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A Piece of My Mind
November 11, 1998

Leeches, Spiders, and Astrology: Predilections and Predictions

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(18):1560-1562. doi:10.1001/jama.280.18.1560

I care for a patient who is 53 and obese with high lipid levels, borderline hypertension, and a strong family history of heart disease. She loves rich foods, hates exercise, and fears synthetic compounds. Recently she has avidly embraced alternative therapies and tells me glowingly about her various healers, the herbal preparations she swallows, and homeopathic medicines that limit her colds.

She is typical of many persons in my practice. People in the United States are rushing toward alternative therapies.1 What's going on? What does the future hold in the long-standing interplay between allopathic and alternative medicine? Drawing primarily on conversations with my patients, I offer observations and predictions that suggest we are in the midst of a fad that will pass.

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