Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quackery then--but what about now?

The WSJ has a review of a book by Erika Janik called The Marketplace of the Marvelous (Feb 22-23, 2104).

It is about alternative medicine--as it proliferated in the 19th Century. Wild herbs, cold baths, head bumps, hypnotism and more.

Of course these practitioners were branded quacks--but they banded together to fight back. They founded schools, started journals.

And some of the stuff that was going on was worse--bloodletting, blistering, purgatives. The new approaches blended with American forms such as osteopathy (later moving closer to mainstream medicine) and chiropracty (stayed in the spine area).

One "school" of thought focused on the herb lobelia--a purgative.

Still, today, we have cleanses, use water for rehabbing injuries, and many variations on the old ways linger. Chemo, for instance, is a broad brush, killing good and bad cells.

I am not saying chemo is quackery, but I am saying many approaches blend over time.

The author of the review notes that most people get better no matter what is done. Luckily.

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