The Instigator
banana_lover
Pro (for)
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0 Points
The Contender
po.osullivan
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Alternative medicine should be used more in the Western Culture

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/10/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,496 times Debate No: 32303
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

banana_lover

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate :D
I will define alternative medicine as:
"Any of a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture," and will allow my opponent to state their point first
po.osullivan

Con

I'll take this.

For this debate, I will attempt to prove that the use of alternative medicine, as Pro defines it, in Western culture does not need to be expanded. I will assert that there are no valid scientific studies that show alternative medicine has more effect than a placebo, and will put forth an argument that having such ineffective remedies presented as an alternative to conventional medicine leads people to turn to alternative medicine INSTEAD of the western medicine that has been proven to help manage or cure disease.

As Pro has the burden of proof, I wish him luck in presenting his argument.
Debate Round No. 1
banana_lover

Pro

Hello Pro, thank you again for accepting this debate.

Before I begin my points, I would like to rebutt the points that you have laid out.

Rebuttal
There are no valid scientific studies that show alternative medicine has more effect than a placebo.
This is not necessarily true as there are cases in which alternative medicine does work even though conventional medicine does not. An example of this is when Sally* had a skin condition that caused her skin to become pale. When she spoke to conventional doctors, they told her that it was incurable and would just spread all over her body, providing her with only foundation. However she then went to a ayurvedic doctor that used alternative medicines, who gave her a treatment that did reduce the amount of infection to only a small amount just under her chin. Although it did take some time, it did cure it and if she had listened to the advice of a conventional doctor her life would be a lot different than it is now.

*This name was changed for privacy reasons.

Negative Points:
Conventional medicine, like all drugs, has side effects. If you overdose (take too much), you"ll die. This is especially true for paracetamol like panadol, that people often take. Even cold medicine that most people think is completely safe has side effects that can sometimes make people drowsy and tired, and sometimes increase their heart rate and cause them to be restless and anxious. This is only listing a few of the side effects that it has. When in surgery, surgeons use general anaesthetics to make the patient unconscious. If they use too much, the patient wont wake up, if they use too little the patient will wake up and feel the pain. It is a fact that conventional medicine, though tested in laboratories and approved by the AMA and FDA, still has many side effects that seem to sometimes harm patients more than it helps them. As a result of side effects, you begin to take more medicines to heal those side effects that the original medicine caused and so you're just continuing to harm your body even more. This shows that conventional medicine is risky and has side effects whether it is simple cold medicine or medicine for more serious injuries. Alternative medicine has helped many people by giving them an alternative to conventional medicine"s negative side effects and less natural beginnings.

Alternative medicine also helps heal patients on a higher level than conventional medicine.
Unlike conventional medicine, which generally only focuses on curing the immediate illness, alternative medicine works on both the cause and effect of the illness and uses herbs from nature, hands on techniques and even mental techniques like meditation to help the patient get better. Alternative medicine allows the patient to be involved in their own recovery by telling them to do, like exercise and therapy. This makes them think that they are helping themselves get better and so they have better morale, which contributes to their recovery. Instead of simply taking a pill as in conventional medicine patients take part in their own recovery and gain mental, physical, spiritual and emotional benefits.

Conclusion
Alternative medicine should be used more in today"s society which is mostly governed by the western culture, because it covers many of the faults that conventional medicine has. That concludes my case.
po.osullivan

Con

Hello Con, I am happy to accept, and look forward to a spirited debate.

But first, I do not know "Sally." For all I know, you made her up. You cannot point to her story as proof of the power of alternative medicine without any evidence that it even happened. In addition, knowledge of her skin condition would be helpful, as well as the exact "alternative medicine" that she was given.

Regardless, one example does not legitimize an entire field. Did "Sally" know she was receiving medicine? Was "Sally" told that the medicine could work? Did "Sally" believe the medicine could work? If the answer to any of those questions is "Yes," then there is a possibility that "Sally's" condition was helped by the placebo effect, a documented effect where a patient who thinks he is receiving treatment will show improvement, even if no treatment is given. This is why clinical trials of new drugs are done in a "double-blind" setting, where neither the person administering the drugs nor the person receiving the drugs knows if the medicine given contains an active ingredient. Often, both groups of patients will show improvement, but the drug is only considered successful if the group of patients taking the drugs improved more than the group taking the inactive placebos.

As to your point about side effects, everything has side effects. Every nutrient that we put into our bodies has an upper intake limit, above which, it becomes toxic. Even water, in large enough quantities may kill a person. This is not a property unique to conventional medicine, and is not "especially true" for paracetamol.

You may point out that alternative remedies do not have side effects. The reason for this is simple: Alternative remedies do not have active ingredients. Drugs are not all made in labs. Before Bayer isolated the chemical compound that you and I know as "aspirin," the same effects could be found by eating the bark of a willow tree, which contained high levels of the compound. As I'm sure you know, aspirin has side effects, and should not be given to children. This also goes for the unpurified willow powder, which would be regulated by the FDA if it were put on the market as an aspirin substitute.

