Evidence based medicine vs alternative medicine


Alternative medicine has been used for ages however it lack concrete scientific studies and make it skeptical for some while others believe it works. Some claims that alternative medicine do more harm that evidence based medicine while others states that alternative medicine do add on value when it is used in tandem with evidence based medicine. For example in Knee osteoarthritis, alternative medicine such as chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, acupuncture and massage, traditional Chinese medicine or oriental medicine, Yoga and homeopathic medicine does helps to improve patient quality and less dose of pain killer (NSAIDs) are needed to control the pain. What is your opinion? Would you choose evidence based medicine or alternative medicine for healing?Do you have any experience to share regarding evidence based medicine (normal hospital/clinic practices) vs alternative medicine?

Alternative Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Pain Management
Lawrence Loy
19 days ago

17 answers


Both "western" based medicine and alternative medicine could complement each other. For example in emergency setting, western based, evidence based medicine is the best approach however for long term chronic disease, alternative medicine could helps to boost the effectiveness of the desired out come besides using western evidence based medicine alone. Using Osteoarthritis as an example, pain killer could definitely alleviate the pain quickly so that i could return to work immediately, but alternative medicine such as acupuncture, yoga, thermal therapy, massage would helps to alleviate the pain in the long run but one must remember that just as Western evidence based medicine , alternative medicine carries complications and side effects too. Hence, it is wise to weight the pros and cons and understand the usage of each treatment before trying it out.

Chun Wei
18 days ago
True enought that during acute emegency situation, Western " Evidence based" medicine is the priority. However for long term management, both western and alternative medicine could cooperate to provide better outcome. - Lawrence 17 days ago
"Could" is just as likely as "Not" - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago
Meaningless. - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago

Yes - there is a time and place for Western medicine such as in emergency situations, etc. However, my frustration lies in the endless array of drug commercials with a long list of side effects that sound worse than the condition that is being treated. In my experience, evidence-based medicine often throws a drug at the situation - end of story, and does not always consider alternative therapies that could help or solve the patient's issue. Obviously, it would be best to utilize both methods and educate the patient as to the options available.

Sherry Granader
17 days ago
It is true that most medical doctors will prescribe pharmacological drugs for medical management and does not consider alternative therapies which could due to lack of exposure to different alternative medicine approaches. - Lawrence 17 days ago
but if you ask the medical doctors, they might provide you some information regarding some alternative medicice. For example, medical doctors in the Asian continent might be able to point out some of the benefits and harm of TCM because it is quite common to see patient who seek both TCM and western base medicine while in the south america, they might seek the hearbal healer. - Lawrence 17 days ago
Commercials drug does come with a long list of side effects but some time it helps us when we need the problem to solve near to immediately where alternative medicine hardly could provide. But it still depends on the user if they prefer for fast or slow solution. - Chun 17 days ago
Hospitals Embrace CAM in an Era of ‘Whole Person’ Health In an era where many hospitals include community health and “whole person” health in their mission statements, complementary and alternative medicine is a natural fit. And, research suggests that an increasing number of hospitals offer some version of CAM services to patients. - David E. Marcinko 16 days ago

"H" Under Review

Homeopathy is a medical philosophy that essentially believes your body is the best weapon to fight disease. Homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that “like cures like,” meaning if something causes a symptom in your body, if you take a diluted form, it will boost your body’s ability to fight it. Typically these remedies include a plant or a mineral in a tiny amount.

An analysis of hundreds of published studies from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia found that homeopathic medicine was no more effective than a placebo. There is no evidence that they actually work, the council claimed, and yet it is a multibillion dollar business.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finished] a public hearing to obtain information and comments from stakeholders about the current use of human drug and biological products labeled as homeopathic, as well as the Agency’s regulatory framework for such products. These products include prescription drugs and biological products labeled as homeopathic and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs labeled as homeopathic. FDA is seeking participants for the public hearing and written comments from all interested parties, including, but not limited to, consumers, patients, caregivers, health care professionals, patient groups, and industry. FDA is seeking input on a number of specific questions, but is interested in any other pertinent information participants would like to share.

This is probably because of stuff like this:
Here’s the thing. I don’t get why there’s such a distinction between “alternative” and “traditional” medicine. I make no such differentiations. To me, there’s only the medicine which we subject to scrutiny and the medicine we don’t. This blog is FULL of posts attacking “traditional” medicine when it fails to work as promised. There are also posts on “alternative” therapies that have been studied, and do work. Those should be used.

