Intended for healthcare professionals

Dealing With Pain

Time for a fresh look at complementary medicine

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 12 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1322
  1. Edward Baldwin, member of House of Lords1
  1. 1 London SW1A 0PW

    Lord Baldwin—Who chaired the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board 1990-9, was joint chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1992-2002, and served on the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into complementary and alternative medicine in 2000—asks that both complementary and conventional practitioners keep an open mind

    Scientific rigour does not always go with complementary and alternative medicine, where assumptions often go unchallenged. But the need for rigour is sometimes as evident on the conventional side as on the unconventional. Having been a serious user of complementary and alternative medicine for nearly 20 years, and finding myself more recently in positions where I have tried to draw attention to some of the remarkable things that seem to be happening in the field, I want to emphasise the need for clear thinking if we are to discover what works, to what extent, and for whom. Evidence (however you choose to define it) is crucial; but it needs to be based on solid foundations.

    My first experience of the unusual was 35 years ago. Having damaged my knees through too vigorous an outing in the British hills, I was sent to see specialists, culminating in two eminent gentlemen in Harley Street. They prescribed varying forms of treatment and did me no good …

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