Popularity of Alternative Medicine Increasing in Britain

LONDON (Aug. 23)- The number of people using complementary and alternative medicines in Britain has doubled over the past six years, with herbal medicine and acupuncture becoming increasingly popular, according to a survey published by the BBC Monday.

The poll of 1,200 people found that one in five Britons was now opting for such therapies, spending almost 15 pounds a month on average.

The poll also showed that 78 percent of those surveyed believe alternative or complementary health treatments will become increasingly popular.

The results showed that 21 percent have used a complementary medicine or therapy in the last year, double the number found to be using them in a similar survey six years ago.

The survey revealed men were less likely than women to turn to a therapist, but that two of the most popular treatments, herbal medicine and acupuncture, were used more by men than women.

The majority of people surveyed said the main reason they used alternative medicine was because it worked for them, but other reasons given included that it was relaxing and that it helped prevent illness.

One in 10 people was referred to an alternative therapist by their doctor, but an equal number referred themselves because they said they did not believe in conventional medicine, according to the poll. Others said they went to a complementary practitioner because they could not obtain the treatment they wanted on the NHS (National Health Service).

The poll also revealed that the shift towards alternative therapies may be saving the NHS money.