What alternative health

practitioners might not tell you



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Replies to Jane Cassidy’s 15th June 2011 observations in the British Medical Journal. (Replies published on 22nd June 2011.)

Professor Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School:  “Jane Cassidy mentions that the new 'College of Medicine' singles out projects for praise. I had a closer look at the initiatives which were listed on the College's website. The information indicates that these projects offer a wide range of treatments, including homeopathy, qigong, reflexology and aromatherapy which, according to an evidence-based assessment, must be categorized as unproven or even disproven. In one case, a therapeutic claim was made (homeopathy is useful for asthma and eczema) which is clearly not supported by evidence. Quackery can be defined as the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. Based on this definition, there can be little doubt, I think, that the new College is a college of quackery. “

Michael Baum, Professor emeritus of Surgery, University College London:  “The new College of Medicine promotes itself by claiming that modern medicine has lost its way and only they retain sufficient supply of the milk of human kindness to sustain the born again doctor of the future. Well if what Professor Ernst says is correct then the College of Medicine is in fact leading the way backwards to the dark ages of Galenic dogma and the new age doctor will be practising "new age" mumbo jumbo. A great leap forward into the past.”

James May, General Practitioner, London:  “Is it possible that the new college is being deliberately ambiguous about the term integrative health? I would be interested to meet any doctor who would not support the underlying 'philosophy of taking into account patients' beliefs and personal circumstances and helping patients look after their own health.' Of course this fundamental principle of good medicine needs nurturing and encouraging at every opportunity. The college, however, seems to interpret this 'philosophy' to mean the promotion of unproven complementary therapies. These are very different agendas and should not be confused. All good doctors should support the first and reject the second. If this college appears to be an attempt to smuggle in the second under the guise of the first then good doctors should be very wary indeed.”