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Letters to the Editor Issue 50

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 50 - March 2000

Regulation and Research – The Authors’ comments

The cartoon used to introduce the article ‘Why regulate, why research?’ (Positive Health, Issue 49) left co-authors John Wilks and I a bit confused. The cartoon seems to equate ‘nothing happening’ in health-care with the National Health Service and allopathic medicine in general (‘Nothing Happened Service’ = NHS whereas SHS ‘Something Happened Service’ is related to complementary therapy). It also could be construed, completely inaccurately, that this is the theme of the article and the views of the authors.

This could lead to the unfortunate misunderstanding that we feel that mainstream/allopathic medicine (and by association the NHS) is without useful purpose or function or even totally ineffective. Both of us feel strongly that the NHS has helped relieve the suffering of millions of people since its inception and continues to do so. Also it is important to acknowledge the thousands of people within the NHS who work very hard and efficiently, often in very difficult conditions, who are committed to helping everyone they deal with.

It is also essential to recognise the value of mainstream medicine – where would we be without dentistry for example? Similarly huge numbers of people are consistently helped by surgery and a wide variety of medications – antibiotics and cortisone alone have saved thousands of lives.

Whilst it could realistically be argued that many mainstream interventions are overused it is unhelpful to suggest that they have no useful function.

This leads us to a similar position to one which is often held by allopathic practitioners i.e. that what ‘we’ do is right and what ‘they’ do is useless.

Both of the authors have been helped considerably by mainstream medicine as well as the NHS and we both work alongside mainstream NHS practitioners as colleagues and friends.

Mainstream medicine has its faults; some drugs used are dangerous and cause serious side-effects and are of debatable benefit for example – but it has huge benefits too. Complementary medicine can be vague, flaky and of insufficient depth but it too has much to offer in ways that are usually very different from allopathic medicine.

Whilst the classical medical approach could gain much from relating to people more as individuals and trying to listen to them, so complementary therapy could develop more rapidly if it was prepared to submit its beliefs and methods to critical evaluation (from a compatible foundation).

What seems important in this potentially diverse field of health-care is to look for ways of working together productively and integrating the useful aspects of our approaches.

Mij Ferrett & John Wilks

The Artist replies…

Within the original article the phrase "something happened" as a result of complementary medicine was quoted. This was translated in the cartoon as the SHS… ‘Something Happened Service’. The implication in the article to me was that this was not the case in the health service and therefore the contrast to it of the ‘Nothing Happened Service’ was made.

No one would suggest that the NHS does not do a wonderful job.

Maybe on reflection calling the NHS the ‘Nothing Happened Service’ was unfair… but then life isn't fair is it?

It's only a cartoon, not life threatening!

Paul Davies

The Editor comments…

I admire Paul Davies’ wit and humour and feel that his cartoons contribute much to the articles he illustrates. Humour is such an important element of life, and an essential element for authors as well.

Comments Re Leon Chaitow’s Column (Issue 45 October ‘99)

Reference Leon Chaitow’s article on Integrated Medicine in your Issue 15th October which he finishes by saying “How do you see Integration?” I suggest that we should consider the integration of health care from the view of the patient. Most patients are not concerned with the philosophy of therapy; as a whole they wish to get rid of their symptoms and get on with living. This positive aim is good but it does put more responsibility on the healthcare professional to ensure that care is patient orientated.

Techniques of a therapy stem from the philosophy of that therapy interpreted by the experience and viewpoint of the practitioner. I have met a cranial osteopath who claimed that his treatment was purely mechanical and had none of this “healing nonsense”. However the majority of cranial osteopaths would, I imagine, think differently. The patient is affected by the philosophy of the therapy and how it is practised.
Ideally, integration would provide for the patient the best from the conventional and non-conventional spheres enfolded into a package to provide an improved healthcare system. What is the best? In conventional medicine the wonders of the latest surgical techniques, the hi-tech tests and equipment available to the physician, increasing emphasis on preventative health techniques and an established, and usually comfortable, framework in which to live our lives.

In non-conventional medicine the best include the tendency to treat the individual rather than the dysfunction or disease although this is not always readily apparent in some of the more mechanical therapies. There is a much lower cost of therapeutic intervention and fewer side affects than in conventional medicine. Perhaps the greatest advantage is that most non-conventional therapists and practitioners accept the principle of the treating the whole person, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

The holistic approach leads to the understanding that the disease or dysfunction originates at the higher levels before manifesting in the physical. This understanding should avoid the repetitive prescribing practised in conventional medicine, repetitive correction of lack of spinal integrity or the endless consumption of vitamin supplements. Unfortunately the background of our lives, pollution of the environment, the wholesale processing and pollution of our food, negative, social and political aspirations all present a background against which it is difficult to remain healthy for very long without the support of health care professionals.

Though money might not be the root of all evil, the pharmaceutical industry makes its money from those in ill health rather than those in good health and therefore the conventional system which it supports, together with those practitioners in non conventional medicine who are similarly orientated, places little emphasis on the prevention of illness.

Practitioners, conventional or non-conventional, would agree that one of the more important factors in the patient profile is the will to live. The will to live is closely related to an understanding of the reason for living. This aspect of health cannot be adequately appreciated, explained and encouraged without spiritual understanding which is not provided by the philosophy of the allopathic system of conventional medicines.

Most practitioners are also aware that each body of man interpenetrates and affects the others – a kick on the shin will excite an emotional response as well as a bruise on the leg, and if not controlled by the mental may initiate a spiritual problem. The emotional response might also create a blockage in the physical with a consequence adverse effect on the healing process.

The evolution of the individual and of humanity as a whole can be achieved only when the individual is at optimum health and that optimum health exists where there is a balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Therefore it is mandatory that any form of integration must be achieved under an umbrella of a holistic philosophy with practitioners working at whatever levels of intervention they are skilled to help the patient achieve a balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Anything less than this would be insufficient.

Gordon Smith

Leon Chaitow Replies…

Gordon Smith says : “Perhaps the greatest advantage [of non-conventional medicine] is that most non-conventional therapists and practitioners accept the principle of the treating the whole person, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.”

I fear that this ‘acceptance’ does not often follow through into practice. In my 40 years of clinical experience in the UK I have found the majority of therapists and practitioners, of all schools, while paying lip-service to holism, still treat their patients symptomatically. Of course many people get better despite the treatment they receive, a tribute to the amazing self-healing capacity residing in each of us.

Gordon Smith says :” The holistic approach leads to the understanding that the disease or dysfunction originates at the higher levels before manifesting in the physical.”

He and many others may accept this, but many don’t, seeing the evolution of ill health to be a natural progression as adaptation mechanisms (homeostasis) become exhausted, faced with biomechanical, biochemical or psychosocial demands.

I suggest a perfectly holistic, integrated, therapeutic intervention, aimed at restoring homeostasis, is limited to one of three choices :
1.    Reduce the adaptive load, and/or
2.    Enhance the biomechanical, biochemical, psychosocial and/or energetic functions to better handle the adaptive load, and/or
3.    Treat symptoms.

Thereafter, if the treatment choice has been appropriate, recovery is the prerogative of the body itself. ‘Appropriate treatment’ may at times be purely biomechanical, or biochemical – or it may require intervention on a more subtle energy level.

The ‘art’ of healing involves selecting treatment appropriately, and not making matters worse !

Leon Chaitow ND DO



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