It sometimes feels like people who use “alternative” medicine oppose its study, or don’t care about results. If that’s the case, then – yes – I can’t say I’m all for that. When something fails to show benefits over harms in research, then I tend to frown upon its use.

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
16 days ago
It is true that blogs could greatly influences the patient medical management preference. I agree that when the choosen menagement fails to show benefits but side effects it should be discourage immediately in health care management. - Lawrence 16 days ago
NO: Side effects are discouraged when less than the disease entity; ie.. cancer. IOW: I may puke and my hair may fall out but chemo continues and may save my life. This is known as “risk-benefit” analysis. - David E. Marcinko 16 days ago
Agreed. Thanks for reminding the "risk-benefit" analysis. - Lawrence 16 days ago
You are welcomed! - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago

Western medicine is best at acute care, not chronic, not long turn solutions.

Let's start with a case study. Female, 53, Has had arthritis, asthma, allergies since age 12 - Western medicine = drugs & possible surgery.

Fast forward to 53, add stage 4 kidney disease, elevated liver enzymes, diabetes, obesity, eczema, chronic fatigue, 40 yrs of constant pain, edema in ankles, systemic candida (worse with prescription drugs), hypothyroid, hormone imbalances, hot flashes.

Western Med .....drugs to manage, short life expectancy with dialysis.

Using scientific research, 'alternatives' reversed all in 1 year with diet & lifestyle changes + botanicals. Happy, healthy, holding for 3 yrs.

Jacquie Walburn
16 days ago
Sorry - anecdotes do not pass rigorous scientific muster. - David E. Marcinko 16 days ago
All science based research used! - Jacquie 14 days ago
Go to pubmed & type in 'turmeric' & see all the research studies then again for 'berberine' - Jacquie 14 days ago
Ruston Roy on whole body healing. - Jacquie 9 days ago
Ruston WHO? - David E. Marcinko 8 days ago
If we all used AM; there would be no health care cost crisis; YES? - David E. Marcinko 8 days ago
Why would you post a question you have no interest in the answers for? I agree with David E Marcinko, Natural holistic medicine would put you & big pharma out of business. Professor Ruston Roy of PENN hold 5 university professorships & questions the scientificness of medical research - Jacquie 7 days ago
OK - David E. Marcinko 7 days ago

Osteopathic Medicine.

OM is uniquely American and is NOT alternative medicine!

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
15 days ago
What is the differences between chiropractic and OM? - Chun 6 days ago
Feed a Man - Teach a Man! - David E. Marcinko 4 days ago
Do your own internet search, and learn. DOs are physicians; DCs are not. - David E. Marcinko 4 days ago

Already today, doctors and insurance companies not only collect information about past & present treatments & checkups (including diseases of direct family members), but also actual habits, as smoking, regular work-out or extreme sports. Technology makes it possible to combine the different sources of information and elaborate a transparent Digital Twin of the individual.

The model enables doctors to achieve a better understanding of the patient’s conditions, including relations between different symptoms to estimate risks and opportunities. Such a holistic philosophy is nothing new, in fact it is the foundation of traditional Chinese Medicine. The earliest evidence found is from the Shang dynasty (14th Century BCE). In opposite to the typical Western approach, the Chinese vision understands the body as one, where all parts are interconnected. To be healthy, it is required to be in equilibrium, similar to Yin & Yang. A result of this philosophy is acupuncture, where a needle used at one particular point of the body has a positive influence on an organ or other part of the body. Even if statistics could not confirm these theories, they survived and even spread all over the world, where doctors and patients trust in this treatment and report positive results.

Patrick Henz
8 days ago
Great explaination! But today, there are still heath care providers that are skeptical regarding the usage of acupuncture. - Lawrence 8 days ago
Thanks Lawrence Loy , correct, it is not generally agreed. Nevertheless it is an interesting philosophy to see the human being as one holistic system, similar as we do for other complex systems. - Patrick 7 days ago
Holistic System = DOs and Osteopathic Medicine - David E. Marcinko 4 days ago

Another great topic for debate, which has been raging for decades...I do not anticipate a nice and tidy summary judgment anytime soon!
I was first introduced to CAM by one of my nurse practitioners back in the 1990s. Her style of using CAM fell mostly on deaf and unappreciative ears in our office, so much so that she left within 1 year. I was a bit more receptive, and tried some of her ways with patients (homeopathy, Reiki, natural supplements, etc.) and found that even though their efficacy was in question, patients were welcoming and often felt better. This feeling better I would attribute mostly to psychological feeling better, but still better.
Which brings me to my main point: the best medicine a doctor can use is his or her ears! LISTEN to the patient. In our medical school, I have taught hundreds of students over the years the simple refrain, by stating a comparative question: what is the mantra in the field of Real Estate? Answer: Location, location, location. What is the best way to help a patient, I then ask. Answer: Listen, listen, listen! This listening, as a therapy, has stood the test of time, spans all cultures and languages, and has been proven effective for basically all forms of chronic disease in one way or another. Let us all listen more, listen better, actively listen, and we will all need to prescribe less of everything else.

