Alternative medicine isn't something I've studied at all. I don't bother conventional doctors much either because I'm rarely ill enough to take up their time. I haven't even had my blood pressure tested in decades and I've never had a cholesterol test. Shocking, isn't it? Here I am, managing to stay alive without being tested for anything. How dare I?
So I haven't experienced much at all in the way of medicine, alternative or conventional.
As far as I understand it, 'alternative' includes things like homeopathy, acupuncture, something involving poking your feet that I can't recall the name of and other things that I would consider harmless. Whether they are effective or not I wouldn't like to say, having experienced none of them myself. Yet I would consider them harmless because they don't involve any invasive techniques, no cutting, no drugs, nothing like that. Even homeopathic remedies I would say are harmless because of the extreme dilution.
If someone has a stress-related illness, with symptoms that are entirely psychological, then any placebo will work as long as the patient believes it. Any relaxation treatment will help with stress, anything the patient believes in will alleviate imagined symptoms.
I don't discount the possibility that some of these alternatives might have effects on real diseases too, but I'm a scientist so I need to see data to convince me. Many herbs have proven antibacterial effects, and some have proven systemic effects. Wintergreen for headaches, for example, does work because wintergreen contains salicylic acid (better known as aspirin). New data (unpublished so I can't say too much or someone won't ever tell me anything again) has shown that some types of fruit have a direct effect on Salmonella infection, and other infections, in the gut. Anecdotally, I know several people who say that acupuncture has definitely helped them with arthritic pain. Whether it alleviated the arthritis or simply reduced their perception of the pain, doesn't matter to them. They feel in less pain and that's what counts.
So I maintain that alternative medicine is harmless. What is not harmless, however, is some people's mania for these treatments which reaches a level bordering on the fanatical.
There are many things alternative medicine can't do. There are some things that medical science simply must be trusted with. If you have a serious and chronic gut infection, don't just eat fruit. Get antibiotic treatment. Eat the fruit too - it'll help your gut recover - but get the antibiotics. If you have cancer, do not rely on herbal tea and pins in your skin. Get to a doctor and get that thing cut out. If it's done early your chances of survival are good. If it's left to fester while you run the gamut of alternative therapies, you're going to die. Get it out first, then go to alternatives for pain relief and recovery if you wish.
Should you be one of those who regards 'alternative' as your only choice, then I suggest you read this all the way through.
Alternatives have a place. It's good to have choices.
The trick lies in making the right choice.