Science-based complementary medicine


Edited by Tom Meade FRS

An increasing number of patients who feel that conventional medical treatment provided by their doctors has not met their expectations are seeking ways to complement, or to replace it with some alternative therapy.

Doctors trained in western medicine and its scientific basis have been suspicious of the claims of therapies based on different concepts, attributing any reported benefits at best to a placebo effect or dismissing them as fraudulent. An important step in bridging the gap between these therapeutic cultures was the setting up of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine which aims to introduce genuine, acceptable scientific methods of assessing these treatments. At about the same time, Professor Tom Meade's unit conducted a carefully controlled comparison of chiropractic with conventional physiotherapy for lower back pain which is reported here.

Based on papers given at a conference organised by the Royal College of Physicians in 1997, this book describes how to gather and examine the evidence of a scientific basis for complementary medicine, illustrates what can and cannot be achieved with homoeopathy, herbal remedies and manipulations of the spine, and what doctors and patients expect of such therapies.


  • Forward K G M M Alberti, president, Royal College of Physicians
  • What we need to know and how to achieve it - T W Meade, R Gray and R Peto
  • Does homoeopathy work and if so how? - S T Holgate
  • Making the appropriate comparisons: placebos and controls - G T Lewith
  • Outcomes: do health professionals and patients have the same objectives? - H M McGee
  • Herbal remedies for the treatment of malaria - B M Greenwood
  • Manipulation: the research evidence - A C Breen
  • Promoting rigorous research: the work of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine - A Vickers

Copies available on request.

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