A List of Unique Alternative Medicine

A list of some of the alternative medicine practices you're likely to encounter in the United States. Some of these are considered border-line acceptable even in the professional medical field, and many understand that this is unfortunate.

Mostly these are just scams, quackery, and nonsense, which unfortunately gullible people believe in if they are desperate and grasping at false hope. Keep your eyes peeled for any of these, and be prepared to stamp out the harmful ones.

Doman-Delacato Treatment
This approach, also called "patterning," was developed during the mid-1950s and is still offered at the Institutes for Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its proponents claim that the great majority of cases of mental retardation, learning problems, and behavior disorders are caused by brain damage and poor neurological organization. The treatment is based on the idea that high levels of motor or sensory stimulation can train the nervous system and lessen or overcome handicaps caused by brain damage.

Parents following the program are advised to exercise the child's limbs repeatedly and use other measures said to increase blood flow to the brain and decrease irritability. In 1982 and 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued position statements concluding that "patterning" has no merit, that its proponents' claims are false, and that the demands on families are so great that in some cases there may be actual harm in its use. In 1996, neurologist Steven Novella, M.D., reviewed the scientific literature and concluded that "patterning" was a pseudoscience.

Orthomolecular Therapy
Orthomolecular therapy is defined by its proponents as the treatment of disease by varying the concentrations of substances normally already present in the human body. Its proponents claim that many diseases are caused by molecular imbalances that are corrected by administration of the "right" nutrient molecules at the right time.

Orthomolecular therapy dates back at least to the early 1950s when a few psychiatrists began adding massive doses of nutrients to their treatment of many severe mental problems. The original substance was vitamin B3, and the therapy was termed "megavitamin therapy." Later the treatment regimen was expanded to include other vitamins, minerals, hormones, and dietary supplements, any of which may be combined with conventional drug therapy and even electroshock treatments. A few hundred physicians now use this approach to treat a variety of conditions, both of a mental and physical aspect.

Raw Milk
Raw milk is milk in its unpasteurized state. Public health authorities advocate pasteurization to destroy all disease-producing bacteria that may be present. Health faddists claim that it destroys the essential nutrients. Although about 10% to 30% of the heat-sensitive vitamins, which are vitamin C and thiamine, are destroyed in the pasteurizing process, milk is not a significant source of these nutrients in the first place.

Contaminated raw milk can be a source of harmful bacteria, including those that cause undulant fever, dysentery, salmonellosis, and tuberculosis. "Certified" milk, obtained from cows certified as healthy, is unpasteurized milk with a bacteria count below a specified standard, but it still contains significant numbers of disease-producing organisms.

Rife Frequency Generator
The Attorneys General of Wisconsin and Minnesota have sued to stop an unlicensed woman, Shelvie Rettmann, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, from representing that she cures cancer. In December 1997, Wisconsin Attorney General James Doyle showed that a Wisconsin resident who was diagnosed with advanced colon and liver cancer used Rettmann's services after being told that she could cure the woman's cancer. Although medical doctors had recommended chemotherapy, Rettmann had told her otherwise.

At their first meeting, Rettmann photographed the woman and her daughter with a Polaroid camera and put the photos in a cup fastened to a radionics machine. After informing the mother that she had colon and blood cancer and the daughter that she had breast cancer, Rettmann allegedly advised both to have treatments with a Rife Frequency Generator, a special diet, dietary supplements, a regimen of baths, and something called 'foot zoning', which is a type of foot massage claimed to break up accumulated deposits at the end of foot nerve endings in order to help heal the body.

VAX-D Therapy
The VAX-D Therapeutic Table is a motorized traction device which is used to stretch the lower back. VAX-D is an acronym for "vertebral axial decompression." The device is a two-part table in which the upper part is fixed to the table frame and the lower part slides back and forth to provide sudden intermittent traction. The patient is then anchored to the lower part by a pelvic harness.

VAX-D therapy is usually provided on an outpatient setting for the purpose of relieving back pain. Its providers, including chiropractors, medical and osteopathic physicians, and physical therapists, commonly recommend twenty sessions of 30-45 minutes, with a total cost of several thousand dollars. During the treatment, the patient lies face-down with the upper part of the body on the stationary portion of the table, and with arms overhead, grasping handles attached to the this part of the table. A pneumatic cylinder drives the two parts of the table apart and together to provide gradual stretching alternating with relaxation of the stretching. A typical cycle includes a minute of each half.

Auditory Integration Training
Abbreviated as AIT, this was developed as a treatment for autism by Guy Berard in France in the 1960s and since was introduced into the United States in 1991. It has also been advocated for children and adults with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, migraine headaches, and many other mental conditions.

Proponents claim that individuals with these disorders have hearing that is disorganized, hypersensitive, different between the two ears, or otherwise abnormal. The first step in AIT is an audiogram, a diagram that determines the auditory thresholds to more frequencies than are typically measured during hearing tests. Suitable individuals then undergo training sessions, which are typically two half-hour sessions per day over a 10-day period, that involve listening to music that has been computer-modified to remove frequencies to which they are hypersensitive.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Audiology have warned that no well-designed scientific studies demonstrate that AIT is of any use. AIT devices do not have FDA approval for treating autism, attention deficit disorder, or any other mental condition. In 1997, the FDA banned the importation of the Electric Ear or any other AIT device made by Tomatis International, of Paris, France, and they are now illegal.

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