Sam Grief
7 days ago
Well saidSam Grief! Empathy treats the mental and psychological aspect that is associated with the illness! - Lawrence 7 days ago
When you Speak - You Do Not Learn. - David E. Marcinko 4 days ago
When you Listen - You may Learn - David E. Marcinko 4 days ago

I would choose alternative medicine any day of the week and twice on Sunday. What bothers me about Western medicine and evidence-based medicine is that in most cases, a drug is thrown at the problem, which in my experience, does not solve the problem. In fact, one drug leads to another, and to another, and so on with endless side effects.
Look at the commercials on television that state, "Ask your doctor about XYZ drug." Really? Since when should we be asking our doctor for a prescription drug that serves up plenty of side effects that often sound worse than what the person is dealing with.
I will never forget the day I took my Mom to the doctor so we could get a handicap card for the car during the winter months. Mind you., she had not been to a doctor in years, and was now 90 years old. When I checked her in at the front desk, the nurse immediately handed me a rather large card to fill out asking me to list all of her medications.
I looked at her and said, "She isn't taking any medication."
The nurse looked at me with such a surprised look on her face," What? Really? Your Mom is not taking any meds?"
I replied empathically, "No."
She was shocked and didn't know what else to say.
My point is that alternative medicine deals with the whole person, and offers natural remedies that help the body do what it wants to do - heal you. Give the body what it needs to heal, not hurt it by giving it drugs that serve up plenty of side effects.

Sherry Granader
19 days ago
I agree with you Sherry Granader that alternative medicine manage the patient from a holistic approach and personally i have experience that certain alternative medicine works especailly for musculoskeletal complaints. However, alternative medicine often lack of scientific support and it is hard to convince other regarding their efficiency without a strong study. - Lawrence 19 days ago
Sherry Granader As a nutritionist, how would you approach your patient regarding alternative and complementary medicine? - Lawrence 19 days ago
The first thing I do with a patient is get a detailed description of a typical day for them including wake-up and bed times, meals including time of day, beverages, etc., supplement use, if any and if they are taking any prescription medication(s). All that information provides a good starting point to determine what could be causing a healthy issue or complaint. - Sherry 18 days ago
It;s called the POMR" Problem Orientated Medical Record.[PROM] - David E. Marcinko 13 days ago
Using the SOAP format: Subjective Objective Assessment and Plan. - David E. Marcinko 13 days ago

It is said that humans are bio-psycho-social beings, while science are clear cut when it comes to chemistry, physics and biology, it gets quite disorganized when it comes to psychology. and ambiguous when it comes to the social dimensions of man the same applied to alternative medicine. Humans have been using alternative medicine for years but it lack further studies to prove their efficiency and mechanism. Some time our current technological advancement is still unable to prove it. Being said so, some alternative medicine are based on lies that they just wanted to gain financial benefits from the patients. Have a look at this 2 interesting articles regarding "evidence based medicine and alternative medicine" which i think is worth to have a look!

Chun Wei
17 days ago
It is true that some studies are still quite unclear even until today. For example, Acupuncture is base on the Qi/energy therory. But it is difficult to prove the theory. However, it does provide improvement in certain illness. - Lawrence 17 days ago
I will have to check that out. One book that had a significant impact on my was when I read the book "The Healing Brain" by Robert Ornstein - I have used his techniques ever since to heal my body.. Quite powerful. - Sherry 17 days ago
Sherry Granader I will be glad if you could provide the link to the book. Thanks. - Lawrence 17 days ago /Robertornstein - Sherry 17 days ago
Sherry Granader Broken link. Page not found. Please kindly reshare. Thank you. - Lawrence 17 days ago
If you go to - type in The Healing Brain by Robert Ornstein - Sherry 16 days ago

What is Alternative Medicine? 

First, the more modern and arguably correct term is "complementary medicine".

And, it covers a broad range of topics, philosophies and approaches, such as: herbal formulas, acupuncture, chiropractors, massage therapy, mind-body techniques, neurofeedback, nutritional therapy and traditional Chinese medicine. 

