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Indeed, "holistic", "natural" or "homeopathic" medicines do have a long and distinguished history over the course of human development, and certainly have inspired modern medicine. Currenlty popular examples include substances such as Golden Seal and St. John's Wort; other examples of natural medicine with long histories include: Some of these have their roots in the distinguished practice of Galenic medicine, notable for its codification of the four humours, dating back to around 100-200 CE. We shouldn't judge him too harshly, of course - Galen was the first physician to include checking a patient's pulse in his diagnostic techniques. Progress in medicine is incremental, as with all things.

I would furthermore like to be perfectly clear on two points.

  1. There is no pharmaceutical conspiracy. None. At all. If a substance has any kind of theraputic benefits, even of the slightest magnitude, a drug company can and will make money selling it, patent or no patent. It's just that, due to certain federal regulations, they're not allowed to be as brazenly untruthful in their advertising and labeling as "natural" medicine vendors are.
  2. "Natural" medicine is distinguished from regular medicine in precisely one way. "Natural" medicines, unlike regular, FDA-approved drugs, have shown no actual theraputic benefits when studied with standard experimental methods. AMA/FDA approved treatments must meet somewhat more stringent requirements, such as actually providing some of the benefits they claim (i.e. outperforming placebos) , not having any overriding short- or long-term adverse effects, and so forth.

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