Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Britons turning to alternative cures
Herbal medicine was the most popular therapy
The number of people using complementary and alternative medicines has doubled over the past six years, according to a survey carried out for the BBC.
The poll of 1,200 people found that one in five Britons were now opting for such therapies, spending almost £15 a month on average.
The results showed that 21% have used a complementary medicine or therapy in the last year - double the number found to be using them in a similar survey six years ago.
The majority of people said the main reason they used alternative medicine was because it worked for them, but other reasons given included that it was relaxing and that it helped prevent illness.
Choosing an alternative
One in 10 people were referred to an alternative therapist by their doctor, but an equal number referred themselves because they said they did not believe in conventional medicine.
Many mainstream doctors remain sceptical about alternative health treatments - especially the more unusual - 1% of the survey had used crystal therapy with flotation tanks, kinesiology and magnetic therapy among the others tried.
People taking part in the poll spent on average £13.60 a month on alternatives and those aged beteen 18 and 24 spent an average £18.60 - totalling £223 a year.
The most popular therapies among those who used them were: