Conversations About Complementary Therapies and Parkinson's Disease

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  1. Although the presentation had many good points, I believe that the presentation of alternative and complementary approaches and treatments was biased in favor of these unproven and possibly dangerous treatments. There's a reason that there are few, if any, well-designed and repeatable studies that show a benefit from these treatments. The reason is that most of these treatments don't work on objective findings. Any improvements are due to the placebo effect.

    There was a discussion of acupuncture. There is no uniformity of acupuncture points. Different "schools" of acupuncture use different points. There was mention of tests in animals. How were proper points found in animals? How can the improvement be accurately measured?

    Energy medicine is totally unproven and unmeasurable. The same applies to chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation.

    Many may say "What's the harm in trying these unproven treatments?" There are many potential harms. There may be a delay in obtaining proven care and treatments while trying alternative approaches. The death of Steve Jobs has been attributed to his delay in obtaining proven treatment while he tried alternative approaches to treat his cancer.

    As the presenter stated, there are additional costs for people who may be experiencing financial hardships already.

    Some of these treatments may lead to complications such as strokes from cervical manipulation, infection from acupuncture needling, punctured organs or bleeding from acupuncture, interactions with drugs, and toxicity from impurities in many products.

    A number of times the presenter suggested people "do their own research." This sounds nice but, in reality, is meaningless. Most people don't have the training and experience to properly understand and evaluate research articles. There's a reason doctors spend so much time in school learning about the scientific method, biology, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, statistics, and many other fields of science needed to understand how to diagnose and treat patients.

    All too often, a person "doing their own research" finds a website or two supporting their preconceived notions and then feels they have researched the topic. It takes reading many articles and critically analyzing them to really "do your own research."

    I am not saying that some alternative treatments may work, but until they are proven to work it's best to stay away from them. Remember, if an alternative treatment is proven to work it's called "medicine."

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