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Editorial Issue 125

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 125 - July 2006

My father died at the end of 2005, just prior to the New Year. The immediate cause of his death was the inability of his diabetic leg ulcers to heal; these had become infected and gangrenous. The medical team were unable to fight the infection with intravenous antibiotics, and the family and medical team decided, upon medical and quality of life grounds, that amputation was not an option. There were many other health problems affecting my father's poor quality of life, including Parkinson's Disease, strokes which had left him unable to walk, and an increasing inability to swallow; however the gangrenous leg ulcers were the ultimate, immediate cause of my father dying.

My father died as there were no other options available at this hospital, such as the low level laser therapy (LLLT) medical devices discussed in the cover story of this issue (see page 23), which has been clinically demonstrated to be effective in healing leg ulcers.

We all hope that in a similar position, lying helpless and at the 'mercy' of our medical practitioners, that experienced and authoritative advocates of innovative clinical treatments would intervene and suggest 'alternative' treatments. I can't say with any certainty that LLLT would have saved my father from his ultimately fatal gangrenous leg ulcers; however, I think that the measures taken – antibiotics – were possibly not sufficiently heroic nor wide-ranging to prevent my father's death within such a short time frame.

Hence my utter exasperation and fury at the Doctors' open letter to the Times expressing their concern "about ways in which unproven or disproved treatments are being encouraged for general use in the NHS.

"We would ask you to review practices in your own trust, and to join us in representing our concerns to the Department of Health because we want patients to benefit from the best treatments available."

These individuals, including such leading lights as Professor Michael Baum and Professor Edzard Ernst, continue in an obsequious manner, especially targeting Homeopathy, which they claim "is an implausible treatment for which over a dozen systematic reviews have failed to produce convincing evidence of effectiveness." This, despite the serious criticisms regarding the flawed methodology of these systematic reviews (please see Letters PH Issue 116, October 2005).

The reasons given for their concern are budgetary – that the NHS' financial crisis, leading to job losses of more than 3000 nurses and the closure of several hospitals – is due to the money being spent on complementary therapies!!! In a BBC Radio 4 interview between Prof Michael Baum and Dr Peter Fisher, Clinical Director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (RLHH), Michael Baum proffered an estimate that the RLHH spent £5 million annually on homeopathic prescriptions. This was effectively countered by Peter Fisher who said that £5 million was in excess of their totally annual operating budget and that the amount spent on homeopathic prescriptions was less than £100,000.

It is ludicrous to suggest that complementary medicine is the reason for the NHS crisis – would that I could see such a day when health rather than disease is the focus of our healthcare system.

Martin Walker has got the analysis on this furore absolutely correctly (please see Letters, page 52):

"Every time there is an attack on alternative medicine, people write similar letters in response, defending these therapies; but always, there is a lack of analysis, historical or otherwise. This means that although the number of replies and combative responses is growing, and we are 'learning' in that sense, no one seems to be describing the supporters of orthodox medicine in their context and drawing attention to conflict of interest and vested interest. Consequently, it always looks as if these critics are serious people with important things to say, rather than shallow operators guided entirely by vested interest.

"Dr Michael Baum was a founder member of the Campaign Against Health Fraud (now called HealthWatch HealthWatch, which is linked to important US lobby groups CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation into Claims of the Paranormal) and ACSH (American Council on Science and Health), responsible for a whole serious of attacks on alternative health, CAM and especially homeopathy…

"What there should have been was a full-blooded political assault on HealthWatch and its associates, the writers of the paper and the connivance of the Lancet in its publication. Fifteen years later, alternative medicine is coming under increasing attack from industrial vested interests, but we are unfortunately responding in the same piecemeal manner. It's time that supporters of CAM and alternative medicine really did get their political act together. While environmentalists, greens, anti-corporate critics and pharmaceutical company critics have all formed political fact-gathering organizations, and write consistently about the corporate lobbies which are managing skewed news, the practitioners of Homeopathy and other valuable therapies appear utterly unable to organize against the threat they are facing."

I am as guilty as most of the complementary community in seeking to counter politically and financially motivated attacks by scientifically reasoned arguments. Perhaps it is finally time for us to wake up and get our act together.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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