Letter: Alternative medicine

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Sir: Professor Edzard Ernst has injected some much-needed sense into the prevalent enthusiasm for all kinds of unconventional medicine, but his is very much a minority voice ("Hidden truths behind healing hands", 2 June).

I have spent almost a quarter of a century as a conventionally qualified doctor practising two forms of complementary medicine, acupuncture and homoeopathy, within the NHS. I have always felt it was an important part of the job to tell patients what could and could not be achieved by unconventional means. This task has become much harder recently, as uncritical optimism has been fostered by a vocal army of enthusiasts with little real understanding of the issues involved.

It is very difficult to publish books or articles which are in any way critical of complementary medicine; the message is not one that most people want to hear. Professor Ernst's article was a welcome exception.


London N14