Letter: Alternative health

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The risks of unregulated and irresponsible alternative medicine are rightly highlighted in your report of the article in the New England Journal of Medicine ("Alternative medicine a health risk, say experts", 17 September).

As a GP and medical homeopath, I draw to your attention that parts of the world of complementary/alternative medicine are governed responsibly. The Faculty of Homeopathy was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1950 to oversee and regulate medical homeopathy. The faculty promotes effective, safe homeopathic medicine, practised by qualified doctors and other registered healthcare professionals. There are established disciplinary procedures.

The public may be unaware that in many areas the evidence base for orthodox medicine is non-existent, and the potential for harm substantial.

The evidence base for medical homeopathy is far from complete. However, one example of the many supportive studies is as follows. Of a group of 506 outpatients at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital with a range of conditions including back pain, arthritis and allergies, 81 per cent improved with regard to their main problem and 80 per cent in their overall well-being. Of the 300 who were on conventional drugs at the outset, two- thirds reduced or stopped them.

Dr KATHY RYAN

Council, Faculty of Homeopathy

Birkenhead

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