Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Assaulting alternative medicine

Stop digging: CAM modalities have been tested and found wanting

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 06 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1630
  1. Paul Morgan, consultant intensivist1
  1. 1Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff, UK
  1. Paul{at}

For far too long the pseudoscience behind so called complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been lent false authority by the teaching of such nonsense in academic institutions.1 The failure to find evidence of benefit for CAM modalities such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic, despite many years of research and the attention of organisations such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US and the unit at the University of Exeter formerly headed by Professor Edzard Ernst, surely brings into serious doubt the continued pursuit of government funded research in such areas. As a taxpayer, I certainly do not want to see any of my taxes wasted on it. The case for most alternative medicines and treatments has gone beyond unproved: they have been disproved.

Any further government funded research should take place only in academic departments where the research can be conducted to the most rigorous scientific standards to minimise the wriggle room that has been the end result of so much CAM research to date. Furthermore, the widespread teaching of subjects in government recognised institutions of further and higher education should be halted. A limited teaching to people with an appropriate scientific background is as far as it should go in the expectation that they will continue to pursue research into areas of uncertainty. Degrees and other registrable qualifications in CAM modalities should end immediately because scientifically they are not worth the paper they’re written on.

Tim Minchin’s “Storm” provides a useful, if profane, summary of CAM.2


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1630


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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