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.”

Health: The NHS is getting complementary

Many GPs are prescribing osteopathy and other `alternative' remedies.

Letter: Blinkered medicine

IT IS NOT gullibility, as Edzard Ernst suggests ("The power of believing", 16 August), that drives the public to seek alternative treatments, but a search for answers. Despite a huge deployment of human, financial and technical resources, pharmaceutically oriented orthodox medicine has proved completely powerless when faced with myriad conditions, including serious diseases such as cancer.

Hypnosis can help you get pregnant

KAREN McAULEY spent years trying for a second child, although there was no medical reason to stop her conceiving. Then her doctor recommended an unusual remedy - hypnosis - and she became pregnant within months.

Clinic infects 47 with hepatitis

UP TO 47 people have been confirmed to have hepatitis B and a further 400 are being tested for two strains of the virus after undergoing a form of alternative medicine at a private practice.

Letter: It worked!

Sir: I write in support of Nicholas Pole (letter, 5 June). Having been sceptical about alternative medicine, I decided to take a course of Shiatsu for a cold. In just seven days my cold was completely cured. Normally it hangs around for a week.

Letter: Alternative medicine

Sir: I practise Shiatsu, one of the therapies for which, as Professor Ernst rightly points out, virtually no clinical trials have been carried out, and I entirely agree with his call for rigorous research.

Health: Hidden truths behind healing hands

Complementary medicine is a boom industry, but media hype has often exaggerated the benefits and ignored a lack of hard scientific evidence to support its claims.

Alternative medicine comes in from the cold

FRANK DOBSON, the Health Secretary, called yesterday for "rigorous standards" to be applied to the practice of alternative medicine to ensure it is effective and safe.

Letter: Real abuse

SO-CALLED false memory syndrome is a red herring ("Sex, lies and therapy", Section 2, 5 April). I grew up in a"trauma-organised" family, which means that victimising activities, whether physical, sexual or emotional, were justified as being caused (or deserved) by the victim. When those who confront their parents, as I did, are accused of having false memories, this pattern is repeated. My parents sent anonymous letters, isolated me from the rest of the family and gave press interviews saying I'd been brainwashed. But I've never had regression therapy, hypnosis or drugs and I'm not suggestible - I just realised that the way I'd been treated wasn't right and I didn't want to treat my children the same way. False memory syndrome is being used to discredit very real accounts of abuse.

Acupuncture remedy linked to hepatitis outbreak

AN obscure form of acupuncture treatment has been linked to one of the worst outbreaks of the potentially deadly virus hepatitis B since the war.

Letter: Safety of acupuncture

YOU ARE right to regard alternative therapies with scepticism, but it is not always true that "alternative medicine is fine as long as it does no actual harm" (leading article, 17 March).

Smith & Nephew pioneers `engineered skin' treatment

SMITH & NEPHEW, the UK's largest healthcare group, is hoping to introduce a revolutionary new cure for cartilage and ligament injuries based on its pioneering skin-grafting work which uses human tissue from the foreskin of circumcised babies. The new treatment could eventually prevent the amputation of patient's legs and act as alternative to the insertion of artificial knees.

Acupuncture treatment link to deadly virus

HEALTH officials have warned a London medical centre to stop treatment involving needles after an obscure form of acupuncture was linked to an outbreak of the potentially deadly Hepatitis B virus.

Health: `So, you don't want a needle there? Why don't I stick it in your Abundant Splendour?'

"Dr Paul Cronin took a weekend course in acupuncture and was delighted to discover a quick and easy alternative medicine." So proclaims an article in GP magazine, accompanied by a stunning photo of Dr Cronin all in beige and armed with a stick of the common mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). This is apparently ignited and used for moxibustion - the warming of acupoints to strengthen the body's Qi in conditions characterised by coldness and deficiency. Fascinating stuff but I couldn't help pondering whether a weekend is enough to learn the lingo, master the mugwort and suss out the where, how and why of magico-religious needle sticking.

Hypnosis plea fails

The mother of a young woman who died in her sleep hours after being hypnotised on stage failed in a High Court bid to force a fresh inquest to be held.
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