A number of our recent blog posts have focused on research into the complementary therapies available at the York Clinic. Clinic Director Hugh MacPherson, for example, has been involved in research into the effectiveness of acupuncture, counselling and the Alexander Technique for various conditions [1][2].

In 2010, three experts brought science-based or ‘mainstream’ medicine under similar scrutiny. In an article for the Huffington Post Blog they explored the evidence for the effectiveness of mainstream medicine, considering whether common medical treatments had been scientifically demonstrated to be beneficial [3]. The results are perhaps surprising.

Based on evaluation of around 3000 common medical treatments by the British Medical Journal, only 11 percent of treatments were shown to be absolutely beneficial [4]. A further 24 percent were likely to be beneficial, while seven percent were as likely to be harmful as beneficial. At the opposite end of the scale, five percent were unlikely to be beneficial and three percent were likely to be harmful or ineffective. This leaves a remarkable 50 percent of the treatments for which the effectiveness is unknown.

The authors of the Huffington Post Blog suggest that, while alternative therapies should not be adopted just because they are alternative, they should not be dismissed out of hand on the grounds of a widely held notion that mainstream medicine is the only ‘real’ – or scientifically verified – form of healthcare.


For more information about the treatments available at the York Clinic, visit our website. To book an appointment, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at email@yorkclinic.com, or use our contact form.  We will respond to you as quickly as possible.



1. MacPherson H, Richmond S, Bland, Brealey S, Gabe R, et al. Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS Medicine, 2013; 10(9): e1001518.

2. J. Eldred, A. Hopton, E. Donnison, J. Woodman, H. MacPherson. ‘Teachers of the Alexander Technique in the UK and the people who take their lessons: a national cross-sectional survey’ in Complementary Therapies in Medicine. Published Online April 13, 2015.

3. ‘The Mythology Of Science-Based Medicine’, Huffington Post Blog (2010) by Dr. Larry Dossey, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Rustum Roy.

4. ‘What conclusions has Clinical Evidence drawn about what works, what doesn’t based on randomised controlled trial evidence?’ BMJ Clinical Evidence (accessed  26th May 2015).