It used to be easy. We had traditional medicine and quackery. Now we discover that there are legitimate sources of help outside of traditional medicine and quackery and ignorance within accepted medical practices. So what to do?
The worst thing is that nobody can tell you what to do, even me. However, these are the guidelines that I personally use. Firstly I look at things with an open mind but treat all information with a healthy skepticism.
There are things that work that make no scientific sense. I remember think that homeopathic medicine makes no sense. If you dilute something until not one molecule of the original substance is left and then let it all evaporate what is it that you are taking? This on the way to Australia we stopped in Auckland and bought some No-Jet-Lag pills (ironically developed in New Zealand) and they worked. While I do not believe in the " Law of Opposites" my mind is open to the fact that there may be something to homeopathic medicine.
I know that most of what I do can not be explained by science but I have seen almost miraculous results.
Remember the profit motive. Drug companies are in the business to make money. They hope you will buy the drug because it benefits for most people are better than the side effects. Doctors get their information from the drug companies. Likewise if an herb has no side effects does it have any effects? Does the person hide the "facts" behind the cure until you buy the product. Does the supplement claim to be better yet does not reveal its contents or support its claims. Yet people will pay $40 dollars for juice that costs a few dollars at the grocery store especially when the store juice rates the effectiveness of the juice and the expensive bottle does not.
What I have discovered is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Likewise I run from anything that cures anything or everybody. I am cautious of any claims that sound scientific but are not really scientifically proven. I not only use but practice techniques that cannot be logically explained. This does not mean that they are not effective but that they are not based in left-brained reasoning. In this case, I insist that if they don't work that at least they cause no harm. What is harm? It can also be failing to get proper treatment or spending large amounts of cash into something that produces no results.
Look at the source of information. For example, The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM covers a number of alternative practices but from a scientific (traditional) perspective. If the practices claim to be based on Western science then their reviews may hold but like Eastern Medicine understand that while they may sound open to non-traditional ideas they are employing the wrong evaluation techniques.
If you want to see real bias the try QuackWatch and understand that Dr. Barrett has a fanatic almost religious hatred of alternative medicine. He calls just about everything that is not part of traditional medicine quackery. I am sure that he would label me a quack as well. It is ironic in that he sometimes explains some practices better than the proponents do. While you might not trust his conclusions, he brings up issues. Also note that he has been involved in numerous suits but from what I have seen regardless of the disposition of the suit they seem to neither prove or disprove the legitimacy of the practice.
I have found that too often people feel they need to provide a scientific explanation even if there is none. This pseudoscience neither proves nor disproves the effectiveness of any treatment. I trust people more if that are open about the fact that they cannot explain what they do scientifically.
If there is something that can truly be shown to be effective with good science but not generally practiced there is probably a reason to stay away from it. Especially beware of people who use a special machine to test you and another special machine to cure you. It smells like snake oil. If it were really effective you would see others either licensing the patent or providing alternative solutions that are different enough not to infringe on the patent.
Beware of cancer cures. I have had friends who have died because they used alternative methods and forsake traditional treatment. If the cure is effective as claimed the world would be beating a path to their door and everyone would be using their methods.
On the other hand sometimes it is worth trying new things. For example, often I can relieve carpal tunnel syndrome by getting the bones in the wrist to move and letting the tendons in the wrist reform the tunnel taking pressure off the median nerve. It is like the surgery, except it puts the wrist back to the way it was designed to work with less impact on the body. It does not always work but then the surgery does not either.
Be aware that people practicing in the State of California must have a state license such as a doctor, chiropractor, a doctor of osteopathy or doctor of naturopathy or provide a disclosure. The disclosure should outline what they do, how it works and their training. This could apply to practitioners of: nutrition; acupressure; aroma therapy; ayurveda; cranial sacral therapy; culturally traditional healing practices; detoxification practices and therapies; energetic healing; polarity therapy; folk practices; healing touch; herbology or herbalism; homeopathy; iridology; body work and massage therapy; meditation; mind-body healing practices; yoga teachers; and unlicensed traditional Oriental practices, such as Qi Gong energy healing or doctors practicing alternative medicine.
Legitimate alternative practitioners should provide disclosures if they provide services claiming to heal you or improve your health. If not then they are either ignorant of the law or intentionally skirting it. In either case they are not being professional.
Likewise if a person is using non-legitimate claims like using a doctorate in English Literature to promote their medical knowledge then beware.
Check it out from multiple sources especially for and against. Know the downsides. The best source of advise is from someone who is both knowledgeable and has nothing to gain or lose if you choose to try the alternative. I believe that a sign of a real expert is that they have a good idea of what they do not know.
Because I work with people, results will vary and if I believe that you should get help form someone else or that I cannot help you I will tell you. I feel that part of what I do for clients is be aware of alternatives that I don't offer or have any financial ties.