Essential Oils And Other Holistic Bullshit


I said “in general”. Your anecdote doesn’t change that. Of course there are doctors that do. There are many that don’t. Likewise, many physicians tend to think of the body in terms of individual parts, not as a whole. He sounds like a great doctor. Not all of them are so thoughtful.

Let me put it this way: I think posture considerations should be on the front lines of what a gp should consider when first meeting a new patient, along with weight, blood pressure, activity level, cholesterol and other basic factors.

It was a massage therapist who warned me years ago my posture was terrible and I was headed for trouble, not the physical therapist or the orthopedic surgeon. If only I had listened at the time.


I once answered in a jury examination that I didn’t think chiropractors were real doctors and that they could treat you but couldn’t diagnose you (which might not be accurate, but I’m not a doctor so whatever). It was a civil case where the plaintiff got some neck injuries after being rear - ended (so reading between the lines, it likely hinged entirely on a chiropractor’s analysis). I was the first one dismissed.


I know two things about chiropractors.

An ex of mine went to a chiro for back pain and he fucked up her hip and lower back so badly that she needed surgery.

YMMV of course.


Yeah, like cure asthma!

(A chiropractor actually cured my asthma 30 years ago.)


I have a good friend who is a chiropractor (and her dad was too) and they whole family refuses vaccines. Dumb.


Chiropracty is the belief that cracking your knuckles is medicine.


Goddammit please not another 50 fuckin posts on this again


Show me on the doll where the Chiropractor refused your vaccinations


I don’t care what people do to feel better. Acupuncture is a great example of alternative medicine that works, but has 0 scientific evidence of proof of how it works. It may be the greatest example of the placebo effect ever, or maybe there is something more to it? But, if it works for you, great.

It is the same with any holistic treatments. If it works for you fine, go to a chiropractor. If you feel better it doesn’t matter how you got there right? Especially with chronic pain issues where the other options are costly surgery or dangerous pain medication. If it works, it works.

But also, just because it worked for you, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone, so evangelizing these treatments is a bad idea.


The problem with that attitude is that a fair amount of this stuff is potentially quite dangerous, or at best maybe feels better but isn’t actually addressing the underlying problem while it gets worse.

Obviously that’s not always the case, but it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two.


Placebo effect doesn’t last for years, Jon. The rest of this isn’t directed specifically at you.

I think it’s a shame that some people on this board are so closed-minded. I’ve been to medical school. I chose not to finish, but that had everything to do with losing my desire to be an academic, not any academic inability. Should you be skeptical? Of course you should. I certainly was. But the fact that you didn’t grow up with a certain thing as part of your life or culture doesn’t automatically make it bullshit.

Eh, you know what, this is pointless. I don’t care what people think. And they don’t care that a couple of years ago I thought my life was over because of Tinnitus. That I thought I’d never be able to work again or have a conversation with my family where I didn’t constantly want to rip someone’s head off. That I went to an ENT doc and he said “Too bad. Deal with it.”

There are things Western medicine sucks at, like pain management, for instance. I really hope that when you guys come up against a situation like this in your own lives, when you get told there’s nothing that can be done or that the only option is surgery (as with my hand 10 years ago) that you at least consider your options…that you find a really good physical therapist or massage therapist or (yes) chiropractor or some other medicine-adjacent person who knows their stuff and may be able to offer you some relief because they are willing to look outside the box of techniques that are Adam-approved.


I wouldn’t be so sure. The studies on placebo effects have been real eye opening. Even studies in which the participants have been informed that they are receiving a placebo have shown that the treatment works.

New research conducted by scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School shows cancer-related fatigue can be relieved by a placebo pill. This relief even occurs when patients are aware they are taking a placebo, known as open-label placebo.

Although chronic pain is very much real, and its location can be identified, sometimes the source of it is not physical in nature. High levels of stress, anxiety and a horrible crisis can trigger chronic pain. My mother headed up a chronic pain ward in the late 2000’s, and much of there work focused on people coming to terms with events or stress that seemed to cause the chronic pain, such as causing the death of a grandchild in one particular instance. In those instances, mental health = physical wellbeing.

Again, the limits of what the placebo can or cannot do are not always understood.


That’s really fascinating, thanks.


The Placebo effect is a wild thing though. One of those crazy unknown features of the human body. I mean, we are all walking pharmaceutical manufacturers, producing serotonin, insulin, etc as needed. There are a lot of questions around how altering our mental state, through alternative means, or through clinical placebo trials can have a profound effect on our well being.

This is my purely personal speculation, but I would suspect a lot of non traditional medical practices utilize this feature of our brains, to use our own body’s chemical manufacturing capability to fix ourselves. It is one of those things that is basically impossible to study scientifically, as there is no real pain scale, and can vary wildly from patient to patient.

Which is why I say, why not try the chiropractor or acupuncturist? It might work, it might make you feel better, and it doesn’t really matter if there is a scientific basis in the mechanics of that treatment working or not. As with acupuncture there are so many clinical studies showing it doesn’t work, but there are a large number of patients who have real documented pain relief from the treatments.

