Alternative medicine: how to discern a charlatan


Acupuncturist, hypnotherapistreiki practitioner, osteopath, naturopath, sophrologist…these wellness professions are considered care practices say unconventional (PSNC). This soft or alternative medicine is not not recognized by conventional medicine and is not taught during the initial training of health professionals. It is no less popular with the French who are 4 out of 10 use it.

The therapist should not promise a cure

The therapist does not have to assure you of a cure and all the more so in the case of serious illnesses or illnesses deemed incurable. “We have to be careful of practitioners who position themselves as doctors and that promise results », explains Magali Thierry-Verdier, Reiki practitioner in Le Mans.

The therapist should not interfere with your treatment

The therapist does should not encourage you to stop medical monitoring or other treatment. This alternative therapy should only be carried out as a complement and not in place of or to the detriment of other medical follow-up. “Under no circumstances can a practice replace medical treatment already prescribed, or a follow-up visit to their attending physician “, specifies the Medoucine website, specialist in the selection of trusted therapists in this field.

Your therapist must be well trained

Yes alternative medicine practices are not validated by a State diploma, each specialty has its control and training bodies. Associations of practitioners generally have directories of recognized specialiststhat it is easy to consult.

The practice of alternative medicine is often short

Beware of therapists who impose a large number of sessions and that wish to create a certain dependence. Alternative medicines usually work with a small number of sessions. “You have to be careful with practitioners who impose a certain number of sessions. The person who comes must feel the need or not to come for treatment. The practitioner is there to advise and not to make decisions for him “, emphasizes Magali Thierry-Verdier. Also beware of therapists who push you consumption of superfluous products (equipment, complements or even protective objects).

The therapist must be able to explain to you what he is doing

The disciplines of alternative medicine are often little known to the general public. It is therefore important that the practitioner explains what the sessions involve but also what his practice consists of. ” A therapist who remains vague should alert you. This may betray a lack of training, or the desire to hide elements. Do not hesitate to ask questions during the consultations, and to challenge the practitioner if you have the slightest doubt about its practices”, specifies the Medoucine website.

Offenses revealed by the DGCCRF

The Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) checked 675 practitioners in 2018 and among them two-thirds had at least one breach. The most common were information failures, but also in some cases deceptive marketing practices (therapeutic or “health” claims, not substantiated by professionals, qualifications put forward likely to mislead or not substantiated) even presenting risks to patients (because they can lead to a “loss of chance” linked to the patients’ non-use of medical care).

In case of suspicion of fraudulent act, you can contact the DGCCRF or consumer associations. If there is a risk of sectarian aberration, you can contact the Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Aberrations (Miviludes).

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