BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 20 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:131

One in 10 people in Britain consults a practitioner of complementary medicine each year, says a recent survey by the Research Council for Complementary Medicine. Of the 160 different treatments counted by the council, however, just six account for three quarters of those used. The most popular branches are acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, homoeopathy, herbal medicine, and hypnotherapy.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts showed that £1m ($1.5m) of public money was spent on purchasing complementary treatments in 1993. This figure is a gross underestimate by the association's own admission, reflecting less than half of health districts and counting only formal contractual arrangements. In reality much complementary medicine is practised by general practitioners and practice nurses …

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