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Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. 2009 July 1; 59(564): 541–542.
PMCID: PMC2702022

Author's response

Edzard Ernst, Professor

Lakasing and Grover state that, in my article,1 I take a ‘very reductionist view of CAM’ citing my book Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial as evidence. This book is one of the few of my publications aimed not at healthcare professionals but at lay people. I have published well over 1000 articles in the peer reviewed medical literature (, and that body of work would perhaps be a better measure of my research.

Lakasing and Grover also state that I make ‘no concession to the fact that many alternative remedies have useful therapeutic benefit’ citing St John's Wort as a case in point. Ironically, it was I who published the first systematic review of St John's Wort that showed its effectiveness.2 The article Lakasing and Grover criticise1 includes the following statement ‘My team have shown repeatedly that some forms of CAM have considerable potential; in order to apply it to the benefit of patients, the best way forward is that of evidence-based medicine’. Only a few months ago, I detailed in the BJGP which types of CAM, according to our own analyses, are sufficiently well evidence-based to be considered for routine practice within the NHS.3

Lakasing and Grover then put up a strawman by claiming that I want CAM to become ‘an exact science’. This is not true. What I was saying in my article1 is that double standards are detrimental and CAM should abide by the rules of evidence-based medicine. My article1 is by no means not a ‘blanket condemnation’ of CAM, it is a critique of the muddled thinking that unfortunately is prevalent in CAM. I am nevertheless thankful to Lakasing and Grover for stimulating further debate that can only, I am sure, be a good thing.


1. Ernst E. Complementary/alternative medicine: engulfed by postmodernism, anti-science and regressive thinking. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(61):298–301. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Ernst E. St John's wort, an anti-depressant? A systematic, criteria-based review. Phytomed. 1995;2(1):67–71. [PubMed]
3. Ernst E. Complementary and alternative medicine: what the NHS should be funding? Br J Gen Pract. 2008;58(548):208–209. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners