What alternative health

practitioners might not tell you



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“If a patient consults an herbalist in the UK or anywhere else he/she will, in all likelihood, not be treated according to the principles of ‘rational herbal medicine’, i.e. with one evidence-based herbal medicine that has been demonstrated to be efficacious for her condition. Instead, treatment will be individualised and concocted according to diagnostic criteria unknown or obsolete in conventional medicine. Thus 10 patients with the identical mainstream diagnosis might receive 10 different mixtures of herbs, none of which is evidence-based. This is true for traditional herbalisms of all kinds, e.g. Chinese, Indian or European. Some claim that this type of individualised approach cannot be tested in clinical trials, but this notion can easily be shown to be wrong: several, albeit not many such studies testing individualised herbalism have been published. To the dismay of traditional herbalists, their results fail to confirm that such treatments are effective for any condition…As this type of therapy employs a multitude of ingredients, the danger of adverse-effects and herb-drug interactions might be considerable. It seems to follow, that the risks of individualised herbalism do not outweigh its benefits…Yet, I fear, that neither the public nor the regulators, who are about to regulate this sector in the UK, are aware how poor the evidence for the most commonly used type of herbalism truly is.” Professor Edzard Ernst, emeritus Professor of Complementary Medicine, Pulse (27th June 2012)