CAM - junk science or genuine alternative?
Saturday 27 October, 12.15pm until 1.15pm, Lecture Theatre 1 Lunchtime Debates

Despite a growing public demand for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and its widespread acceptance in the NHS, there is a backlash among many doctors and others who reject it as unscientific. While universities offer more and more science degree courses in CAM, opponents consider them unscientific and ‘Mickey Mouse’. But CAM supporters say they’ve not had the necessary funding to research its effectiveness, although they know it works, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is coming under pressure to evaluate CAM.

Does it matter that CAM is not based on conventional science, as long as it works, or even as long as people believe it works? Supporters suggest it should be a matter of patients’ choice, but critics argue it is misleading to give the stamp of medical authority to dodgy superstition. Is there any room for CAM in 21st century healthcare?


Professor Edzard Ernst
Laing chair in Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth
Dr Stuart Derbyshire
reader in psychology, University of Birmingham; associate editor, Psychosomatic Medicine and Pain
Dr Toby Murcott
science writer and broadcaster; Body & Soul contributor; author, The Whole Story - Alternative Medicine on Trial?
Bríd Hehir
writer, researcher and traveller; retired nurse and fundraiser

 Produced by

Bríd Hehir writer, researcher and traveller; retired nurse and fundraiser

Complementary medicine, Colin Berry

 Recommended readings

Alternative medicine: should we swallow it?
In this book contributors from a variety of healthcare backgrounds make the case for and against CAM
Various, Hodder Arnold and Stoughton, 2001

Science degrees without the science
Running BSc courses on CAM is to peddle archaic gobbledygook as science
David Colquhoun, Nature, 21 March 2007

Hard up NHS cuts back on unproven homeopathy treatment
Pressure from doctors coupled with financial concerns has seen the NHS reduce investment in CAM
Mark Henderson, The Times, 22 May 2007

recommended by spiked

What role for complimentary medicine in treating cancer?
Professor Michael Baum, 4 July 2006

Put alternative medicine back in its box
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, 25 June 2002

The rise and rise of CAM
Brid Hehir, 7 March 2001

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