Science | Should the NHS fund alternative medicine? | LS

 Added on November 4, 2013  LS Web Editor   , , , , ,

Science | Should the NHS fund alternative medicine?

Science | Should the NHS fund alternative medicine?

Firstly, I want to point out what I mean by alternative medicine. The definition of it is: any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine but is not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. Examples include but are not exclusive to: Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Ayurvedic Medicine, Naturopathy and many more. You could quite feasibly make up your own brand of alternative medicine tomorrow if you chose to.

I want to illustrate a few undeniable facts to set the scene for alternative medicine; Homeopathy normally comes in for the largest amount of criticism due in part to the levels of dilutions involved. Homeopathy is the concept that like cures like and that this effect becomes stronger at a greater dilution, it relies on the as of yet unproven belief that water has memory. A standard homeopathic remedy is 30C; this is an enormous level of dilution and needs to be given some context. If I was to drop a grain of salt into a full bath it would not be dilute enough, perhaps a pond or a lake? No not dilute enough, in fact the entire volume of water on our planet wouldn’t even cover it.

There is not an atom of active ingredient in any standard homeopathic remedies, just the ‘memory’ of one. If you are still not convinced, then ask yourself why and how do homeopathic remedies not have memory for the gallons of sewage they have passed through as well as the intended ‘medicine’?

What’s the harm though of alternative medicine if it is an effective placebo? A great deal is the short answer. Alternative medicine is often used in the place of conventional medicine and not alongside it as in complementary medicine. Recent examples of this have been the promotion of homeopathic anti-malarial kits in place of genuine anti-malarial medication. Individuals die as a result of this promotion and the NHS endorsement of pseudo science is a very dangerous development for patient’s health.

Another fundamental problem with alternative medicine is the lack of regulation, only two branches have their own governing body and the treatments they preach do not have to undergo any testing. This means side effects are unknown; furthermore it’s not even tested to see if it actually works. Wasting NHS resources on anecdotal evidence is unwise and a public injustice. Supporting this field with public money takes funding away from real medicine; that can be genuinely proven to work. It is only a very minor proportion of the NHS budget but takes money away from life saving treatments such as Herceptin for breast cancer patients. Giving it credibility will only fuel the market of deception it occupies and drain time and resources from interventions that may enhance healthcare in the future.

There is no place within the hierarchy of our healthcare service for ardent supporters of alternative medicine such as HRH Prince of Wales or our very own Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt. If alternative medicine works for you then that is brilliant. But you should not expect the taxpayers to foot the bill for something that cannot be proven and can be actively disproven to be effective. If you are in dispute of this fact then you are also in dispute of the effectiveness of any modern medicine as they undergo the same process of evaluation.

Not enough people with common sense or basic scientific knowledge are willing to stand up against this tyranny of ignorance, but hopefully with education this will change.

Jonathan Derrick 

Medicinal Herbs Continue As An Alternative To Maim Line Pharmaceuticals

Modern medicine and more importantly the pharmaceutical industry have long desired to refute the claimed benefits of consuming medicinal herbs, however, there are those who believe that the healing power of herbs live on. May it be recognized that contradicting many research studies is the fact that many herbs are used in the manufacture of today’s medicine, thereby cementing the notion that medicinal herbs can be useful in protecting and curing some illnesses.

In the early days of modern medicine, testing of a medicinal herb was based on patients use to record its effects. In a simplistic wayIf the result was positive as well as repeatable, the herb was prescribed for the particular illness for which id had been used. On the other hand, if the results were singular and its effect could not be repeated, its use was discontinued and put on a list of worthless theories.

In hindsight, many herbalists believe that requirements of the test may have been slanted. As with some conventional medicine, medicinal herbs do not have the same effect on every patient and they believe the test groupings may have been too small to accurately depict the benefit of the medicinal herb.

In most cases the taking of a medicinal herb usually shows no sign of ill effects, however, there are some natural herbs that can cause problems in humans. Therefore, as with modern medicine, any medicinal herb should be taken with caution and only in prescribed dosages given by a trained herbalist.

Herbs Have Centuries Of History On Their Side

It is commonly believed that the Chinese were the first to use any medicinal herb for treating illnesses. In fact there are medical journals that date back around 5000 years listing various known herbal medications, it has also been discovered that ancient Greece and Egypt counted the medicinal herb as an important part of health care, thousands of yeards ago. Many of the herbs they used are still being used by naturalists around the world and many are also marketed for the specific ailments for which they have been used back then.

Unfortunately, the use of medicinal herbs has been a cause of concern for many medical professionals due to the lack of control over their use in over the counter products sold in many drug stores and health stores. Owing to the lack of control in the manufacturing process of these herbal medicines, the claim is that mixing certain herbs and other natural products may cause side effects of which the consumer is unaware..

An example of one of the medicinal herbs used today is red clover, which grows wild in many parts of the country. It is claimed to have healing tendencies for skin ailments such as eczema and psoriasis as well as chronic degenerative diseases and dry cough. Unfortunately, there is little information concerning the proper dosage and application of the clover to achieve the most benefits.

Irrespective of the innumerable documented successful treatments of cases of eczema, psoriasis etc modern medicine still refuses to recognize that medicinal herbs do have healing qualities preferring to promote the products of large pharmaceutical companies instead.