The idea that alternative medicines remain alternative simply because none of them have outperformed placebos is simply, as a blanket statement, false. True, some of alternative therapies have been more-or-less totally debunked; "Healing Touch" and Bach Flower Remedies come to mind. Some, perhaps most, remain in a sort of scientific gray area, either because no conclusively well-designed studies have been done on their efficacy, or because the results of those studies have so far been contradictory. Some, most notably chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage, have been backed up with as much thirty or forty years worth of evidence and scientific study which says that for some conditions, they are in fact very effective.

The whole idea of a lump category of alternative medicine as a catch-all for everything health related that doesn't involve a guy with an M.D. poking you in odd places and making notes on a graph is fairly spurious. The fact that we're willing to lump every form of vaguely non-traditional and non-technological health therapy in the category of "alternative" is really more of a statement about our biases as a culture than the state of the scientific art.

The whole idea that all forms of healing must, all other virtues or faults regardless, be administered by a representative of a certain prestigious elite, is as irrational, and in a certain fundamental way, as dangerous, as buying into the whole line of crystal-waving hokum.