But why don't alternative remedies available on the market now have any side effects? Simple: they don't have any active ingredients. Sure, herbs might be helpful to help a stomachache or ease minor ailments, but the herbal supplements found in stores do not contain nearly enough to make any sort of difference. You mentioned general anaesthetics and their use in the medical field. While a patient may be given too much anaesthesia, a patient would never be given too much of an alternative sleeping pill. Unfortunately for the patient, he also would never be able to be given the proper amount of an alternative sleeping pill. You could eat a whole bottle of those pills, and you wouldn't even feel so much as drowsy, if not for the placebo effect, and even then, no ill effects would be felt after a quick nap.

In short, alternative medicine gives patients an alternative to conventional medicine's negative side effects, but it also gives them an alternative to conventional medicine's proven cures. I still have not seen a peer-reviewed study proving the effectiveness of alternative medicine over a placebo.

You are also implying that conventional medicine's "less natural beginnings" are a negative. Is that true? In what cases has the isolation of an active compound proved less effective than a natural remedy, which may be more difficult to use (e.g., if the compound works better as an injection), or is not absorbed as well if it is not purified?

I concede that alternative medicine's holistic approach helps patients, but it is not something that should replace conventional medicine. How does meditation help with an infection? If bacteria is in your bloodstream, does therapy do any good? This seems to be a case where your implication about conventional medicine not curing the causes and the effects of illnesses does not hold up. Higher morale may lead to a patient's body resting more and acting more efficiently, but that is essentially "waiting out" an infection, as opposed to an antibiotic, which deals with the cause of the illness, leading to a stoppage of the effects.

As you say, holistic techniques "make them think that they are helping themselves get better and so they have better morale, which contributes to their recovery. Instead of simply taking a pill as in conventional medicine patients take part in their own recovery and gain mental, physical, spiritual and emotional benefits."

This "recovery," deriving from the mental, spiritual, and emotional benefits of alternative medicine is a perfect example of the placebo effect. If you have a bacterial infection, you can improve your self-worth as much as you want, but until your body cleanses itself, it will only have an effect on how good you FEEL, rather than how good you actually are. Conventional medicine gives your body a boost to make sure you actually get better, unlike alternative medicine, which is unable to aid your physical body.
Debate Round No. 2
banana_lover

Pro

Rebuttal:

Pro made many points that were obviously flawed. I will show you the point first, and the rebuttal will be stated after.

  • I do not know "Sally." For all I know, you made her up. Sally does indeed exist and I apologise that I did not include the source of this information in the previous round. The source will be included at the end.
  • Did "Sally" know she was receiving medicine? Was "Sally" told that the medicine could work? Did "Sally" believe the medicine could work? If the answer to any of those questions is "Yes," then there is a possibility that "Sally's" condition was helped by the placebo effect. I understand what you’re saying, however by your argument people also believe that the medicine they are given will work in conventional medicine. Also, after a conventional doctor told her that it was incurable I don’t think Sally would have believed very much in alternative medicine working so it was unlikely that her cure was due to the placebo effect.
  • Everything has side effects. Every nutrient that we put into our bodies has an upper intake limit, above which, it becomes toxic. Alternative medicine of course, is not completely free of side effects
  • Alternative remedies do not have active ingredients. Drugs are not all made in labs. Before Bayer isolated the chemical compound that you and I know as "aspirin," the same effects could be found by eating the bark of a willow tree. Saying that eating the bark of a willow tree has effects like aspirin contradicts your point that alternative remedies do not have active ingredients.
  • I still have not seen a peer-reviewed study proving the effectiveness of alternative medicine over a placebo. Everything does not have to be studied to be useful. If you think back to before conventional medicine was created, everyone had to use herbs and therapy in order to cure themselves. If alternative medicine did not work then all these people would have died.
  • I concede that alternative medicine's holistic approach helps patients, but it is not something that should replace conventional medicine. How does meditation help with an infection? If bacteria is in your bloodstream, does therapy do any good? If we refer back to the moot, it is saying that alternative medicine should be used more, not that it should replace conventional medicine, so your point is irrelevant. Also, meditation and therapy are not the only alternative medications out there. Obviously for things like infections you would use antibacterial herbs such as Goldenseal or Aloe Vera.
  • If you have a bacterial infection, you can improve your self-worth as much as you want, but until your body cleanses itself, it will only have an effect on how good you FEEL, rather than how good you actually are. As I mentioned before, you would have antibacterial herbs for this, or you could have honey. These remedies would help your body cleanse itself, making you feel better as well as actually being better.

Affirming Point:

Conventional doctors these days often don’t pay attention to the patient’s needs.
Doctors often believe in their medicine so much that if they can’t find a cure, or if the disease they are attempting to cure is not within their medical knowledge, they do not attempt to cure it. This was true for sally, to whom doctors said that her skin infection was incurable.

