Examining the Alternatives

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I read your report on alternative medicine with great interest ["Embracing Alternative Care," January 21].

Our 10-year-old son has been suffering from chronic Lyme disease for five years. Otherwise, I doubt we would have had a reason to experience and appreciate integrative medicine. Little boys who like to wrestle and play football have little ability or inclination to lie about what's working and what isn't. At various times, we've seen dramatic and immediate relief and improvement from both integrative and traditional therapies. It's our hope that by combining both, we increase our odds of some day finding a lasting cure.

Miki Smith

Prairie du Sac, Wis.  

I hope that patients and those studying alternative care remember that almost all therapies show 33 to 50 percent effectiveness due to the "placebo effect." It will be impossible to do rigorous, double-blinded studies on most of these alternative therapies, so their effectiveness is likely to remain unproven. What is proven is that there are people who will buy even the most unproven product.

Everest A. Whited, M.D.

Pflugerville, Texas  

I laughed out loud while reading the short article "Anxiety's Steep Toll on Your Heart" [January 21]. I recalled the remark in your article on alternative medicine: "techniques such as yoga and massage, acknowledged by the most hard-line skeptics to have some benefit, if only to lower stress and anxiety." Here's a thought: If it is not harmful—and healing touch, therapeutic touch, and reiki are not harmful—try it. I often wonder if the skeptics have lived with chronic pain, complex regional pain syndrome, depression, anxiety, diabetes, or other diseases in which stress and anxiety play a role. As a practitioner of reiki because it soothes and calms, I promise no miracles, except the miracle of allowing one's body to have a chance to heal.

Constance Lee Menefee


Alternative Medicine discussed an important and growing trend in our nation's healthcare system. However, I was disappointed to find chiropractic had been omitted. Today there are at least several hundred doctors of chiropractic who work within a hospital setting where they deliver nonsurgical, drug-free care to thousands of patients. One notable example of chiropractic's successful integration includes the chiropractic department at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Healthcare delivered by a multidisciplinary team has tremendous potential to remedy the country's healthcare crisis.

Glenn Manceaux, D.C.

American Chiropractic Association
Arlington, Va.