What Common Conditions are Treated? 

The following symptoms have shown some treatment success when conventional medicine did not produced the results that both patients and Western physicians desires:

· allergies
· anxiety
· back pain
· cluster headaches
· depression
· digestive problems
· headaches

Any thoughts?

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
16 days ago
Besides that list, i think Knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis is also one of the reason people would seek complementary medicine. - Lawrence 15 days ago
Epiphany! - David E. Marcinko 8 days ago

Increasing Referrals from the Alternative Medical Community

Recent medical marketing surveys indicate that almost one-third of most managed care plan patients already use some form of complementary medicine and one-third more are considering exploring these new, and often ancient, techniques. Nationally, it is estimated that American are spending over $ 20 billion per year, including 600 million visits annually on complementary and alternative medicine; and these figures will increase in the future. 

So, should Traditionalists learn about these concepts?

Yes, but only if you want your practice to flourish. Cultivating these referral sources is also an excellent marketing idea.

Any thoughts?

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
16 days ago
Great point! - Lawrence 10 days ago
I know. - David E. Marcinko 8 days ago

This Chicago spa lets you bathe in beer—for your health, of course.

If your interest in beer extends beyond tippling the odd pint of IPA at your local brewpub—way beyond—then perhaps Outliers has stumbled upon the right experience for you: soaking in beer.

 (Modern Healthcare)

Any thoughts on CAM?

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
11 days ago
Well, may be if we view it as bathing in alcohol solution to for disinfection purposes! - Lawrence 10 days ago
OK! - David E. Marcinko 8 days ago


The next emerging trend in healthcare is evidence-based medicine. EBM offers the promise of improving the quality of clinical services and reducing costs.


Evidence Based Medicine may be defined as the use of any techniques from science, engineering, risk-management and meta-statistics analysis – to medical literature reviews and randomized controlled trials – in order to aim for the ideal.

According to colleague, healthcare economist and Assistant Professor Gregory Ginn PhD, MEd, CPA of the UNLV, this “ideal” represents the philosophy that medical professionals make “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence” in everyday clinical practice.

Any thoughts?

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
11 days ago

Historical EBM Review

Some pundits argue that EBM is a trend that will prevail for the foreseeable future. In the past, standards of care were often set by panels of experts. Today, however, there is a greater demand for empirical evidence to establish the efficacy of clinical protocols.


EBM can directly affect quality and financial performance because it facilitates the elimination of therapies that cannot be demonstrated to be effective.

For example, EBM can reduce a hospital’s prescription drug costs. Evidence-based medicine may also affect operations management if it shows that multiple approaches to treatment can be efficacious.

Of course, in order to accommodate different modalities of treatment, hospitals will need more sophisticated health information technology systems [HITS] that allow for data integration.


EBM may also be used to support another trend, the development of alternative and complementary medicine.

Your thoughts?

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
11 days ago


Alternate and Complementary Medicine = CAM.

David E. Marcinko MBBS-MD DPM MBA MEd CMP®
8 days ago

In my experience, instead of treating the underlying causes or imbalances, Doctors often merely manage symptoms. Symptoms are seen as something to be suppressed rather than a pointer to some underlying imbalance. They often see the human body as a machine with separate parts that can be treated independently rather than as an integrated whole. In addition the mind and body are also seen as separate independent entities and emotions are often ignored.

Sherry Granader
16 days ago
"In my experience" is an anecdote and pretty meaningless. In advertising it is called "puffery" and acceptable. But, it is not scientific rigor. - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago
Personal opinions are just that - opinions. I like cherries and you like pears. So, what? - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago
Not an indictment of pears or cherries. Just opinion. - David E. Marcinko 14 days ago
Absolutely!! - Sherry 13 days ago
Thank you. - David E. Marcinko 13 days ago

Is the intention of this thread to compare allopathy (symptom based) with alternative medicine (other bases)? Since evidence based alludes to scientific approach which is common to allopathy and several alternative medicine practices such as Ayurveda. I leave out bogus practices such as prayer healing when I say this.

Thushar Kumar
19 days ago
It is to compare your preferences to choose Modern western medicine and alternative/complementary medicine. Which approach would you choose if you suffer from a illness. Western medicine such as pharmacology drugs have substantial studies regarding the drug/treatment techniques. However, alternative medicine lack of concrete studies to support the efficiency of treatment but it works for some. - Lawrence 19 days ago
Opinions and anecdotes! Endorsements, etc. - David E. Marcinko 11 days ago

Have some input?