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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 12, 2009

A Review of Side Effects and Adverse Events of Non-Drug Medicine (Nonpharmaceutical Complementary and Alternative Medicine): Psychotherapy, Mind-Body Medicine and Clinical Holistic Medicine

  • Søren Ventegodt and Joav Merrick

Background: Review of side effects of psychotherapy, bodywork (without high-energy manipulations), mind-body medicine, body-psychotherapy, sexology, clinical holistic medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).Method: We reviewed 857 records from a combined Medline/PubMed and PsycINFO search on “psychotherapy AND side effects" We also searched for “mind-body medicine," “bodywork," “body-psychotherapy," “clinical holistic medicine," “CAM," “sexology," “sexological examination," “physiotherapy," and specific side effects like “psychosis," “re-traumatization," “suicide," "hypomania," “depersonalisation," “derealization" and the drugs Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), “psilosybin," “mescaline," “Peyote" and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA) for searches. We looked for all case reports 1950-2009 and studies that included data on side effects and negative events.Results: Non-drug medicine did not have significant side effects (NNH (number needed to harm)> 18,000) and the only severe side effect was rare, brief reactive psychosis, a temporary illness with full recovery (NNH >65,000). Non-drug therapy did not significantly cause re-traumatization, implanted memories, or induction of suicide (NNH>100,000). The most intensive psychotherapy enhanced with psychotropic (hallucinogenic) drugs had serious, but rare side effects and only for the mentally ill, psychiatric patients: brief reactive psychosis (NNH=556), suicide attempts (NNH=833), and suicide (NNH=2,500).Conclusions: Non-drug (non-pharmaceutical) medicine seems to be safe even for seriously physically and mentally ill patients and, whenever efficient, therefore recommended as treatment of choice.

Published Online: 2009-5-12

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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