Doctor: While a few alternative medicines have dangerous side effects, some, such as many herbs, have been proven sa...

tomgbean on October 9, 2019

Answer A

Answer choice A says that there are more effective traditional medicines that are not being prescribed because of herbal medicine being prescribed. Even though traditional medicine may be more effective, the passage does not say all herbal medicine is ineffective. So if patients are deriving some benefits from herbal medicine (whether it be due to a placebo effect), is A not disqualified? We were looking for an answer choice that would show herbal medicine causes harm and even though traditional medicine may be more effective, it does not mean herbal medicine would cause harm necessarily.

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SamA on October 10, 2019

Hey @tomgbean,

I understand your question, and I think we should discuss how "harm" is used in this passage.

We know from the passage that some herbal remedies are safe to consume. They are not toxic, and they may help a bit, through the placebo effect or otherwise. In that sense, they are not harmful.

However, the question asks us to show how these seemingly safe remedies could still be harmful. Answer choice A demonstrates how this is possible. The key term here is "more effective." If a doctor fails to prescribe a more effective medication in favor of an herbal remedy, then the patient is not being given the best treatment.

Imagine that a sick person was given an herbal remedy that extended his life by a year. This seems beneficial, but what if it prevented him from receiving conventional medicine which would have kept him alive for ten more years? This is an example of herbal remedies causing harm, because this hypothetical man could have lived much longer without them. They do not have to be toxic in order to be harmful.