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Editorial Issue 87

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 87 - April 2003

Call me simpleminded, but my idea of optimum healthcare has always been that, depending on the severity and nature of the medical problem, the most appropriate treatment(s) should be used, on a continuum from high-tech emergency medicine to low-tech and non-invasive modalities such as healing, homeopathy, etc.

In other words, if a patient is about to die of septicaemia or meningitis, appendicitis or a gangrenous infection, lightening-quick, life-saving medicine is essential for survival. This is perhaps not the time to rely on flower essences or acupuncture and the like, except as a support adjunct to the main, probably invasive and drastic procedures necessary to keep the patient alive.

On the other hand, if the patient is suffering from a non-life threatening chronic condition such as eczema, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome or back pain, then there is a wide array of available therapies, which, depending on the patient's and practitioner's preferences, could be applied. These could entail nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, massage, osteopathy or craniosacral therapy, as a small example of therapeutic choices. Or even dental treatment; please read Save Your Wisdom Teeth by Mr Amir (see page 31), who is achieving remarkable results with long-standing sufferers of ME and other conditions with dental re-alignment techniques.

Common sense combined with an all-rounded knowledge of the vast panoply of alternative and conventional medicine should result in effective and prioritized treatments to suit the medical situation.

However, that is definitely not the reality in our healthcare system. The truth is that, in the main, medically trained practitioners are highly educated in Western, drug-based and high-tech medicine and trained hardly at all in any complementary therapies. When you visit your GP about a rash, he or she will be able to diagnose a fungal infection; however, the only treatment he or she will usually be able to recommend will be an antifungal drug. The GP won't know about the fungicidal properties of essential oils such as Tea Tree or lavender, nor those of herbs such as garlic, chamomile, goldenseal and others. Pity!

So, you visit your medical practitioner with a rash, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.; your practitioner is highly qualified to diagnose your problem, but doesn't know any treatments apart from antibiotics, drugs, or medical procedures – surgery, laser treatment, etc.

As a result the general public is being overly medicated and prescribed with antibiotic and steroid drugs, which have potent side effects, leading to a worsening of the antibiotic resistance problem. And the drug approach needn't have been the first treatment used, which could have been a effective but harmless herb or oil.

When I visit my GP, it is for a diagnosis. Then I have to work very hard at researching and seeking out the sort of non-drug treatment which will be effective yet without serious side effects. Then I have to do the necessary leg work to visit and submit to treatment from complementary therapists, many of whom are working in isolation, far away from GPs and the NHS, where they can't benefit from the expertise and support in diagnosis and medical knowledge which exists in the NHS.

This brings me to another major issue, after the non-knowledge of medical practitioners about any therapies apart from drugs, which is the fragmentation of the knowledge about all the complementary therapies among all the different therapies themselves. Just as medical doctors have become specialized, apart from GPs, the majority of complementary practitioners practise one, or at most several therapies. Thus, an aromatherapist might also practise reflexology or massage, or a nutritionist might also be a herbalist; however, it would be highly unusual, if not impossible for an Ayurvedic practitioner (who would know about herbal medicine and massage) to simultaneously practise Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, let alone aromatherapy.

Nor would we want complementary practitioners to dabble in too many disciplines. As the old saying goes "Jack of all trades and master of none".

I don't expect every practitioner to be a fountain of knowledge about every complementary discipline. I don't even expect every GP to know about every medical speciality. But, what we have at the moment are GPs who generally understand about medicine and nothing else, and complementary practitioners who are generally qualified in their own discipline but don't necessarily understand the other complementary options available to patients.

I guess that what I am arriving at, in a highly roundabout fashion is that for a truly integrated healthcare system for patients, we need an integrated knowledge base for complementary therapy, perhaps a kind of complementary GP, as well as a medical GP.


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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 27+ 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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