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So-called 'integrated medicine' is disturbing nonsense

Professor Edzard Ernst argues practices professing to offer 'integrated medicine' are acting unethically if they dispense unproven or disproven treatments to their patients.

Professor Edzard Ernst argues practices professing to offer 'integrated medicine' are acting unethically if they dispense unproven or disproven treatments to their patients.

The BBC recently asked me to write an article on a subject that I feel strongly about for their website "Scrubbing Up".

I chose ‘integrated medicine' which, in my view, is a lot of nonsense. Essentially it is a shabby smokescreen behind which useless treatments are being admitted into NHS primary care. "The best of both worlds" - my foot!

In the article, I criticise the theoretical concepts of integrated medicine but the acid test, of course, is what happens "on the coal face".

41222684 In "Healing, Hype or Harm? A Critical Analysis of Complementary or Alternative Medicine (Edzard Ernst (Ed) Exeter: Societas Imprint Academics, 2008), I provide several examples from the UK and abroad of practices pursuing the integrated approach.

It is easy to find such ill-advised practices across the world. In fact, it would be quite difficult to find an integrated medicine practice that is based on good scientific evidence.

To me, this is most amazing and disturbing. Why would anyone want to integrate nonsense? Is it not clear that even the most dapper integration of nonsense must result in nonsense?

Why not use only the many CAM treatments that are backed by good evidence? There are plenty out there that do demonstrably generate more good than harm (Ernst E. Complementary and alternative medicine: what the NHS should be funding? Br J Gen Pract 2008; 58(548): 208-209).

Integrated medicine, if practiced in this non-evidence based fashion, brings the reputable side of complementary medicine into disrepute. Maybe that is why it annoys me so much!

I submit that using unproven or disproven treatments in routine general practice is unethical (GMC ethics code) and is likely to lower the standard of care.

Professor Edzard Ernst Quote1

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