Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Is trust enough?

April 02, 2005

Is trust enough?
A-Z alternative health guide: the conclusions. Complementary therapies need to be regulated - now

AFTER four weeks spent investigating complementary therapies for our A-Z guide, we can reach one conclusion: the industry needs sorting out — fast. We set out to quantify the research to support claims that these therapies work and found, as the above table shows, that a quarter of the most common ones have almost no evidence to back them. As our expert Dr Toby Murcott says, even therapies that top our table would, by the standards of orthodox medicine, be considered seriously under-examined.

That leaves swaths of alternative medicine open to the charge that they offer only unproven therapies. We do not say that it is quackery but, for its own sake, the sector must subject itself to more rigorous study and engage seriously with researchers to develop new scientific ways to verify the possibly subtle effects of complementary care.

More importantly, we need proper systems to control therapists. With the exception of chiropractic and osteopathy, which are regulated by law, anyone can set up shop as an alternative practitioner and do all manner of intimate things to you, regardless of their skill.

Our research found a swarm of “professional bodies” claiming to represent therapies — hypnotherapy has 20. It confuses patients and gives the impression that some therapists have proper qualifications or professional affiliations, when they don’t.

Current moves to bring more therapies under legal control are glacially slow. Most specialties won’t be anywhere near regulated in five years’ time. But, as the Government has shown this week with school food, it can move fast when needs be. And urgent action is needed here, too.