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Saturday, 8 February, 2003, 15:43 GMT
Alternative medicine
Research conducted by the BBC has shown that alternative medicines are becoming increasingly popular. Yet their effectiveness is yet to be proven to the majority of medical practitioners in the UK and there are concerns over safety as many of the treatments remain untested. BBC News Online's health team examines the issues.

What is it?
Not all practitioners agree on what constitutes alternative - some deny there is anything "alternative" about practices that predate many modern treatments.

Popular remedies: A guide
From acupuncture to yoga, all you need to know about the most commonly used therapies.

The quest for evidence
Many doctors dismiss alternative medicine as unproven, ineffective and potentially dangerous nonsense - leading advocates to seek the kind of evidence that will persuade the scientific community at large.

The alternative set
Who uses it, and where do they get it? More and more NHS practitioners are offering alternative therapies to their patients to cater to the growing demand.

Your views
Talking Point invited opinions on the reliability and use of alternative and complementary medicines - read what BBC News Online users thought.

Media choice
BBC Radio Five 5 Live's health reporters Sharon Alcock and Fiona Plant have prepared a series of special reports and interviews examining the pros and cons of alternative medicine - click on a link to listen.

    The growing appeal of alternatives
    Sharon Alcock reports on a BBC-commissioned survey that shows use of alternative medicine has doubled in the UK.

    Enjoying the difference
    Fiona Plant meets patients at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital - a leading centre for complementary treatments that only offers treatment on the NHS.

    A very peculiar practice
    Sharon Alcock explores the Hale Clinic in London - where you can see anyone from an osteopath to a Qi Gong therapist.

    The spiritual touch
    Ever since it emerged that England football coach Glenn Hoddle had taken up with a spiritual healer, the practice has had a high profile - Fiona Plant looks at how it works.

    The sceptic versus the believer
    Southampton GP Dr Peter May and Jayne Goddard, president of the Complementary Medicine Association, engage in heated debate on the use of alternative therapies.

    A note of caution
    Claire Rayner of the Doctor Patient Partnership is sceptical, and says patients should tread carefully if they are looking for alternative treatment.

    Keeping an open mind
    Clara McKaye of the Consumers Association says alternatives have a lot to offer.

    Protecting the public
    Dr Jonathan Monckton, director of the UK Research Council for Complementary Medicine, says why greater regulation of alternative practitioners will be needed in the future.

    A look to the future
    Professor John Stein from Oxford sees more research and more accountability as the way forward for alternative medicine.

See also:

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