Alternative or complementary medicine is a large field, with numerous subdirections. The usage of alternative medicine in the general population is of a considerably great size. With this on mind, it is important to have scientific knowledge about the effect of the main groups of alternative medicine.
In this assignment I look at the predictet effect of alternative medicine in the setting of upper respiratory infection(URI). The prioritated directions in this assignment are Echinacea, homeopathy, acupuncture and vitamin C. There have been done a farely large amount of work in determining wheter these therapies have a real effect on URI.
All of the therapies shows (at least in some of the studies) some effect on the URI. The effect lies mainly in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms, when given as therapy. The results of profylaxis are much weaker, and are seldom significant.
The weaknesses of the studies are largly due to weak studydesigns. The quality of the studies are often much weaker than one require in Western medicine.
This could be explained by the differences in the view of the importance of RCT opposed to year long tradition and experiences.
Another problem in working with this subject, is that some of the alternative directions requires a totally different view of models of explanation for a action mechanism. This is clearly the case of acupuncture and homeopathy.
However, the promising results, the burden the URIs puts on society and the weak therapeutic alternatives in the Western medicine, points out that this field have to be further explored.