It was good to see practitioners and doctors receiving healing from spiritual healers and shiatsu practitioners.

At our conference on Integrated Medicine In Primary Care at the Post Graduate Medical Centre in Brighton, last Saturday.

The aim of the conference was to demonstrate the benefits of complementary medicine in primary care.

Practitioners were offered an opportunity to share knowledge and information on the benefits of complementary medicines such as homeopathy, herbal medicine, ayurvedic medicine, osteopathy, acupuncture, and nutrition in the treatment of common conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic neck and back problems, irritable bowel disease and stress.

The theme of the conference was Humanising Healthcare. Doctors, complementary practitioners and policy makers joined in the discussions on how we could work together to provide holistic, compassionate care to the patients.

Practitioners need to look after themselves, too, to become aware of their own wellbeing and emotional state so they can empathise with their patients.

They also need to protect themselves from becoming emotionally affected or depressed while helping patients recover from grief and illness.

Michael Fox, chief executive of the Foundation of Integrated Medicine, highlighted some of the issues raised by the House of Lords Select Committee on Complementary And Alternative Medicine.

While complementary medicines such as homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and herbal medicine (including ayurvedic) have a well-established, professionally-organised structure and recognised system of training, many of the 256 other complementary therapy organisations, often have poor regulation of standards of training and practice.

The Select Committee concluded that better regulation of complementary therapies was essential and stressed the importance of doctors becoming familiar with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

The Foundation of Integrated Medicine exists to help with funding for research into complementary medicine and to act as a source of reliable information and effective guidance for the public and doctors as to what works and what does not.

While it is highly desirable that complementary medicine therapies are made available under the NHS, sadly, the current pressures of funding for hospital beds and mainstream primary care may not allow this to happen for a while.

Until then, my advice is we take our health in our own hands and learn some simple techniques such as Indian head massage, relaxation breathing and stress management.