In this week's Scrubbing Up health column, Dr Michael Dixon responds to Professor Edzard Ernst's recent column on integrated medicine and says patients should be able to choose what works for them.
What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing up.
Three cheers for Dr Dixon! My family and I have happily lived the last 50 years of our lives using a mixture of complementary, mostly homoeopathy, and orthodox medicine and only wish that all doctors shared his views. I am chairman of a local homoeopathic support group that is campaigning for the right to keep open a local NHS homeopathic clinic, that is run by fully qualified medical practitioners, and has run for the past 14 years to the benefit of many patients. There should be more NHS clinics like this - not less!
Cynthia Burton, Chislehurst
Of course people should be free to do what they want to their own body. The issue for many is the NHS funding treatments that have no greater effect than the placebo effect, when money could be spent on real medicine. The other danger is exemplified by the seven-year-old boy who was being treated for cancer with vitamin C pills and consequently died, his parents had withdrawn him from conventional treatment in preference of a quack.
Greg, London, UK
Let us put all treatments through the same rigour and use the ones that work, then there is just effective treatments and non of this alternative / complementary / integrated nonsense which is purely a smokescreen for magical thinking e.g. homeopathy. Either a treatment works or it does not, then we can decide between real treatment and placebos or a combination of both but lets be honest about it.
David Hawkins, Carmarthen
The NHS should only fund treatments that are tested and found to be better than placebo. Most complimentary medicines that have been tested do not meet the grade. Stick with the science, not the mystic woo.
Oliver Kenton, Manchester
"Complementary medicine" is a misnomer. There is simply medicine that works and medicine that doesn't. If there is evidence that the Alexander Technique is effective, then there is nothing "complementary" about it, it's just medicine. Science doesn't always know best, but reality does, and we can only discover the reality of what works and what doesn't by testing it.
I used to consider alternative medicine as all 'mumbo jumbo', but having reluctantly tried it for a chronic illness I have been astounded by its effectiveness. It is not an instant cure, but it is safe and long lasting. I believe clinicians who claim complementary medicine doesn't work either haven't tried it and/or feel threatened by something they don't understand.
Most competent complementary or alternative therapists are aware of and appreciate the value of conventional medicine, and don't overstate the efficacy of the treatments they offer. In my experience they advise their clients always to keep their doctors informed of any alternative therapies they may be considering, and of any benefits they might be noticing in their condition.
Stephen Dale, London
I am a colon hydrotherapist as well as an associate registered nutritionist. I make a clear distinction that alternative and complementary medicine is just that - an alternative or complement to existing medical treatment. Many of my colonic clients have been through numerous hospital checks and take counter-intuitive medication for chronic constipation. This can be relieved through colonic irrigation, and anecdotal evidence points to a distinct improvement in quality of life - a measure that patients do not take for granted.
Emma Lynn, Grimsby
I have rheumatoid arthritis, and have had no prescribed medicine for it besides painkillers. Yet I'm better now than when I was diagnosed. How? Reiki. I'm not cured, I still have flare-ups, my hands are still deformed and I still have pain. But the progression has been stopped for the past four years now. I really don't see how medical "science" can ignore patient experiences. Perhaps if we were paying for our treatment, the doctors would listen more.
This integrated approach is one which I have advocated and practiced throughout a major illness. I have been continually frustrated by a system which does not acknowledge the fact that an integrated approach benefits all both in terms of patients wellbeing and expense.
Miss F D Crossland, Merseyside
Definitely the patient should have complimentary treatment if that is his or her wish. Often an advantage of some complimentary therapies, is the time taken over the patient, listening, talking, and generally considering the whole person, which is not available with standard medicine, where drugs are frequently the first form of treatment.
Valerie Lermon, UK