Complementary medicine is expected to become more popular
A majority of people believe complementary medicine is as valid as conventional treatment, a survey says.
The UK-based survey revealed 68% of 1,000 people questioned had faith in alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine and naturopathy.
One in four thought western medicine was the only way to treat health problems, the survey found.
It was commissioned by London's Diagnostic Clinic, which combines orthodox and complementary medicine.
People aged 35 to 44 of the 1,000 quizzed were the most likely to have faith in complementary medicine.
Complementary medicine covers a wide spectrum and there is not the evidence to support the use of some of it.
Dr Jim Kennedy, of the Royal College of GPs
The findings come at a time when complementary therapies are becoming more popular than ever.
Britons spend £130m a year on alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and reflexology, and that is expected to rise by £70m over the next four years.
Their popularity has prompted the UK government to pledge £900,000 to fund the regulation of some complementary medicine.
Dr Rajendra Sharma, medical director of the Diagnostic Clinic, called for complementary medicine to become more mainstream.
"Orthodox and complementary medicine should not sit on different sides of healthcare provision," he said.
"Integrated medicine, where fully qualified doctors are also experts in many of the complementary disciplines, should be the healthcare model of the future."
But Dr Jim Kennedy, prescribing spokesman for the Royal College of GPs, warned: "Complementary medicine covers a wide spectrum and there is not the evidence to support the use of some of it.
"As doctors we know our patients do use complementary medicine and we don't have a problem when it is proven to be useful."
The British Medical Association agreed not all complementary medicine had a proven track record.
And a spokeswoman added: "Doctors and patients want to know what works and what doesn't.
"Given NHS resources are scare, it makes sense that any therapies available on the health service have scientific evidence to show they actually work."
Source: BBC NEWS