Now Reading: Trick or Treatment?

Fearless, intelligent and remorselessly rational, the authors exemplify the same Enlightenment spirit of criticism that animated The Lancet in its early days. One by one, they go through the most influential alternative therapies (acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicines) and subject them to scientific scrutiny. In each case, they ask what is the evidence base for saying that a given therapy “works”? Acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic all come out badly. Singh and Ernst build a compelling case that these therapies are at worst positively dangerous – chiropractic neck manipulation can result in injury or death – and at best, are more or less useless. For example, tests done in Germany have shown that “real” acupuncture works no better in easing migraines than sham acupuncture, a random application of wrongly positioned needles, working as a placebo.

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