Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine

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“For anyone who has ever wondered about the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of . . . alternative therapies.”—Susan Okie, Washington Post
Whether you are an ardent believer in alternative medicine, a skeptic, or are simply baffled by the range of services and opinions, this groundbreaking analysis lays to rest doubts and contradictions with authority, integrity, and clarity. Over thirty of the most popular treatments—including acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, chiropractic, and herbal medicines—are examined for their benefits and potential dangers. What works and what doesn’t? Who can you trust, and who is ripping you off? In its scrutiny of alternative and complementary cures, this book also strives to reassert the primacy of the scientific method as a means for determining public health practice and policy.

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Editorial Reviews

New England Journal of Medicine
“Physicians should recommend the book to their patients, and it will help health practitioners provide patients with sound advice.”
Entertaining as well as informative. . . . The examination of evidence is comprehensive, forensic, and for champions of these therapies, damning.— Toby Murcott
Toby Murcott - Nature
“Entertaining as well as informative. . . . The examination of evidence is comprehensive, forensic, and for champions of these therapies, damning.”
Susan Okie
For anyone who has ever wondered about the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of such alternative therapies, Trick or Treatment by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst offers fascinating and clearly presented information.
—The Washington Post
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.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Exaggerated claims, misleading advertisements, and false information about complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) make it virtually impossible to protect the public from today's snake oils readily available, inter alia, by Internet, TV, radio, and pharmacy shelves. Science journalist Singh (Big Bang) and Ernst, billed as the UK's first professor of complementary medicine, seek to provide important, up-to-date research about CAM so that readers can make informed health-care decisions. Quoting Hippocrates that science begets knowledge and opinion, ignorance, the authors explain in clear, comprehensible language what works and what does not, what is good evidence-based therapy, and what is no more than puffery. Acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic and herbal medicine receive extensive coverage as therapeutics for treating disease. A "rapid guide" appendix to CAM summarizes the background, the evidence, and scientific conclusion for 36 additional popular therapies, including aromatherapy, ayurvedic tradition, colonic irrigation, food supplements, hypnotherapy, magnet therapy, massage therapy, spiritual healing, and traditional Chinese medicine. The authors have interspersed bits of enlightening medical history with the scientific evidence supporting their theses. This solid piece of reportage includes the reasoning behind clinical trials and science methodologies; highly recommended for all health-care libraries, for general and professional readers.
—James Swanton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393337785
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/19/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 499,601
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Edzard Ernst, based at the University of Exeter, is the UK’s first professor of complementary medicine.

Best-selling author and science journalist Simon Singh lives in London. His books include Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Code Book, and Big Bang.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 How do You Determine the Truth? 6

2 The Truth About Acupuncture 39

3 The Truth About Homeopathy 91

4 The Truth About Chiropractic Therapy 145

5 The Truth About Herbal Medicine 191

6 Does the Truth Matter? 236

Appendix: Rapid Guide to Alternative Therapies 290

Futher Reading 329

Acknowledgements 333

Picture Credits 334

Index 335

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