCAMOffice of Alternative Medicine
For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) before obtaining its current name.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is a United States government agency which explores complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).