So what role should the government play in regulating alternative medicine? 

If they license alternative health care providers, is this legitimizing fraud?  Does it give people the impression they're getting real treatment?

Some people use alternative providers as a substitute for a family doctor - but I shudder to think of such a person in a first-line treatment role, trying to figure out what's serious and when someone needs to be referred to a specialist. 

One of my neighbors is an acupuncturist who wrote a book "Before Pharmaceuticals" promoting acupuncture and herbal medicine - and I shudder to think of someone, who might have cancer - how does he know - coming to him and spending time trying his treatments first - when time might be precious to stop the cancer - and all to avoid the wicked pharmaceuticals!

Where does a person's right to choose what's done to their body, come into it? 

Certainly the alternative providers need to be regulated to prevent their actively harming people, for example acupuncturists need to use sterile needles to avoid causing infections.  But beyond that - does it legitimize a lot of BS, to license acupuncturists, say?  What does it mean, to do acupuncture or homeopathy properly? 

Alternative providers do help some people.  Perhaps the best of alt-med is in recommending sensible empirical treatments based on accurate clinical observation that suggests they may work, for example suggesting a trial of a gluten-free diet for someone with anxiety or joint pain.  And some herbs might really do what they're supposed to do.  But the helpful interventions are mixed with a lot of nonhelpful stuff. 

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