The US National Institutes of Health is about to launch a study of the benefits of alternative medical treatments, including nutrition, acupuncture, homoepathy and oriental medicine.
Stephen Groft from the institute says the "information and data generated from the evaluation will be useful to the scientific and medical communities as well as the general public".
The testing methodology will be developed by conventional doctors working alongside alternative practitioners. The evaluators will need to understand the theory as well as the practice of unconventional medical practitioners if they are to develop appropriate ways to test, according to one doctor participant. "One cannot envisage the most useful and appropriate experiment if one doesn't understand what one is trying to test," he adds.