Fringe Medicine. Brian Inglis. Faber.

Inglis has written the wrong book for his purpose. It is unlikely ‘to cause a healthy scandal’ (Koestler) amongst doctors. For a long time those who have either despaired of orthodox medical techniques and have found relief in the fringe medical practices, or those whose mind was open on this subject, have realized that the latter were valuable in certain circumstances. This has never been the real problem which is that doctors have demanded of fringe medicine a physiological and pathological basis far more stringent than any they demand of some of their own ‘magical’ cures. The fringe medical practitioners are not up against anything so tangible as a professional conspiracy against the laity; they are faced, rather, with the doctors’ unwillingness publicly to admit that they do not understand the physiological basis of many of their own cures, at a time when the scientific basis of medicine is receiving more and more attention.

Unfortunately, the doctors are usually able to use unproven and bizarre hypotheses as a convenient stick with which to beat embarrassing facts. By contrast, a recent discovery in North Korea of another system (Kyungrak) in the body, which is held to give a scientific justification to the empirical successes of acupuncture, is the stuff of which the case for fringe medicine will have to be made. Professor Kim Bonghan has found corpuscles in the body whose position corresponds to the traditional acupuncture points. These are inter-connected by ducts whose course is similar to the meridians of acupuncture and through which flows a clear acellular fluid. The idea that there might be a system in the body which has remained undiscovered till now is extraordinary, proof of how much remains to be learnt. The pity is that even if this were shown to form a scientific basis for acupuncture, the acceptance of this technique would be delayed, while for other practices the wait will be even longer. Martin Rossdale