There's a fantastic article in this weekend's Financial Times Magazine, and it includes Professor David Colquhoun's wonderful glossary of magical medicine (ie, complementary and alternative medicine).
David Colquhoun has kindly given me permission to republish the glossary here, and indeed I understand he is happy for it to be circulated as widely as possible.
Giving patients medicines that contain no medicine whatsoever.
Giving patients an unknown dose of an ill-defined drug, of unknown effectiveness and unknown safety.
A rather theatrical placebo, with no real therapeutic benefit in most, if not all, cases.
An invention of a 19th-century salesman, based on nonsensical principles: shown to be no more effective than other manipulative therapies, but less safe.
Plain old foot massage, overlaid with utter nonsense about non-existent connections between your feet and your thyroid gland.
Self-styled “nutritionists” making untrue claims about diet in order to sell you unnecessary supplements.
Tea and sympathy, accompanied by arm-waving.
The same but with added “angels, ascended masters and galactic healers”. Excellent for advanced fantasists.
A rectal obsession that fails to rid you of toxins which you didn’t have in the first place.
Invention of the mystic barmpot, Rudolf Steiner, for whom nothing whatsoever seems to strain credulity.
Alternative Diagnosis: Kinesiology, Iridology, Vega Test, etc:
Various forms of fraud, designed to sell you cures that don’t work, for problems you haven’t got.
Any Alternative “Therapist” Who Claims To Cure Aids Or Malaria
An agent of culpable homicide.
To which David Colquhoun has now added (improving greatly on my original suggestion):
A very expensive remedy, to be used only when you have no evidence. Appeals to alternative practitioners because truth is irrelevant.