Complementary medicine (CM), defined as health care which lies for the most part outside the mainstream of conventional medicine, is gaining popularity in Britain and elsewhere. In the UK the most prevalent therapies are manipulation (used by 36% of the population), herbalism (24%) homoeopathy (16%) and acupuncture (16%). Due to the heterogeneity of CM, it is often problematic to generalize. The debate about the usefulness of CM is often regrettably emotional, and thus unproductive. In the pursuit of a more fruitful way ahead, the following highlights some of the main arguments from both 'sides' and tries to disguise them as misconceptions.