If there are alternative medicines and natural treatments that really work, why don't we hear more about them? I don't think there are many true conspiracies around, but this is one of those areas that makes me wonder. The movement between government posts and positions in the pharmaceutical corporations is well documented. This easy movement between the boardrooms and the FDA and other agencies certainly leaves room for abuse and "back door agreements."
More often than not, though, there is just a conspiracy-of-common-interest that prevents safe alternative medicines from coming to market, or from becoming widely known. For example, drug companies don't want the competition of safe alternatives to their drugs. Meanwhile, it is politically safer for the FDA to not allow a product, because if they approve something and it causes any problems, they get the blame. This is a convenient coinciding of interests.
Also, natural products, like silymarin (Milk Thistle Extract), which is used all over Europe to treat poisonings and to protect the liver, are legal here, but not well known. This is because, as a natural product, there is no way to patent it. Without being able to exclude others from selling it, no company can afford to spend the millions it would take to get it approved as a medicine here.
A natural product also can't be marketed heavily. Imagine if a large company spent millions to promote a medicinal herb. As soon as they got the public's attention, all the smaller companies could undercut them on the price, since they spent nothing on marketing, and a plant product is usually the same no matter what the name on the label. No company wants to spend big money on a product they don't have an exclusive right too.
When a plant isn't approved as a natural treatment, there are no pharmaceutical reps out there educating doctors about it (Didn't you know that's how doctors keep educated?). In addition, even if a doctor has read about a useful plant, he is more likely to face a malpractice suit for an allergic reaction to an alternative medicine than from killing someone with a "standard and accepted" treatment. Which do you think he'll recommend?
Companies face the same issues of liability. In addition, the companies are limited in what they can say about these natural products. This is why you can look all over the box that some plant medicines come in, and never once see a mention of what it is for. It is tough to learn about these natural treatments, isn't it?
In other words, if you want to know about alternative medicines and medical treatment, you have to look outside the mainstream for your information. You have to read the magazines that cover these alternatives, and sometimes, when it is safe, you have to even experiment a little on yourself.
As for my own approach, I like to see that there is actually some real research that demonstrates a benefit. Anecdotal evidence doesn't mean much. People get better all the time, and credit whatever they happened to be using at the time. On the other hand, if it is inexpensive and safe, like eating blueberries to improve vision, I'll try almost anything once.
Do natural treatments work? Sometimes. I have twice removed skin growths from my face that may have even been pre-cancerous. They were there for many years, yet it took just weeks to make them disappear using a simple and cheap natural product. I have also witnessed the fastest healing of a cut (on my foot) that I've ever seen, after applying a common plant to it. Some alternative medicines really do work.