is alt med woo on its way out in europe?

July 24, 2010 — 1 Comment

Much to the chagrin of homeopaths and other alternative medicine gurus, Europe is trying to end its flirt with woo, as the UK and Germany lead the way in rebuking alt med and questioning whether their national health budgets should be paying for treatments which don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Now, alt med isn’t going to be banned by anyone, but it does make sense that when you start seeking treatments with only anecdotes or passionate pleas of “I don’t know how it works, it just works!” presented as proof of their efficacy, people don’t have to pay for your pseudoscientific experiments. As noted by the article in the Spiegel International…

At a time when British patients are forced to wait as long as two weeks for simple operations like appendectomies and when expensive medications are often rejected, many are asking why the government continues to pay for treatments whose effectiveness hasn’t been proven.

It’s one thing to publicly fund hospitals rooted in scientific medical practices and using only well understood, well studied, and constantly updated and improved treatments, but to fall for the quacks’ greedy demands that they be given public funding is a massive disservice to patients who may not be able to buy medication with a proven track record of helping their conditions. The money that’s supposed to help them is being grabbed by either well meaning but naive homeopaths who really think they’re doing something meaningful by diluting an insignificant bit of arsenic or herbal extracts in tens gallons of water, or unscrupulous cranks who will sell false hope with no regard for the impact their actions have on the public at large, and neither should have that kind of power in the medical world.

Keep in mind that across Europe, healthcare is publicly funded and the more alt med woo-meisters nab, the less funds are left to cover legitimate treatments with proven track records. Were the nations’ health services to keep supporting placebo based medical quackery that barely changed since it’s inception in the 1800s, it would leave less to pay for surgeries, check-ups, and antibiotics. At least in the United States, quacks hiding behind the protection of the overly friendly DSHEA can only get very, very limited public funding from a small government-backed research body that consistently fails to prove even a single alt med treatment, and they’re paid by people who surrender their own money, rather than bill the government for their magic tricks.

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