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The two sisters sat in the airport lounge, waiting for their flight to Kerala. It was delayed. They were keen to get going. Their mother had died the day before and they were going to settle her affairs. “She had a good life. She lived to 97,” explained one of the sisters. “You know what her secret was? Coconuts.”

Letter: Trust us

Sir: Your article "Trust me, I'm a witch doctor" (11 November) trots out the old claims about the dangers of complementary medicine. Acupuncture, homoeopathy and herbalism have serious, professional regulating bodies which will advise whether a practitioner is qualified or not. Better to direct your readers to these bodies than repeat measly scraps of proof that such therapies can be harmful. Why don't you alert your readers to the horrifying number of hospital admissions and deaths each year attributable to the side-effects of drugs so blithely prescribed by doctors?

Health: Trust me, I'm a witch doctor

It's the success story of the Nineties - but complementary medicine could damage your health.

HEALTH: SO, WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES?

Acupuncture: Needles in the lung area can deflate the lung; over the heart and spinal cord they can cause nerve damage. Also, needles may be "lost" in the body or carry infections. Last year, 60 people in north London were infected with hepatitis B after receiving an obscure form of acupuncture that involved re-injecting their blood.

BMA's `alternative' therapy warning

COMPLEMENTARY AND alternative medicine should be regulated to change the current unacceptable situation where people without training can practice it, the British Medical Association has said.

Sports Letters: Banned aid

Banned aid

Podium: How hypnosis plays tricks on police witnesses

MARK KEBBELL

Health: Just don't ask for evidence

WHICHEVER WAY you look at it, this week marked a watershed in medicine. The British Medical Journal, the most authoritative medical publication in the UK and across much of the world, has launched a guide to complementary medicine.

A Family Affair; `I've six months left of "mum" stuff'

Louise Arthur has terminal cancer. In January of this year she was told by doctors that she had between one and two years left to live. Louise, 28, a former aromatherapist and reflexologist, is married to Tim, 28, a journalist, and they have a three-year-old daughter, Caitlin. The family lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Acupuncture GP suspended

A DOCTOR practising an unorthodox form of acupuncture has been suspended by the General Medical Council after an NHS inquiry linked the treatment to the infection of 60 of his patients with Hepatitis B, writes Mark Rowe.

Medical schools embrace the New Age

TRAINEE DOCTORS are to study New Age therapies as a compulsory part of their medical training. Once derided as crackpot, alternative medicine is to become de rigueur in medical schools.

The Sitter's Tale: James Ivory

New Faces at the National Portrait Gallery: a `sitting' weekend is recalled by one half of Merchant Ivory
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Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

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