According to the New England Journal of Medicine, about one-third of Americans are involved in “unconventional medical treatments” in any given year. Time magazine reported that “Americans spend an estimated 30 billion a year on ‘alternative therapists and faith healers.’” In 1990 Americans made “425 million visits to providers of unconventional therapy, contrasted with 338 million visits to all primary care physicians….” To keep up with this trend, Harvard Medical School began offering a month-long course in “unconventional techniques.” Most unconventional treatments are New Age methods involving Eastern meditation, yoga, visualization, acupuncture, iridology, homeopathy, biofeedback, and other mystical techniques. For example, Jon Kabat-Zinn “has applied Zen concepts to stress reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, which he directs.”
One obvious danger is the absence of regulations. “Anyone who wants to put on a course can do it,” says Stanford University School of Medicine professor Wallace Sampson. “There’s close to zero quality control.” Outside the USA there is even less. Some patients are convinced they have found help; but for many it is a disaster. When doctors in Los Angeles told Pat Paulsen his colon cancer was beyond their ability to cure, he went to “one of about 35 alternative clinics just across the border in Tijuana [Mexico].” After injections “from the embryo of a blue shark,” Paulsen felt so much better that he was going to write a book. Instead, like many others, he died.
Far worse than possible harm to the body is the danger of occult bondage that can result. Chanting accompanies the preparation of some herbal concoctions in order to enhance their occult power. “Faith” in the mysterious can bring a response from the demonic world. Nevertheless, as USA Weekend recently reported:
“With 1 in 3 Americans turning to alternative healers, a government panel has prescribed a change in doctors’ training. Now More MDs-to-be are studying cures from herbs to prayer…. In 50 of the USA’s 135 medical schools, anatomy and biochemistry are being supplemented with acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition, massage and prayer…. A Panel…at the National Institutes of Health recommended all medical and nursing students be exposed to alternative theories and techniques…. ‘We’re not saying every medical student should learn how to be an acupuncturist or a guided imagery leader,’ says Allen Neims, a Florida physician who was chairman of the NIH panel. ‘But they should learn enough about these techniques that they can communicate reasonably with their patients and other practitioners about them….’”