If there is enough evidence to prove that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) would benefit patients, Jeremy Hunt says it could become available on the NHS. The health Secretary suggested that methods and cures from the traditional therapies would be potentially incorporated with Western techniques.
Mr Hunt said that he learnt from frequent travels to China (his wife’s home country) that it is important to ‘follow scientific evidence’ when it comes to TCM. The comments were made in the Commons in response to a question from Conservative MP David Tredinnick:
“In your travels to the People’s Republic of China, what have you learnt about the integration of Western medicines with traditional Chinese medicine?”
Mr Hunt replied: “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.”
Various elements such as herbalism, acupuncture and massage therapy are often involved in Chinese medicine, all of which are currently considered complementary therapies.
Recently American researchers have revealed that the poppy plant (which has been used for centuries in Chinese herbalism) may offer relief for chronic pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommends acupuncture for lower back pain.
While these comments are promising, it is understood that no recommendations will be made until after the next election.
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