NHS could provide Chinese medicine

Acupuncture image

Massage and acupuncture may be offered on the NHS

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested that traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture, should be available on the NHS if there is sufficient evidence that it is beneficial to patients.

Replying to a question in the Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hunt agreed that Chinese techniques could be integrated with more modern Western methods, if scientific research finds positive results.

Mr Hunt, who has often traveled to China, said “What I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is to follow the scientific evidence and where there is good evidence for the impact of Chinese medicine then we should look at that but where there isn’t we shouldn’t spend NHS money on it.”

Alternative treatments

Chinese medicine can involve herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage therapy. NHS Choices states the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends acupuncture as a treatment only for lower back pain. It adds that the recommendation is based on scientific evidence. American researchers have recently said that a poppy plant used for centuries in Chinese medicine may offer a remedy for chronic pain.

Despite the plus points of Chinese medicine, The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has still advised to take care around these products, as they may contain high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic, as well as possible traces of traces of endangered animals.

Do you feel Chinese medicine is beneficial? Should it be offered on the NHS at all?