Most complementary therapies are unproven, says UK's only professor of complementary medicine
Edzard Ernst warned people to be wary of web sites that claim to offer cures for cancer. He also mentioned the risks of herbal medicines affecting the way orthodox drugs work. If a claim sounds to be true it probably is (too good to be true), he said.
He advised people not to just accept a complementary therapist at face value. You should ask for proof of indemnity cover and experience. He also tells people to check exactly what the treatment plans are before they start.
Professor Edzard Ernst works at the Plymouth Peninsula Medical School, UK.
Edzard Ernst and colleagues studied 32 cancer web sites, all of them popular. They found that the information on them varied considerably.
He described his findings as ?quite an eye opener and pretty scary stuff. A lot of unproven stuff is being recommended to cancer patients. Cancer patients, particularly those who are seriously ill, are desperate patients, and desperate patients will cling to any claim and promise that is being made to them. Therefore, I think bogus claims for alternative cancer cures are very, very dangerous.\"
He said such therapies as consuming powdered shark fin and apricot kernels were unproven.
More worrying, Edzard Ernst said, were web sites that told people to stop taking their regular cancer drugs. Edzard said there must be some people around who have come to an earlier than expected death as a result of following that advice.
Edzard Ernst said that what was needed was an approval scheme. Good sites could be given a seal which showed they were reliable.
Some complementary products undermine the activity of crucial life saving drugs. Edzard Ernst gave the example of St. John?s Wort, which undermines the effectiveness of Warfarin and leaves the patient at much higher risk of a heart attack (patients who are already at high risk).
Edzard said patients should tell their GPs if they are on complementary therapies.
40,000 alternative/complementary therapists work in the UK. Many of them are unregulated. About one quarter of the UK population uses complementary therapy each year.
Edzard Ernst prefers the term, ?complementary? to ?alternative?. ?Alternative? suggests the patient should abandon his/her current orthodox treatment.
There are no references listed for this article.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
n.p. "Most complementary therapies are unproven, says UK's only professor of complementary medicine." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2 Aug. 2004. Web.
28 May. 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/11558.php>
n.p. (2004, August 2). "Most complementary therapies are unproven, says UK's only professor of complementary medicine." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
Contact our news editors
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please see our contact page.
Copyright Medical News Today: Excluding email/sharing services explicitly offered on this website, material published on Medical News Today may not be reproduced, or distributed without the prior written permission of Medilexicon International Ltd. Please contact us for further details.