Alternative therapies: Health care, bioethics and the law

Alberto Campos, Fernando Cano Valle


'Alternative therapies' are those treatments used in place of conventional medical treatments or procedures. By opposing orthodox vs. 'alternative', 'natural' has come to be laden with meaning of the absence of evil, of regeneration, synonymous with non-technological, not drug-based, non-invasive, non-hostile. We discuss the attention directed to products supplied to a market of 'alternative therapies', some of which border illegality because of lack of adequate scientific controls to assure they are innocuous and because of lack of adequate legal controls to prevent 'therapeutic' fraud.

We are concerned about vulnerability because 'alternative therapies' can subject individuals to exploitation by becoming an undue profit and inducing an uncritical illusion of risk-free remedies against disease. They can seriously harm well-intentioned people, who seek through them a way to strive in an environment perceived as threatened by science and technology. The law has to come into play when legitimate spiritual beliefs are exploited by 'alternative therapies'. It is important not to place medical research in the same plane of perspectivism in which 'alternative therapies' operate. Finally more trials have to be conducted by proponents of 'alternative therapies' if adequate evidence of their benefits is to be demonstrated.


alternative therapies; bioethics; healing; health care; law

Full Text:


Copyright (c) 2011 Alberto Campos, Fernando Cano Valle

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Amsterdam Law Forum - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.