Complementary and Alternative Medicines

AcupunctureGroup Lead: Dr Nicola Gale 

This research group focuses on the use of traditional/ indigenous forms of medicine, and complementary and alternative therapies (TM/CAM). This includes an extremely diverse group of approaches to managing health and wellbeing, including traditional medical systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, complementary therapies, such as reflexology and aromatherapy, alternative medical systems, such as homeopathy or osteopathy, mindfulness practices, such as meditation, and bodywork/exercise, such as yoga or tai chi.

Research includes:

  • different cultural perspectives on health and illness, and their relationship to healthcare choices
  • legal and professional issues in TM/CAM, including regulation and practitioner training and development
  • patient experience of care in TM/CAM, and its relationship to self-care
  • the structure and organisation of health systems internationally, and the role of TM/CAM
  • epidemiological studies on the prevalence and distribution of TM/CAM use
  • evaluations of the effectiveness of specific TM/CAM interventions

The research group in HaPS also hosts the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Birmingham Research Alliance (CAMBRA), an interdisciplinary and cross-organisational research network for the study of TM/CAM.


Evidence, Libraries and Information

NHS Evidence - Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This excellent site contains information about the most up-to-date medical scientific research on the efficacy and effectiveness of CAM treatments. Information is arranged by CAM modality and by medical condition.

CAMLIS - Complementary and Alternative Medicine Library and Information Service.

Searching PubMed for scholarly articles on CAM.

DoH policy statement on Homeopathy

Providers with an interest in research in the Birmingham and West Midlands region

Freshwinds.  Integrated Medicine Service. A local charity that runs an integrated medicine service free-of-charge.

Other Research Centres and Networks

Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit, University of Southampton. Active research unit with a focus on both qualitative and quantitative medical and health services research.

University of Leeds

Based in the School of Healthcare, this research theme focuses on a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding traditional, complementary and alternative healthcare.

University of Bristol

CAM is one of the main research themes in the Academic Unit of Primary Health Care.

Research Council for Complementary Medicine


Journal of Complementary Medicine

This journal, based in Australia, carries articles and reviews relevent to medical practitioners.

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Based in the US, this journal carries articles on current treatment, medical concepts and case reports.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This open access journal focuses on reporting research that "explores the biological mechanisms of action, as well as their efficacy, safety, costs, patterns of use and/or implementation".  It focuses on medical research, rather than social sciences.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

With an Impact Factor of 1.841, this international journal is influential and carries a range of articles related to CAM. It encourages methodological pluralism, recognising the complexity of research in the field.