They also don’t make a full examination of the patient to see exactly WHY they are sick. When we go to the doctors with cold symptoms, they immediately assume that you have a cold, without giving you a full check up. An example is sinusitis, which is an inflammation of tissue lining the sinuses. When you get this, you have symptoms that are very much similar to that of a cold, like a runny nose, cough or a fever. However it is much more dangerous than a cold and if it gets serious and is left untreated, the infection could pass through the sinus and start infecting the fluid and tissues around the brain, resulting in meningitis.

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po.osullivan

Con

I'm not sure you understand the importance of randomized trials, or even how the placebo effect works.

In 1955, Henry K. Beecher published a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, where he summarized the results of a series of experiments he had conducted. Beecher reported that 35% of 1082 patients had received some form of benefit from an inert "placebo." Beecher's milestone work was one of the first studies to attempt to quantify the effect of placebos, which had been given in the past to assuage patients who felt they needed medicine. The report showed that the simple act of taking a pill caused a significant number of patients to show improvement. A recent study even showed that patients who knew they were taking a placebo received positive results. This is why nearly all clinical trials for new drugs are "placebo-controlled," meaning that there is a group receiving the experimental treatment, and a group receiving a placebo. Both groups are treated identically, and if the group receiving the actual medicine exhibits more improvement than the control group, then the medicine is considered effective.

Studies involving alternative medicine are not typically placebo-controlled. They do not typically have a large sample size, which is used in statistics to reinforce a conclusion. They are usually anecdotal, such as your story of "Sally," and the "evidence," which is a testimonial video produced by a practitioner of alternative medicine. Even if "Sally" was cured entirely by alternative medicine (Of which a change in diet is not a part of, as per your definition of alternative medicine; conventional doctors often recommend dietary changes), her case can not be extrapolated to the entire human population. If she was chosen to appear in a testimonial video, she obviously had above-average improvement.

A brief aside, in your rebuttal, you said it was unlikely that "Sally's" improvement was due to the placebo effect, because a conventional doctor had told her her condition was incurable. If "Sally" truly thought her condition was incurable, she would not have visited an alternative medicine practitioner, as people do not submit themselves to hardship if they are 100% sure that there is no benefit to it. Obviously "Sally" believed that there could be some benefit, and therefore could have been influenced by the placebo effect.

Most problematic about the video describing "Sally's" condition is the part where she is described as having "vitiligo." This skin condition, which occurs when the cells responsible for producing skin pigments are unable to function, would have been recognized by any competent doctor, and "Sally" would have been treated in one of several ways. I was unable to understand a large part of the video, but if "Sally" was sent home with only foundation, she should have seen a doctor, and not a cosmetics salesman.

In your point from Round 3, you paint a very inaccurate and unflattering picture of doctors. Doctors do have notoriously large egos, however they never "do not attempt to cure a disease." Doctors tend to be exceptionally smart, but they can not be relied on to know every symptom of every disease, and it is for that reason that hospitals have libraries of diagnostic books, and in recent years, digital tools to aid practitioners. They trust in their medicine because everything they give a patient has been rigorously tested to prove that it works, unlike alternative medicine, which you still can not seem to find scientific proof for. Doctors aren't trying to hurt patients, either actively, or by casting them out due to ignorances. They also try not to hurt them financially. Do you know how much a full battery of tests costs? It is far easier, and in the majority of cases, perfectly effective to see a patient present with a runny nose and fever and tell them to sleep it off. Doctors will also tell the patient to come back if the symptoms do not get better. This indicates that it might be necessary to look more in-depth. Doing so sooner only results in a waste of both the patient and doctor's time and money.

Finally, I sincerely hope that my opponent is Dr. Yvonne M. Stegall, Ph.D, as several paragraphs of Pro's argument have been lifted almost verbatim from her article (4th in the list of sources). In addition, even though Pro provided an impressive list of sources, most of them are completely useless. The first makes outlandish statements like "Most medical schools don't teach disease prevention, proper diet or exercise as a part of health." Doctors know the value of diet and exercise, and ask a patient about their habits during a normal physical. The second does show the complications that result from sinusitis, but it does not mention that, despite Pro's statement to the contrary, doctors can easily differentiate sinusitis from a cold. Though the two conditions present with a runny nose and a fever, sinusitis is distinguished by an intense headache originating in the sinuses, which allows doctors to check for it, recognize it quickly, and treat it before complications develop.

Pro's third source is sourced entirely from "www.findthisonline.com," which is currently an empty domain name, and can be assumed to have no medical knowledge, while the fourth source is not necessary to read, because the majority of it is in Pro's Round 2 argument.
Debate Round No. 3
banana_lover

Pro

banana_lover forfeited this round.
po.osullivan

Con

Arguments continued. There is no reason to increase the use of alternate medicine when Pro can not even produce one shred of evidence that it actually works in a typical case.. Vote Con
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by banana_lover 4 years ago
banana_lover
Sorry, yes I did. OOPSIES
Posted by Nijal.T 4 years ago
Nijal.T
I THINK SHE MEANT AFFIRMING!!!?? :o COS THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE... BANANA_LOVER
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