The Alternative Medicine…. It Does Nothing!


BETHESDA, Md. – Ten years ago the government set out to test herbal and other alternative health remedies to find the ones that work. After spending $2.5 billion, the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.

Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.

(via Bad Astronomy)


  1. I can attest to ginger helping with nausea in general. If you ever get really sea sick, suck/chew on a piece of ginger, it works wonders.

  2. think there was a mythbusters test of seasickness remedies that included ginger and it worked to a degree, everything else sucked outside of mainstream drugs… interesting.

  3. The funding for that study came from big pharma. Of course none of it worked, it would put too many people out of business.

  4. You should hear my father (a pharmacist) start ranting about this stuff. There are people who buy expensive garlic-capsules. It’s compressed… garlic! And needless to say, it does nothing.

  5. Wonder if all the imitation medicine being made in China/Columbia from paint/cement is as good as the real thing?According to Dateline even the pharmacist can’t tell which is which.

  6. Please, what works, works. Maybe not what it is being advertised for, but not everything is snake oil. Everything you ingest affects you – but also helps if you are actually getting what the label says your are. Most of the time you get stuff that is dried to the point of uselessness. I am sure this “study” was poorly done. Any self-serving study is.

    Pharma will NEVER want you to use natural remedies. My god – if we all exercised and ate a natural healthy diet we wouldn’t need them!! (says the woman who pounded down half a pizza and watched a movie last night)

    Most “alternative medicine” is bunk – but there are things that do work, like ginger. Chewing on a clove will freshen your breath, kill germs in your mouth and deaden tooth pain. Chamomile tea makes me pass out. Yoga IS good for you. So is NOT pounding down half a pizza and watching a movie but boy is it fun!

    Some of the studies they said they were doing sounded very suspect to me – and rather stupid. If you’re going to test echinacea why not test all of it? Why would you waste the time and money testing ONE specie?

    Here’s one – one of my favorites. Next time you get heartburn, I know this sounds icky, drink a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar (mix in a little water to make it more palatable). I guarantee you it will go away. It works every time. Especially if you have a tomato heart burn problem. No side effects, no chalky taste – just almost instant relief. Will your doctor recommend you do this? No. Here take prilosec and screw up your digestive system entirely.

    Use what works, what your common sense says is safe. Pushing my eyeballs in my head will not make me lose weight. Nor will stuffing 4 slices of pizza in my piehole.

    (okay I’m feeling guilty. It was the PMS. I forgot to take my black cohosh (not)

    soapbox – done! 🙂

  7. I understand that some of the “alternative” treatments like ginger seem to work for certain ailments. I really don’t care what people take. It’s up to them. But I can say that I would probably be fairly upset if someone I was close to became ill and decided to take the strictly alternative route, especially if the illness was one that could be treated with pharmaceutical drugs already proven to work.

  8. I don’t think I’d treat major diseases with alternative medicine, although they must do something in the body if some have enough action to interfere with chemo.

    If it’s reasonably priced and does no harm, it might be worth a try. Example- as with people, animal supplements can be expensive. In reading equine journals, friends discovered that ground flax ($15.00 for pounds and pounds of the stuff which we ground ourselves) is an anti-inflammatory. I have a horse with mild arthritis and his first winter with us he was swollen and lame. When flax was added, he was

    I keep thinking of that kid and his mother who ran away from chemo and insisted on alternative medicine. I wonder how he’s progressing now he’s back in treatment.

  9. @Julia S.
    Soapbox well deserved, there are many natural remedies that help keep you healthy. That’s just common sense. If you stay healthy your immune system functions better.
    I’m skeptical about taking vitamin supplements and just expecting that’s going to keep you well. But these vitamins are required by your body to maintain its internal functions, and I personally believe the body absorbs these vitamins better through the foods they naturally occur in.
    Western medicine and pharmaceuticals will combat targeted disease AFTER you are sick, this is undeniable. You can’t argue with the fact that pharmaceuticals are designed through scientific study and testing to cure ailments and diseases, and as long you don’t have to deal with any nasty side effects, they will work. Why be sick when you can take some pills and be well again?

    But when it comes to maintaining a healthy system and making sure you have a good immunity nothing beats the use of natural supplements.
    I’m a firm believer in the use of pharmaceuticals and natural remedies side-by-side.

    Oh yeah, and a tea spoon of cider vinegar kills the hiccups instantly (I was taught this trick by an old drama teacher, it really works).

  10. @MattyK “But when it comes to maintaining a healthy system and making sure you have a good immunity nothing beats the use of natural supplements”

    Presumably by “natural supplements” you mean fresh fruit and vegetables?


  11. @Phil
    Yeah, I mean fresh fruits and vegetables, herbal teas and infusions (great if your feeling under the weather, or if you need help concentrating. Peppermint or Rosehip I’ve found helps wonders if your having trouble with studies or work.)
    Macrobiotics, vitamin supplements and natural remedies (like hot lemon and honey for a sore throat, or cloves for a toothache) etc..

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