Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters What to do about CAM?

Funding for CAM

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 08 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:951
  1. George T Lewith, reader in complementary medicine
  1. University of Southampton, Primary Medical Care, Aldermoor Health Centre, Southampton SO16 5ST
  1. gl3{at}

    Colquhoun presents an interesting point of view.1 In the United Kingdom, 0.0085% of the medical research budget is spent on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).2 CAM is widely available throughout the NHS via physiotherapy departments and pain clinics (acupuncture and mind body therapies) as well as forming an essential and effective element of palliative care within hospices (mind body therapies, reflexology, massage, and aromatherapy). Much of our current conventional pharmacopoeia is derived from herbals.

    Furthermore, 15-20% of the public in the UK access CAM each year in spite of the fact that they are “told not to”; as taxpayers surely they have a right to understand if what they are being offered is safe and effective. Can Colquhoun be seriously suggesting that no funding should be available for this mixture of therapies that we collectively define as complementary or integrative medicine? The history of the enlightenment would suggest this exclusive attitude may not be a sensible approach to the acquisition of knowledge.


    • Competing interests: None declared.