Killing the goose that laid the golden egg?

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 12 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1280

Complementary and alternative medicine might best be kept separate from conventional treatments

  1. Angela Coulter (, chief executive
  1. Picker Institute Europe, Oxford OX1 1RX

    Sales of herbal, homoeopathic, and other complementary remedies are growing fast, and increasing numbers of people are visiting complementary practitioners.1 The international market for complementary and alternative medicine is now worth a considerable amount of money—an estimated $21.2bn in the United States in 1997, more than half of which was paid directly by patients,2 and £450m in Britain in 1998, with 90% purchased privately.3

    Two articles in this issue illustrate the suspicion of complementary medicine that still exists among many medical practitioners and the potential for integrating complementary and orthodox treatments.4 5 Complementary medicine is marginalised in the healthcare systems of many countries, but calls for a more integrated approach are growing louder and seem to be having an effect.68 Hostility to complementary medicine among doctors is starting to erode. Basic courses in various complementary therapies are now available in many medical schools in Britain9 and the United States,10 albeit on an optional basis. Some doctors go on to do more advanced training, enabling them to …

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