So Called Alternative Medicine was the title of a talk I attended yesterday evening. It was part of the Welcome Trust’s public engagement in science programme. Unfortunately, the introductory talk was perhaps inevitably given its short length very superficial and the Q&A session afterwards was similarly lacking in depth. Some therapies were dismissed as useless and the speaker (Edzard Ernst) despite having held the first chair in Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter did not seem to be on top of recent research in his chosen topic.

Perhaps the only thing I did find of interest was that in mainland Europe, massage is seen as a mainstream therapy and is prescribed by doctors in the different countries health systems.

I would make it clear that I do not describe myself as an alternative health practitioner but a complementary one.  I worked within the mainstream health system for many years and can understand I believe most of its strengths and weaknesses.

I do not make false claims about being able to cure symptoms but do say that some people with some conditions have found what I do helpful.

I can and have told clients when appropriate that they should seek medical advice either before seeing me or for something else I have discovered that I am not able to help with.

What I can offer is a supportive treatment that will not be rushed. (My normal appointment length is ninety minutes.) I will not dismiss worries that my clients have and will treat them with respect. If unable to help, I will say so.