‘Complementary’ cancer treatment nearly kills man

‘A cancer patient nearly died from cyanide poisoning because of his burning passion for apricot kernel extract. The unidentified man, 67, consumed two teaspoons of the ‘complementary medicine’ each day, in the belief it would keep him in remission. He was also taking three tablets of Novodalin – a commercially made herbal fruit kernel supplement daily for the same reason. But his habit eventually caught up with him, a case study reveals. He was beginning to become starved of oxygen – which is how cyanide kills. Doctors found him to have 25 times above the safe limit of the toxin in his body – an amount that can have serious side effects.’

Veterinary Complementary and Alternative Medicine

At a time when the availability of homeopathy in the UK’s National Health Service is diminishing we now have an assault on its use (and the use of other alternative medical procedures) with animals. No Way to Treat a Friend: Lifting the Lid on Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine by Niall Taylor and Alex Gough “is an informative and readable exposé of CAVM. Written in an accessible style and illustrated with stories and cases from veterinary practice about real animals, this book is a counterweight to the mass of ‘pro’ literature in existence which uncritically promotes CAVM without consideration of whether or not it works or could even be harmful to our animal companions”. The book is due out in October and may now be ordered online.

No way to treat a friend

NHS consultation on unjustified prescribing

This July the National Health Service in England published a report with the title ‘Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: A Consultation on guidance for CCGs’. The report lists a range of treatments currently prescribed within the NHS without sufficient justification. To the delight of skeptics these include homeopathy and herbal remedies, which the report considered to be of no proven efficacy. Until October 21st people will have the opportunity to give their views on these proposals using an online form.

Promotion of alternative medicine by charities

The UK’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) ‘has urged the Charity Commission to improve its registration processes as part of its response to the consultation on charities providing complementary and alternative medicines’. The Charity Commission’s consultation closed earlier this month ‘with the regulator receiving more than 300 responses. It plans to set out a revised approach to registration in the autumn. This could result in the removal of hundreds of charities and was prompted by the Good Thinking Society, which is a charity set up to promote scientific thinking’.

Is alternative medicine widespread but not widely used?

When it comes to debates and reasoning, alternative medicine proponents used to refer to popularity and customer choice issues (instead of efficacy). However there are several thorough surveys that seems to show that the use of alternative medicine is not at all so widespread. Does everyone speak about it but only a few using it?

Alternative medicine use in the UK

NatCen – Britain’s largest independent social research agency – launched a blog series where they plan to go through the European Social Survey data to know more.