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Editorial
January 1998

Call for PapersAlternative Neurology

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Arch Neurol. 1998;55(1):16. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.1.16

NEUROLOGISTS ARE focused on a clear scientific basis for the practice of neurology and the pursuit of a biological understanding of brain function. Nobody wants to consider a pre-Flexnerian attitude toward medicine in general and neurology in particular. Alternative neurology represents part science and part speculation and the hope is that a careful scrutiny of this interface of promising but not fully proved therapeutic approaches to neurological disease might offer new insights and advances. The family of ARCHIVES journals and JAMA are presenting a theme approach to this provocative area of medicine and medical science. Our literature has seen papers published in excellent peer-reviewed journals attesting to a positive therapeutic effect of certain diets, vitamins, herbs, anti-inflammatory drugs, massage, biofeedback, electrophysiological stimulation, acupuncture, and even meditation of different sorts for the treatment of neurological disease. Should we take these positive statements of therapeutic effect seriously? Digitalis was isolated from a plant extract. Penicillin was discovered by noting the antibacterial effect of a fungus. Folate is effective in preventing spina bifida. The discovery of a beneficial effect of simple aspirin on coronary and cerebrovascular disease has been a very recent event since its introduction a hundred years ago. We all agree that vitamins B1, B6, and B12 are required to treat specific neurological diseases. What about vitamins E and C, as antioxidants, to treat Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and motor neuron disease? Will certain diets affect the incidence of stroke and multiple sclerosis? Does Ginkgo biloba help patients with Alzheimer disease? Can chronic pain and headache be reduced by acupuncture or electrophysiological stimulation or biofeedback? We have all read papers supporting these modalities.

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