Do you believe in alternative medicine? There are many people who say they do.
“I believe in alternative medicine,” writes business coach Sarah Santacroce.
“I believe in alternative medicine, and massage therapy is one of the most holistic aspects of the field. The benefits of touch positively affect the mind, body, and spirit,” says Kelly Mantovani, though she never explains precisely what the benefits to a person’s spirit from her alternative approach are.
People believe in alternative medicine, but they often have difficulty describing what it is. A representative for True North Business Consultants writes, paradoxically, that “I believe in alternative medicine because I do not consider it alternative.”
“CAT” writes on a Yahoo Answers board that, “I believe in alternative medicine, it works for me. Traditional medicine basically takes care of symptoms but very rarely the cure.” This idea that alternative medicine provides cures, while traditional medicine only treats symptoms, is common. There’s no hard evidence, though, to suggest that therapies labeled as “alternative medicine” actually cure medical conditions at a greater rate than therapies labeled as “traditional medicine”.
The difference between alternative medicine and traditional medicine mostly seems to be that practitioners of alternative medicine claim to cure conditions more than practitioners of traditional medicine do. Apparently, talking big is a common technique in alternative medicine.
Really, anything can be called “alternative medicine.” I could come up with a therapy that revolves around playing with Lego blocks, and call it “alternative medicine”.
Or, maybe baking soda could be categorized as a form of alternative medicine. Actually, this is taking place. Joanna Ocean of the Worthy To Know web site writes that, “According to the result of research findings, cancer is a lactic acid, which is formed when a certain kind of fungus or moldlives [sic] in an environment devoid of oxygen.” Ocean claims that there is “fascinating evidence that proves that sodium bicarbonate can indeed cure a lot of serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.”
Sodium bicarbonate is a common substance kept in almost every home: It’s baking soda. If cancer is a lactic acid, and baking soda can eliminate that deadly lactic acid, why aren’t people with cancer simply curing themselves with baking soda? The dark explanation provided by Ocean is that the pharmaceuticals industry knows about the cure-all benefits of baking soda, but is suppressing information about the cure, so that it can continue to profit from the sale of its anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs. Baking soda is “a nightmare to the pharmaceutical industry,” she writes.
Ocean’s ideas offer an interesting alternative… to reality. The real reason that baking soda isn’t used as a mainstream anti-cancer therapy is that it’s never been proven to work.
The idea that baking soda can be used to treat cancers comes from Tullio Simoncini, a former physician. Simoncini asserted that cancers are actually caused by a form of yeast, Candida albicans, and that treatment with baking soda cures cancer by addressing this underlying fungal problem. However, there are no peer-reviewed scientific studies that show that all, or even most, cancers are caused by yeast infections. There are also no peer-reviewed scientific studies that provide evidence that cancers can be cured with baking soda.
What’s the harm of trying baking soda as a cure for cancer? Several people have died after being treated by Tullio Simoncini.
Cancer is not lactic acid. Lactic acid is a little molecule, and cancer is a disease caused the uncontrolled growth of tissue throughout the body. Cancer is alive. Lactic acid is not. They’re two separate things.
There is research to suggest that the growth of cancer involves lactic acid. An article published in the Journal of Pathology last year discusses how cancerous tumors can produce lactic acid, which may enable survival and spread of the tumors by suppressing the immune system’s ability to recognize and control the cancer.
It’s an intriguing finding, what the study’s authors call a “paradigm shift” that “can have major impact on therapeutic strategy development” of cancers. Before this paradigm shift in thinking about cancer can be put into effect to treat cancer more successfully, however, it needs to be tested scientifically. It’s a sad truth that many interesting theories about how cancer could be cured turn out not to work in practice.
Human health and human disease are complex, and not yet fully understood. Some kinds of cancer can be effectively treated. Many cannot. In the future, effective and tolerable forms of treatment for more kinds of cancer will developed. It’s even possible that sodium bicarbonate may be part of future cancer treatments. On the other hand, it’s also possible that sodium bicarbonate treatments will be found not to be relevant at all to cancer.
Medicine needs more alternative therapies to add to the treatments it already has made available. The most reliable way to gain those alternatives, however, is to conduct competently-designed scientific research, rather than simply making assertions based on what we would like to be true.