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Editorial Issue 50

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 50 - March 2000

Given the ongoing somewhat ferocious scrutiny regarding the safety of the many diverse therapies within Complementary Medicine – Aromatherapy, Nutrition, Herbal Medicine – to name a few, one would think that patients were dropping like flies, succumbing to the "dangers" of natural medicine.

This is patently not the case. Apart from a few very sad incidents where a person suffers diarrhoea from ingesting a vitamin or herbal supplement, suffers from the incorrect insertion of an acupuncture needle, or reacts to an essential oil applied neat rather than diluted, the majority of side effects from natural medicine are neither life-threatening nor numerous.

This is patently not the case with conventional allopathic medicine, where, according to Lois Rogers of the Sunday Times, 40,000 people die every year in the UK due to medical mishaps – four times more deaths than from all other types of accident, with a further 280,000 people suffering from non-fatal drug-prescribing errors, overdoses and infections. The results of a pilot study led by Charles Vincent from University College London indicate that one in 14 patients suffers some type of adverse event – an error of diagnosis, an error during the operation (i.e. removing the wrong, healthy kidney from a pensioner) or an adverse drug reaction.

In the US, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine has revealed that medical errors in hospitals were one of the leading causes of death and injury in the US, with 44,000-98,000 people dying every year, more than the number of fatalities from highway accidents, breast cancer or AIDS. Furthermore, even more people die from mistakes in health care settings other than hospitals, such as day-surgery, outpatient clinics, retail pharmacies, nursing homes and home care. From medication errors alone, more than 7,000 Americans die every year, more than those who die from injuries in the workplace.

With this appalling record from conventional medical treatment, one would think that the medical profession would be embracing the use of preventive medicine and safer, less invasive treatments used by practitioners of complementary medicine.

Not on your life! As reported in the January 2000 issue of Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, the physician Dr Robert Sinaiko, MD, allergy specialist in practise for some 30 years has been placed on probation for 5 years by the Medical Board of California and will have his licence to practice revoked unless he "admits" that the disorders he treats, including chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity and candidiasis, don't exist! Read the full details of this case on the website Shades of George Orwell's 1984 or what??

Then read June Butlin's article Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and NADH (43 references) and judge whether you consider that chronic fatigue syndrome exists or not. How astonishing that supposedly learned American physicians who govern the practice of medicine can conclude that tens of thousands of people whose lives have been made a misery from chronic fatigue are simply making it up or malingering.

With more people visiting alternative practitioners than conventional physicians (see Wagner et al, Research Updates this issue, page 38), reporting moderate effectiveness and few side effects from substances such as St John's Wort, is it any wonder that many people prefer natural medicines rather than fairly powerful drugs (antidepressants) or harmful treatments (electroconvulsive therapy) recommended for depression?

Disappointingly, despite the huge volume of literature documenting the importance of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of cancer (see also, in a recent survey in the Netherlands, only 13% of the cancer patients were following a cancer diet. (See Van Dam in Cancer Research Updates, page 39.)

Most doctors know very little about the clinical use of or the research evidence regarding nutrition and cancer. Worse, medical practitioners are not allowed to treat cancer with diet; they must follow "best practice" guidelines; treatments usually include a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.

I cannot envisage a more appalling situation, with people being kept alive longer, but in usually worse health from the drugs and toxic medical treatments they receive from the medical profession, and doctors being forbidden to use safer, preventive and less invasive treatments.

Perhaps the answer will have to come from patients themselves, lobbying their parliamentary representatives to put natural medicines at the heart of the health care system.


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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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