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May 1999

Careful Evaluation Needed of "Alternative" Claims

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Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(5):602-a-602. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-5-dlt0599

The November 1998 issue of the ARCHIVES on alternative medicine and dermatology (November 1998) certainly is thought provoking. I would like to add my opinion to the discussion. In the enthusiasm and excitement over alternative approaches to medical care, I believe it is important to maintain the perspective of the past. In the prescientific era of medicine, treatment was frequently ineffective if not harmful. Infections, injuries, periodic epidemics of communicable disease, and other medical maladies, with few practical treatments, contributed greatly to human suffering and death. Adoption of the scientific method and the biological model of disease has led to the great triumphs of medicine in combating disease, promoting wellness, and extending the human life span. We must guard against the adoption of unproven remedies based solely on folklore, tradition, or anecdotal reports of success. Unfortunately, some of the articles within the issue on alternative medicine present anecdotes, opinions, and unreferenced statements and conclusions without challenge or editorial comment.

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