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Editorial Issue 39

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 39 - April 1999

Nothing infuriates me more than hearing some "expert" pontificating about the lack of research or lack of proof regarding the therapeutic efficacy of complementary medicine. These days, the radio and television are full of programmes devoted to complementary medicine, and usually, towards the end of the programme or interview, which has usually discussed some very promising results regarding the particular treatment being discussed, the standard undermining statement is uttered "but of course there is no rigorous scientific proof" of these therapies.

Regular readers know that my passion, the reason I started Positive Health, is to demonstrate in very overt fashion, the breadth of research which is ongoing about many aspects of complementary medicine. In this issue we publish a pilot study conducted by Jolanta Basnyet to research the effect of aromatherapy massage upon high blood pressure (see page 20), which like most pilot research studies, raises important questions which could be the subject of a further study. We also publish in the Research Updates section, a very nifty report of a study to discover if the physioacoustic chair, which delivers low-frequency audio waves, affects creativity, deductive thinking or heart rate (in this instance there were no significant differences, see Norlander et al, page 38).

Our automated computer search of the complementary medicine disciplines is carried out every fortnight, and we receive the mountains of paper print-outs of these thousands of published studies. The database compiled from these studies presently holds about 5000 records, just from 1993, and this isn't counting a mountain which have not yet been typed!

Of course, you may say, there are various levels of quality of clinical proof, ranging from anecdotal reports, clinical case notes, case-control studies, to the "gold-standard" randomised controlled trial (RCT), so beloved by certain purists and by the pharmaceutical industry. In this era of "evidence-based" medicine, those in the know in orthodox medicine have spilled the beans, revealing that much of which goes on within the medical profession has not been subjected to rigorous research – including procedures such as certain replacement limbs, heart surgical techniques, ventilators for premature babies (in other words, all the recent scandals gracing our television sets and newspapers these days). And even with drugs which have passed the so-called "gold-standard" of RCTs, there appears to be a nasty habit of us finding out later about life-threatening side-effects which were never reported, or were reported but were suppressed.

This is not to defend the practice of subjecting people to treatments which don't work, but merely to illuminate the reality that medicine is as much an art as a science, and that it is extremely rich to hear "experts" going on about a lack of proof regarding, say reflexology or aromatherapy or herbal medicine or homoeopathy for asthma or high blood pressure, when in fact there is an abundance of research, albeit perhaps less than perfect agreement regarding the definitive research answer.

The truth is, having read many research studies about reflexology, nutritional therapy, herbal medicine and homoeopathy for common complaints, there is very often a positive outcome for the subjects suffering from chronic ailments which had been adversely affecting their lives for many years – irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, and eczema.

If experts have an opinion or a statement to express regarding research in complementary medicine, then at the very least, it should be an accurate statement, not one which is clearly at odds with the facts. I am the author of 4 books – about germanium, vitamin C, and cancer and nutrition; each of these subjects has published research papers numbering from the hundreds to the tens of thousands. I was mystified ten years ago to hear "experts" saying that there was no research about vitamin C or nutrition and cancer; obviously these "experts" are not consulting the major international research databases.

I have long had a fantasy of heading up an international research agency which was set up specifically to fund research into complementary medicine. And I mean proper research into the effects of the quality of nutrition, diet and other therapies for serious illnesses including cancer. For at the moment, the amount of funding doled out for complementary medicine research is an exceedingly poor relation to the billions spent on the pharmaceutical approach. Dream on, girl!


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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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