Edzard Ernst: Why alternative medicine wins from the foundation's demise


The Foundation for Integrated Health is closing. Should we be sad? I don't think so. During recent years, this organisation seems to have broken charity regulations by becoming a tool for Prince Charles to implement his often bizarre ideas regarding healthcare.

He seems to think that the nation should be force-fed on alternative medicine today, while research into these treatments might be conducted some time in the future. I, on the other hand, have often pointed out that research has to come first; it should sort out the wheat from the chaff and, subsequently, we might consider integrating those treatments that demonstrably generate more good than harm. I therefore think that the FIH has become a lobby group for unproven and disproven treatments populated by sycophants.

The FIH has repeatedly been economical with the truth. For instance when it published a DoH-sponsored patient guide that was devoid of evidence. They claimed evidence was never meant to be included. But I had seen a draft where it was and friends have seen the contract with the DoH where "evidence" was an important element.

I hope that, after the demise of FIH, the discussion about alternative medicine in the UK can once more become rational. I also hope that Prince Charles has the greatness of selecting advisers who actually advise rather than "Yes Men" who are hoping to see their names on the next Honours List.

If they advise him properly, they ought to remind him that, in healthcare, evidence is paramount.

Edzard Ernst is professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School, Exeter