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Independents' Day

Why be so un-complementary?

\\I find myself reading the answers to Answer Back provided by Professor Edzard Ernst with an uneasy feeling ­ how can a professor of complementary medicine be so negative about his own specialty?

In his discussion of aloe vera (October 27) he says no clinical trials have proven its benefit for any indication, yet I have found studies that confirm its benefits in the treatment of burns.

His closing remarks regarding possible drug interactions appear to be his own speculation and are potentially scaremongering.

Dr Anabel Harries



Professor Ernst replies:

Dr Harries confuses negative with critical (as in analytical). My job is to apply the rules of science to complementary medicine ­ an uncritical scientist is clearly a contradiction in terms.

Regarding the use of aloe vera for treating burns, the evidence is neither uniform nor methodologically sound. Critical analysis of the totality of the data cannot conclude that aloe vera is effective for this or any other condition.

The advice regarding possible interactions was extracted from respected textbooks!

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