Alternative medicine (AM) is hugely popular; about 40% of the US general population have used at least one type of alternative treatment in the past year, and in Germany this figure is around 70%. The money spent on AM is considerable: the global market is expected to reach nearly US $ 200 billion by 2025, with most of these funds coming directly out of consumers' pockets.
The reasons for this popularity are complex, but misinformation is certainly a prominent factor. The media seem to have an insatiable appetite for the subject and often report uncritically on it. Misinformation about AM on the Internet (currently about 50 million websites are focused on AM) is much more the rule than the exception.
Consumers are thus being bombarded with misinformation on AM and they are ill-protected from such misinformation and therefore prone to making wrong, unwise or dangerous therapeutic decisions, endangering their health and wasting their money.
This book is a reference text aimed at guiding consumers through the maze of AM. The concept of the book is straightforward. It has two main parts. The first, short section provides essential background on AM, explaining in simple terms what is (and what is not) good, reliable evidence, and addressing other relevant issues like, for instance, the placebo response, informed consent, integrative medicine, etc.
The second and main part consists of 150 short chapters, topically grouped and each dedicated to one single alternative therapeutic or diagnostic method. In each of them, seven critical points are raised. These points relate to issues that are important for consumers' decisions whether it is worth trying the method in question. Restricting the discussion to just seven points means that issues must be prioritized to those themes which are most relevant in the context of each given modality.