IN THE MIDDLE AGES PEOPLE TOOK POTIONS FOR THEIR ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today's shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead.

If people like their placebos, that's their business, you say. Well, not quite. Once, if you took shark cartilage for your cancer, it was your business. It is now becoming public business. As of Jan. 1, it is illegal in Washington State for health-insurance companies to deny payment for licensed "natural" health care. Blue Cross will be picking up your massage and herbal doctor...

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