We need evidence about the risks and benefits of alternative medicines

I HAVE a confession to make. For most of my life, I have been sceptical about the merits of alternative and complementary medicines. But when I experienced an unpleasant condition in my 30s that …

couldn’t be helped by conventional medicine, I ran straight to my local alternative health store.

I was seeking relief from unrelenting morning sickness. The remedies I tried – ginger supplements and wearing an acupressure wristband – had no effect. But the experience gave me a better understanding of why people with debilitating health conditions can get so desperate that they try anything.

I was reminded of this by the dispute that erupted last month when the World Health Organization (WHO) held its first global summit on traditional and complementary medicines, encompassing practices with long histories, such as Indian Ayurvedic medicine, and more recent Western inventions, such as homeopathy.

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