Is natural medicine unscientific?

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

One of the enduring claims made about the practice of natural medicine is that it’s unscientific.

In contemporary clinical practice and as AHPRA Registered Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practitioners my peers and I are required to practice evidence based medicine (EBM).

The mainstay of EBM is the randomised controlled trial (RCT).

The gold standard of EBM is the meta-analysis of multiple RCTs.

Here’s a recent Australian meta-analysis of acupressure or acupuncture for labour pain: Acupuncture or acupressure for pain management during labour.

This is a different study from the one I looked at here.

I was inspired to write this post after reading this article: The fascinating history of clinical trials where you’ll discover

One of the earliest observational studies occurred nearly 1,000 years ago in China. The 1061 Atlas of Materia Medica (Ben Cao Tu Jing) was compiled and edited by Song Su, a renowned scientist, administrator, diplomat and military strategist.

It documented a trial of ginseng.

Obviously in 21sC practice we don’t recommend ginseng or any other herbal remedy based on studies that are hundreds of years old.

Nevertheless it’s worth re-stating that within their respective paradigms of culture, science and learning, throughout history women and men of medicine have studied and documented the results of their treatments and prescriptions.

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