On 21 May The Economist launched a poll with the question “is research into alternative medicine a waste of time? The accompanying article attempted to paint a rather negative picture of complementary and alternative medicine yet the response of ~ 8000 readers has been overwhelmingly in favour of carrying out research into alternative medicine. And quite right too. With 1 in 4 people in the EU turning regularly to complementary and alternative medicine to either complement their conventional treatment or use it as an alternative, it is important that further research is enabled in order to ensure the effectiveness and safety of such therapies in the interests of patients.
Patients instinctively respond to the holistic, patient centred approach of complementary and alternative medicine, which is gentle in its approach and with far less risk of adverse affects than conventional medicine. But belief is not enough and the reality of the successful day to day practice and use must be backed with good scientific research to establish how it works and how to make it work better.