Maddy on Complimentary Medicine

She\’s actually rather more sane than usual here:

This is one of the most common charges made against complementary medicine – that most of it is no better than placebo. But there is a way of turning that accusation around: perhaps complementary medicine is an effective way to harness placebo as one of the most powerful – and cheapest – of healing processes. Rather than being derogatory about the phenomenon as "just" placebo, perhaps we should see it as one of the most remarkable and little understood aspects of the human body.

Indeed, and the placebo effect is greater the longer the treatment period: having someone fuss over your feet for 30 minutes, as a reflexologist does, can be more effective than the 4.6 minutes that is the average GP visit.

Yes, even despite the fact that reflexology is entirely Woo Woo and the GP can indeed treat many conditions effectively…..and, unfortunately, not treat some others effectively.

However, there\’s one implication of all of this that she doesn\’t pick up on. People pay for these complimentary treatments out of their own pocket: this also increases the power of that placebo effect. (Think through it, if you\’re willing to stump up cash for it you\’re more likely to believe it will work, aren\’t you?)

So, we can indeed harness the placebo effect in a better manner, for both complimentary and conventional treatments. Make patients pay at the point of treatment.

5 comments on “Maddy on Complimentary Medicine

  1. How insulting! Is she saying we should stick to this quackery because it might fool the ignorant proles into thinking they’re getting better?

  2. Josh, I think she is saying that she find science, like, you know, hard. And all those people with, ummm, real qualifications don’t take her very valuable opinions seriously at dinner parties. So it is obvious that the science must be wrong. After all anything Maddie can’t understand must be bollocks, right?

  3. The subs should have ran this by the estimable Ben Goldacre, then she wouldn’t look like such a twat.

    I’d much rather the NHS was spending £150m a year on real peer-reviewed science, whether her Maddie-ness (three letters too many) likes it or not.

    I think she’s probably pitching up for Mary-Ann Seighart’s mantle. It’s not a long reach.

  4. What Mark Wadsworth said. You’re in danger of losing your reputation for being a “pendant”, Tim.

    Although the post a few weeks back taking Andrew Murray (for whom I have no time whatsoever, by the way) to task for imprecise use of the phrase “orders of magnitude” probably built up a pretty big reserve of pedant-points to draw down.

    On what Dan said, I think it’s a fair bet that Maddy would still look like a twat however this article had been subbed.

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