Integrative medicine a cover for dubious therapies: expert

Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016


The term integrative medicine is merely a cover for promoting dubious therapies that are not backed up by evidence, an expert says.

In a perspective article in this week’s MJA Professor Edzard Ernst, a former Director of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter in the UK said there were claims that integrative medicine was a rebranding exercise for alternative medicine.

“A critical assessment of the treatments that integrative clinics currently offer confirms this suspicion,” he wrote.

According to the professor the majority of clinics advertised therapies that “lack a solid evidence base.”

For example many offered homeopathy even though a recent review by the NHMRC concluded that there was no “good quality evidence” to support the claim that it worked better than placebo.

“Promoting such questionable therapies under the guise of integrative medicine seems neither ethical nor in line with the currently accepted standards of evidence-based practice,” wrote Professor Ernst.

“Integrative medicine is an ill-conceived concept which turns out to be largely about the promotion and use of unproven or disproven therapies. It thus is in conflict with the principles of both evidence-based medicine and medical ethics,” he concluded.

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