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Drugs vs Alternative Therapies — Ask the Experts

By Andrew Pennington 1 min read

Q: I’ve noticed a trend towards seeking alternative therapies. Is this really better than pills and drugs?

As an integrative GP, I do not believe drugs and complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) therapies should be mutually exclusive. I believe the best approach is to combine evidence-based approaches from orthodox or conventional sources with CAM therapies. Each therapy (whether pharmacological or CAM) should be weighed up on its merits and individualised to each person.

Someone having an acute asthma attack should be given a synthetic drug (Salbutamol, commonly known as Ventolin), which is life-saving. Someone having a heart attack should be given aspirin. CAM therapies are not likely to help in these situations.

However, someone with recurrent hives, eczema or hay fever may well benefit from CAM therapies. In some cases, I find CAM therapies are more closely targeted at treating the cause of the problems, rather than masking it with a drug.

As a general rule, a wholistic or integrative doctor seeks to go deeper to try to find the root cause wherever possible, and this often takes time, which can be the enemy of modern medical practice set-ups with short consult times. Naturally, seek advice from a suitably qualified health practitioner who has knowledge to guide the patient in these areas.


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Andrew Pennington is a GP with Sanctuary Lifestyle Clinic.


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