A study of the literature describing research on alternative medicine showed that, in general, the research was of poor quality. Any clinical effect of kinesiology had not been documented. Only few studies on reflexology had been controlled. Several controlled studies on healing showed significant effect, mainly in patients with psychosomatic disorders, or when the patient had great faith in the healer. Acupuncture seems to be effective against nausea, in patients with chronic pain and in patients who have had stroke. The data do not support the claim that acupuncture is effective for asthma or addiction. In the case of homeopathy the evidence from clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw a definite conclusion, for example, is it better than placebo? The majority of studies seems to disregard the principle of homeopathy, i.e. that the treatment should be individualised. Even if the documented effect of alternative medicine is not convincing, the effect is favourable empirically and may in itself be sufficient to give practitioners of alternative medicine an authorization. The term "alternative medicine" should be replaced by "complementary medicine".