Reponse to McIntyre

Edzard Ernst, Director,
March 03, 2004

Dear Editor

Re: Ethical problems arising in evidencebased complementary and alternative medicine Edzard Ernst, Michael H. Cohen, Julie Stone

Mr McIntyre [1] rightly states that, in the UK, initiatives are underway to regulate acupuncturists and herbalists. At the time of writing this letter, a draft document is circulating. At the time of writing the actual article (about one year ago), these initiatives had barely started and certainly had not produced anything tangible. Regulation of UK acupuncturists and herbalists may be in place in about 2 – 3 years (my estimation). For the many other CAM providers (from aromatherapists to yoga teachers), no such initiatives exist. My main point is that, except for chiropractors and osteopaths, there is no statutory regulation at present. This also means that today anyone in the UK, irrespective of training or education, can call themselves an acupuncturist or herbalist. Thus I truly don’t see the “glaring omission”. In terms of integrating “orthodox and CAM for the benefit of millions”, McIntyre seems to forget that evidence has to come before integration. In the case of the therapeutic approach of UK traditional herbalism, I know of not a single study that would constitute acceptable proof of efficacy. I’m also not sure whether “the UK leads the world in the development of CAM” – it would be nice but I do detect a bit of wishful thinking in McIntyre’s words.


(1) McIntyre MJ. Positive developments in CAM in the UK [electronic response to JME Advanced Publication: Ernst et al. Ethical problems arising in evidencebased complementary and alternative medicine] 2004

Conflict of Interest

None declared