An article in defense of alternative medicine in a very unlikely publication

An article in defense of alternative medicine in a very unlikely publication

What’s a Wall St. Journal reader to think?

Last week I told you about a WSJ article that attacked complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – generally dismissing CAM because it’s not backed up by the fine “gold standard” science that’s responsible for all the wonderful drugs at our disposal (including those that have been pulled from the market because they were, you know, killing people).

Then, just days later, the WSJ editors (apparently intending to drive their readers mad) published an article in praise of alternative medicine.

The article, authored by four CAM heavy hitters – Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil – notes that alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and herbal remedies “are now scientifically documented to be not only medically effective but also cost effective.”

Scientifically documented? That “news” must have a few WSJ readers scratching their heads.

But then the article turns even more radical…

According to Chopra, Ornish, Roy and Weil, correct lifestyle choices can actually be more powerful than drugs and surgery. They cite a recent study (more science!) that found good clean living (exercise, no smoking, balanced diet, minimized stress, loving relationships) may actually turn off genes that prompt cancer, heart disease and inflammation, while turning on protective genes.

And here’s the kicker: Heart surgery is not an effective lifesaver. Which is no surprise to HSI members (see the e-Alert “Passing on the Bypass” 1/23/03), but might come as a shock to WSJ readers. The authors note that in 2006 a staggering $100 billion was spent on coronary angioplasty procedures and coronary bypass operations. But a 2007 study shows that angioplasties and stents prolong life and prevent heart attacks only in five percent of patients. And coronary bypass prolongs life in less than three percent of patients.

Although I don’t agree with this Gang of Four on everything (Ornish, for instance, is an uncompromising low-fat diet advocate), it’s refreshing to see CAM get such a well- presented defense in a seriously mainstream newspaper that’s usually most comfortable promoting the corporate (i.e., drug company) bottom line.

“Alternative Medicine is Mainstream” Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy, and Andrew Weil, Wall St. Journal, 1/9/09,