Complementary and alternative medicine: an introduction to the evidence base
What should you say when patients ask about these therapies?
- By: Edzard Ernst
Few medical students obtain much in depth knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during their education. Even though the GMC’s document Tomorrow’s Doctors states that CAM should belong to the core curriculum, in the reality of a busy medical school schedule, the teaching provided is rarely sufficient. Once exposed to the “real world” of healthcare, young doctors tend to realise that many of their patients use some form of CAM and thus feel the need for more information.
As doctors, we may love or hate CAM but around 25% of the UK population uses it1 and we ought to know the essential facts and be able to give responsible, accurate advice that serves the interest of our patients. This article aims to providing medical students with a useful overview.
The terminology in this area can be confusing. It would be tempting to define alternative treatments as those that are