Our expert says:
Sheesh ! I wrote a long and utterly brilliant respons to your interesting question, but then just as I was finishing it and before I could save a copy of it, XP crashed and IE froze, and I couldn't post it or save it, and it was lost forever. Now my brain freezes over and won't allow me to try to say the same thing again, as it is convinced that I have already done that.
So, in summary --- the old oriental theories you mention are similar to old Greek / Roman / medieval European theories of the Four Temperaminets, based on the four supposed body flueds, so tghat people were described as Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic, according to whether they were supposed to have an excess of blood, yellow bile, black bile, or water. The principal difference between orthodox Western medicine and the others is that we long ago adopted the scientific method for testing our theories and methods, and are prepared to abandon ideas and treatments that dont work or cant eb shown to be effective. I've lost count of the number of treatments which were solemnly taught to us which I had to describe for my final exams, which would now be considered dangerous. So the big difference is not so much the details, as the way that the other old traditions reject critical testing of their beliefs and methods, and believe basically that if your grandfather said it was so, it IS so. They don't noticeably refine or develop their methods, and don't discard beliefs that are not working.
So, of the "Alternative" methods, the best do what much of current medicine does, and relieve symptoms rather than cure things. Acupuncture is useful in SOME cases of pain, and massage helps for very simple reasons ; meditatio of various forms helps to promote relaxation. That's about it.
As you notice, the Alternative methods all have very fierce ways for explaining away why their treatments didn't work, always blaming the patient and not the treatment.
I like the Skepdic site, and also quackwatch.org, and others.
And as you say, there are remakably few of the prominent practitioners of "Alternative healing" who don't themselves use orthodox medicine when they are in need. And Tango raises a vitally important point --- one thing most alternative practitioners are excellent at, is the therapist-patiwent relationship --- they are pretty good at making you feel confident and happy, by using simple and well-known methods of chat.
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