MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

I am pleased to report that my ‘ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME’ is growing steadily. So far, this elite club includes:

Gustav Dobos

Claudia Witt

George Lewith

John Licciardone

Time, I think, to elect another member. I was fascinated to read what the COLLEGE OF MEDICINE (I have published about this organisation before, for instance, here) writes about a former co-worker of mine, Simon Mills (those who have read my memoir will know more about him and about my struggle to disassociate me and my work from him and his activities):

Simon Mills is a member of the College of Medicine Council. He is a Cambridge graduate in medical sciences who has since 1977 been a herbal practitioner and natural therapist in Exeter. In that time he has led the main organizations for herbal medicine in the UK (the British Herbal Medicine Association, the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy, and National Institute of Medical Herbalists) and served on Government and House of Lords committees. Since 1997 he has been Secretary of ESCOP, the lead herbal scientific network in Europe, that produces defining monographs on herbal medicines for the European Medicines Agency. He has also written award-winning seminal herbal medicine textbooks, notably with Kerry Bone the two editions of Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy and the Essential Book of Herbal Safety. He has long been involved in academic work having co-founded the world’s first University centre for complementary health in Exeter (1987), the first integrated health course at a UK medical school at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter (2000) and the first masters degree programme in herbal medicine in the USA (2001). He has published in many peer-reviewed scientific journals including full clinical trials with herbal medicines, and has supervised 10 successful doctorate theses. Simon is currently building a new role for healthcare practitioners as ‘health guides. With health workbooks, training programmes, community projects and websites.

It was new to me that he has ‘published in many peer-reviewed scientific journals’, so I did a Medline search and found a total of 14 articles. Most of these were comments, letters etc. I decided to identify the first 10 papers that drew some sort of conclusions about the value of alternative therapies. This is what I found (as usual, I have copied the conclusions in bold):

Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population.

Pengelly A, Snow J, Mills SY, Scholey A, Wesnes K, Butler LR.

J Med Food. 2012 Jan;15(1):10-7. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0005. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

The positive effect of the dose nearest normal culinary consumption points to the value of further work on effects of low doses over the longer term.

Continuous PC6 wristband acupressure for relief of nausea and vomiting associated with acute myocardial infarction: a partially randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

Dent HE, Dewhurst NG, Mills SY, Willoughby M.

Complement Ther Med. 2003 Jun;11(2):72-7.

Continuous 24-h PC6 acupressure therapy as an adjunct to standard antiemetic medication for post-MI nausea and vomiting is feasible and is well accepted and tolerated by patients. In view of its benefits, further studies are worthwhile using earlier onset of treatment.

Effect of a proprietary herbal medicine on the relief of chronic arthritic pain: a double-blind study.

Mills SY, Jacoby RK, Chacksfield M, Willoughby M.

Br J Rheumatol. 1996 Sep;35(9):874-8.

It is concluded that Reumalex has a mild analgesic effect in chronic arthritis at a level appropriate to self-medication.

Yes, there were just three such papers; perhaps the College of Medicine’s description is just a trifle misleading? As all of these arrived at positive conclusions, I think Mr Mills nevertheless deserves a place in my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE’S HALL OF FAME.

6 Responses to The list of remarkable alternative medicine researchers is extending: THE ALT MED HALL OF FAME

  • Any chance that Alan Bensoussan of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Australia can be added to this list? His area of expertise is acupuncture and I know that he offered Claudia Witt a Director position at the NICM a couple of years ago, which she thankfully declined due to some personal issues. They also “review” each others papers so I suspect you might find Alan to be in a similar league than Claudia Witt.

  • The College of ‘Medicine’ is still banging on about the usual tropes of ‘integration’ (non-sense with sense; camistry (CAM) with evidence-based conventional orthodox medicine (COM); wishful thinking with informed opinion; fantasy with reality etc.).

    It’s current programme of events tries to play down this intention and give the impression it is simply advancing the cause of a ‘holistic’ approach. It recently appointed a new council (or its progenitors did – there were no democratic elections to its council, nor for its officers):

    “We agreed that the integrated approaches that we are championing are particularly relevant to those with greatest needs, and are firmly based in defeating health inequalities, where these are not being addressed by the purely biomedical. Our initiatives in social prescribing and the creation of healthy communities are exemplars of our greater mission; to create a better, fairer and healthier society and health service.”

    The ‘College’ is shortly putting on a course:

    “This two-day course led by Professor David Peters and Dr Michael Dixon will provide an introduction to integrated health and care. It is open to all clinicians but should be particularly helpful for GPs and nurses, who are interested in looking beyond the conventional biomedical box.

    The course will include sessions on lifestyle approaches, social prescribing, mind/body therapies and cover most mainstream complementary therapies.

    The aim of the course will be to demonstrate our healing potential beyond prescribing and referral, to provide information that will be useful in discussing non-conventional treatment options with patients and to teach some basic skills that can be used in clinical practice. The latter will include breathing techniques, basic manipulation and acupuncture, mind/body therapies including self-hypnosis and a limited range of herbal remedies. There will also be an opportunity to discuss how those attending might begin to integrate their everyday clinical practice.”

    Somehow I doubt there will be much discussion of the evidence upon which the ‘College’ bases its proposals for action.
    The discussion will be on ‘how to integrate (CAM with COM)’ – not on ‘whether CAM should be integrated with COM’ – that is, whether camistry has any validity.

    I propose the leaders of this course for the AMHOF.

  • How can this be called “The College of Medicine?” It should be called “The College of Alternative Deception.” SAD!

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