Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Put the Lyme in the Quackonut

By Peter Bowditch

There is little evidence that chiropractors are willing to reform their practices.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A few years ago the British Medical Journal conducted a reader poll to find the 15 most important advances, discoveries or breakthroughs in medicine since the magazine was founded in 1840. Here’s the list: anaesthesia, antibiotics, the antipsychotic medication chlorpromazine, computer use, the discovery of DNA’s structure, evidence-based medicine, germ theory, imaging, immunology, oral rehydration therapy, the contraceptive pill, risks of smoking, sanitation, tissue culture. and vaccines.

Alternative medicine supporters were horrified at the list. Not only did it contradict much quackery by including germ theory and antibiotics, admit to the reality of mental illness by including the first antipsychotic drug, highlight the value of evidence and recognise the value of vaccines, but one of altmed’s most demonised villains, Louis Pasteur, was associated with two advances listed.

The best thing that supporters of alternatives to medicine came up with for advances in the past century-and-a-half was chiropractic. While chiropractic has been demonstrated to have some benefit for the treatment of lower back pain, its efficacy seems to be no different to taking a couple of ibuprofen tablets or simply resting in bed without any medication. In layman’s terms, this means that, for that condition anyway, chiropractic is an expensive theatrical placebo.

There has...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.