Healing, Hype Or Harm?: A Critical Analysis of Complementary Or Alternative Medicine

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Edzard Ernst
Imprint Academic, 2008 - Medical - 178 pages
2 Reviews

The scientists, academics and practitioners writing this book are not 'against' complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), but they are very much 'for' evidence-based medicine and single standards. They aim to counter-balance the many uncritical books on CAM and to stimulate intelligent, well-informed public debate. TOPICS INCLUDE: What is CAM? Why is it so popular? Patient choice; Reclaiming compassion; Teaching CAM at university; Research on CAM; CAM in court; Ethics and CAM; Politics and CAM; Homeopathy in context; Concepts of holism in medicine; Placebo, deceit and CAM; Healing but not curing; CAM and the media.

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User Review  - Lenaphoenix - LibraryThing

I've read three other books this year examining the history and efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), so I wasn't really looking for another one. After reading a review of this ... Read full review

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A mishmash of interesting and rambling. Comes very close to a summary of skeptical blog postings on the topic of complimentary and/or alternative medicine, with some essays representing the very best commentary I've ever read on the topic on the web, and others simply being personal opinions that don't go very far or add very much. I must admit, I found James Randi's disappointingly matter-of-fact. As usual, Ernst shines in his clear, blunt prose and authoritative skewering of the failings of CAM in logic and research. The book is worth reading for his essays alone. However, the few attempts at trying to "save" the "good" parts of CAM (mostly compassion and what Charlton called "healing") really came across as apologetics for the placebo effect and the time that should be taken by doctors to listen to patients. I can only see the solution to be "train more doctors" rather than "imitate the quacks", but unfortunately that is not the approach taken in those chapters. A good introduction but doesn't add anything informative to the knowledge base of a reasonably well-read CAM skeptic. 

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About the author (2008)

Professor Ernst qualified as a physician in Germany where he also completed his MD and PhD theses. He was Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) at Hannover Medical School (Germany) and Head of the PMR Department at the University of Vienna (Austria). He came to the University of Exeter in 1993 to establish the first Chair in Complementary Medicine. Since 2012, he is Emeritus Professor.

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