- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 19, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393337782
- ISBN-13: 978-0393337785
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 140 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Noted science writer Singh and British professor of complementary medicine Ernst offer a reasoned examination of the research on acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine and other alternative treatments. Singh (Fermat's Last Theorem) and Ernst work hard to be objective, but their conclusion is that these therapies are largely worthless. As they examine the research on various alternative therapies, the authors explore the principles of evidence-based medicine on which their conclusions are based, including clinical trials and the placebo effect; they also explore related ethical issues. The authors report that many patients will improve with any alternative remedy—but no more than those given a placebo. Exceptions exist; some herbal remedies (e.g., St. John's wort, echinacea) can be helpful though not always advisable, and chiropractors can relieve low back pain under certain circumstances. This is a stimulating and informative account that will be indispensable to anyone considering an alternative treatment, though it may not dissuade true believers. 16 illus. (Aug.)
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“Entertaining as well as informative. . . . The examination of evidence is comprehensive, forensic, and for champions of these therapies, damning.”
- Toby Murcott, Nature
“Physicians should recommend the book to their patients, and it will help health practitioners provide patients with sound advice.”
- New England Journal of Medicine
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Top customer reviews
I personally experienced with acupunture, digipunture, chinese massages, homeopaty and some forms of chiropratic treatments (osteopathy, etiopathy). I never experienced a clear benefit from all these treatments, except maybe from an osteopat that recommended me to stretch more often and drink more water (not sure if this advice qualifies as alternative medicine).
Despite this I still thought that these treatments may have some benefit (1.3 billion chinese can't be wrong) and that I was just unlucky. Furthermore, although I never believed in some of the foundations of these practices (like the chinese explanation for acupunture, with its energy flows and meridians), I thought there was a reasonable doubt that treatments may be benefitial due to some other, more scientifically accepted reasons.
Well, this book demolished my faith in all these treatments, and in the way made me feel like an idiot for spending so much financial, time and emotional investment in them.
A great read, then, but you need to approach it with an open mind. If you are already have a position on alternative medicine (or believe that "big pharma" control the world) don't waste your money on this book. If you are ambivalent about alternative medicine, and want to get more facts, this book is great for the "against" side. Just beware, it is a very, very, very convincing read.
- Good structure. Before entering into the specifics of each alternative treatment, the authors take their time to discuss the scientific method in general, including its origins, evolution and and how it applies to both conventional and alternative medicine.
- Good balance between citing scientific, statistic and anecdotical evidence to give the facts and illustrating them too.
- Extensive discussion of sources.
- Good explanation of the placebo effect, including an interesting discussion on whether alternative medicines are worth taking just for the placebo effect (which can be quite significant, after all)
- It focuses on only four medicines: acupunture, homeopaty, herbal remedies, and chiropractice. Other alternatives (Feng Shui, meditation, rectal cleansing, etc) are referred to in an appendix, on one page summaries. I would have liked to see more.
- The book concludes that many of the alternative treatments "don't work better than a placebo". However, a placebo can work remarkably well in some cases, and reading this book can eliminate it by making the reader loose faith in these treatments.
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