Alternative medicine conversation questions
- Why is alternative medicine called "alternative"?
- Do most people you know prefer traditional/alternative medicine, modern medicine, or a combination of the two? Which do you prefer?
- Have you tried any alternative medicines? What was the result?
- What are the types of alternative medicine that are available? Is it only herbs? What types of energy-based alternative medicines are there?
- Have you (or any of your friends and family) ever tried acupuncture or acupressure?
- What does your culture think about acupuncture, homeopathy, and naturopathy as alternative medicines?
- A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is a test whereby a compound is given to a patient but neither the patient nor the doctor knows if the compound is real or a placebo (a fake). This is supposed to mean that any change to the patient can only be the result of the compound, and is not influenced by the doctor's or patient's expectations. Alternative medicines sometimes do badly in such tests. Why do you think this might be? Do you think traditional medicines can do badly in double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials too?
- During a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, the real compound may cause side effects that the patient can feel. If the patient feels the side effects, do you think that the patient will now believe that they took the real compound and not the placebo and so the test is no longer valid?
- An "anecdote" is a report by a single researcher or a report by their organization. A "trial" is a test monitored by many researchers under controlled conditions and repeated with multiple patients. Many alternative medicine success stories are anecdotes. Why do you think this is?
- One of the apparent advantages of alternative medicine is that it is said to have no side effects. Why do you think this is?
- Are prescription medicines always good for you? How many do you know which have unpleasant side effects? Have you read of people dying because of taking prescription medicine the way the doctor told them to?
- People often maintain that alternative medicines are "natural". What does "natural" actually mean in this context?
- Is everything that is "natural" good for you? What about the enormous number of plants which are deadly poisons?
- What is your opinion on herbal medicines?
- What is your opinion on acupuncture?
- What is your opinion on homeopathy?
- What is your opinion on Tai Chi as practiced for your health?
- What is your opinion on faith healers and witch doctors? Are they both able to heal people and also curse them? In other words, can they have both a positive and a negative influence over a person?
- What do you think about the idea of alternative medicine being used in hospitals?
- What is your opinion of traditional Chinese medicine and its use of the bones of endangered animals such as tigers or bile extracted from live bears?
- There are, in fact, many types of alternative medicine including "colour therapy", "air therapy" and "fire therapy" - which use colour, air and fire as "treatments". What regulation do you think there should be over such therapies?
- Death conversation questions
- Drugs conversation questions
- Food conversation questions
- Health conversation questions
- Science fiction conversation questions
- Supernatural conversation questions
- New Scientist, The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body, 13 May 2009. Teachers may want to read up on the "nocebo effect" before the class.