Intended for healthcare professionals


Enhancing human healing

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 20 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:120

Directly studying human healing could help to create a unifying focus in medicine

  1. David Reilly, consultant physician
  1. Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, Glasgow G12 0XQ

    All therapeutic avenues meet at life's innate healing or destructive processes. So direct study of human healing might serve as a unifying focus, bridging disparate worlds of care—a truly integrated medicine. In recent decades orthodox medicine's successful focus on specific disease interventions has meant relative neglect of self healing and holism, and from this shadow complementary medicine has emerged, with its counterpointing biases. The gap between them is, however, narrowing with the emerging view, backed by the study of placebo and psychoneuroimmunology,1 that to ignore whole person factors is unscientific and less successful.

    Almost 20 years ago young doctors' interest in complementary medicine surfaced,2 presaging major changes in Western medicine that seemed unimaginable at the time. For example, acupuncture is now used in most chronic pain services,3 and about 20% of Scottish general practitioners have basic training in homoeopathy.4 But is integration just bolting on the scientifically proved bits of complementary medicine to the “leaning Tower of Pisa” of orthodoxy?5 To stop there …

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