Which is again to say, you can’t use non traditional medicine in place of the required and understood medicines of western society. But, as a supplement to your treatment for pain management? If it feels better, it is working right? Isn’t that the point?

I had a doctor that taught us a class in college once, and he said that nearly 70% of all patient issues go undiagnosed, and often times end up going away without intervention. Our bodies are extremely complicated and weird, and even with all of the advances in western medicine, we still don’t have a grasp on what works and what doesn’t, especially in pain management.

So, if your doctor tells you to try acupuncture, I mean give it a shot I guess? I just wouldn’t go around thinking it is some miracle cure if it works for you. As long as it isn’t being used in place of actual medical care, but in supplementation of actual care, I don’t see a problem.


Great post. I started to mention before that there are drugs on the market today (anti-depressants for sure) that the mechanism of action isn’t known. Ideally we understand why things work, but that isn’t always the case.

I find it bizarre that some want to lump essential oils and homeopathy into the same category as something like chiropractic. Why does it seem so unreasonable that spinal misalignment could cause the body to malfunction?

And acupuncture, yeah, the thought of it freaks me right the hell out. Though I considered trying it for the tinnitus (actually, I tried, and in a twist of fate, the acupuncturist told me they didn’t think they could help me either). But treatment of muscle pain with electrical stimulation is generally accepted these days and application of electric stimulation to acupuncture points is quite good at relaxing muscles, if nothing else.


All I can offer is anecdata, but a family friend (though I haven’t seen him in years now) was a chiropractor and routinely used to pop my back and neck for me, and it felt great. Always loosened me right now.

Did it have any practical medical application or benefit? I have no idea, and certainly no proof either way. I just know it felt good.

On the other hand, I once actually tried a chiropractor for back pain, and basically he had me lie on a bed with my face in a hole at the end for an hour while he “measured” things with some contraption that looked like a string with a nail handing on the end to keep it taut. I never went back.


Taking pressure of a pinched or compressed nerve feels great.


From an empirical, scientific perspective, my understanding is that they are in the same category—largely unproven to have any effect greater than control.

As to them being different due to the greater “reasonableness” of chiropractry versus essential oils (and your analogy to drugs without 100% clear mechanisms of action) experimental support does not require knowledge (nor is it influenced by knowledge) of a mechanism of action.

Speculation/intuition/reasonableness all are important to science in that they lead to a hypothesis that is then scientifically tested. We don’t test anything and everything, so those concepts are key to experimental design. But beyond that, one being more reasonable or not doesn’t matter for testing the hypothesis. So, a drug can be tested and shown to be more effective than control, even if we don’t exactly why it works. Knowing why it works would help lead us to other drugs, but not knowing doesn’t undermine the scientific evidence of effectiveness.

It’s very possible that chiropractry hasn’t gotten a fair shake in terms of strong, scientific experiments. I don’t know. There is a significant difference between something not having been scientifically tested versus having been tested and found to be no better than control. But absent the potential lack of evidence in favor of one over the other, essential oils and chiropractry are the same and should be lumped together.


I went to a chiropractor because my left knee was hurting me. He said it was really just a case of it being worn out over the years, but he did do this thing which seemed to help me.

He had me hold out my left arm and told me to hold it in place while he pushed down, and I couldn’t and he pushed it down. Then he had me put this large very wide rubber-band thing on my left foot, and we repeated the arm thing. Somehow that rubber band thing strengthened my left arm and whole left side. I know, maybe he wasn’t pushing as hard, but it sure felt like he did.

Anyway, I wore that rubber-band thing for a month or so and my knee pain went away. That’s was just one visit.

The only other time I went it was a posture issue, and my GF told me to go so I did, reluctantly. I guess my insurance covered it because he tried to sign me up for twice-a-month sessions for an entire year. I never went back.


I’m not making any claims about your experience, and it seems to have worked for you, which is great, but this description is reminscent of a common scam around bracelets that “enhance strength”.

Relevant part:

In this test, the agent asks you to hold your arm horizontally straight in the air, while he/she tries to push it down as you fight to keep it up. In the first try (without the bracelet), the agent is successful, as you don’t have enough strength to oppose his/her push. Miraculously, once he/she puts the bracelet on your wrist and tries to push your arm down again, you can keep it up, as if your strength has increased tremendously! Wanna know the secret? See below.
When you don’t wear the bracelet, he pushes your forearm down by pressing closer to your wrist, which makes it easy to achieve the goal. When you wear the bracelet, he pushes on your elbow, which makes it almost impossible to get your arm down, since the elbow is closer to your gravity point.

It’s entirely possible that your gait was walking in such a way that you put pressure on your knee in a bad way, and the band on your foot somehow corrected it. I evangelize superfeet insoles because they really helped with my arch pain, even though I have no idea what mechanism they would work by. I could see how overcompensating for foot balance issues could affect the knees.