By the Way ... Don't Scoff at Alternative Medicine

Article excerpt

IN THE Good Health pages last week a number of GPs revealed how they also practised alternative medicine, from homeopathy to naturopathy, and used this on their patients.

This prompted much debate, for it apparently goes against the tide of medical opinion. For instance, the British Medical Association and the Commons Science and Technology Committee have said that the NHS should stop funding treatment by homeopathy: cutbacks are essential across the board and so money should not be poured into treatments for which there is no clear evidence of benefit.

Many regard homeopathy, which uses substances diluted many times in water to treat patients, as bogus. However, many GPs are members of the Faculty of Homeopathy and find it of value in some patients, on some occasions, for some types of conditions. In fact, the doctors featured last week are not an isolated group -- many GPs regularly use treatments such as osteopathy, massage, homeopathy and reflexology.

This is because all of us see conditions every day -- take irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia as examples -- where conventional medicine does not have much to offer.

The sceptics say the GP is doing little more than harnessing the placebo effect (placebo: Latin for 'I will please') and there has been much science applied to researching this. …