Why can’t I have freedom of choice when it comes to my own health?

Natural medicine is continually being attacked and yet the public continues to use it – with more and more converts each year. Currently around 20million people each year, in the UK, use some form of natural medicine.

If so many people want to use it and claim that it has benefits for their health, why is it that so many in the mainstream medical world are vehemently opposed to it?

No one is forced to use natural medicine but I do feel a though we are being forced to use orthodox medicine. Why, as an individual, can’t I be allowed to make my own choices based on my belief systems and my personal experience?

It’s sometimes claimed that we need to be protected from our own ignorance and these remedies and treatments can be deadly! That may be true in some cases – although personally I have never come across any evidence of people being killed by the side effects of natural medicine – however it’s certainly not true that we all need constant protection from our own ignorance. And its 100% true that the pharmaceutical companies and GPs do not get it right every time. 1200 people in the UK each year are killed as a direct result of the side effects of, or the incorrect prescription of, orthodox drugs. Around 10% of all hospital beds in the UK are being used by people who are there as a result of the ill effects of prescribed drugs. None are being used by people suffering any ill effects of natural medicine.

So as an individual, with rights over my own health and life, why can’t I choose what I want to use without legislation from Europe trying to stop me, without ill informed vested interests shouting at me and without the media trying to scare me to death?

I can practice my chosen faith and sexuality without prejudice in the UK – so why can’t I practice my own health choices without prejudice?

I recently chaired the first “Hygeia Symposium –Towards a Natural Health Service” which took place in London on 26th January. It was convened by renowned Naturopath Dr Harald Gaier The panellists alongside Dr Gaier were; Professor George Lewith from the Integrated Medicine Research Group at the University of Southampton; Stan Switala, the MSc research supervisor at the Northern College of Acupuncture, natural medicine practitioner and author; Roger Newman Turner, founding trustee of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, author and naturopathic practitioner; Chris Burley naturopathic practitioner and a member of the executive council of the General Council and Register of Naturopaths; and Dr Robert Verkerk founder and Executive and Scientific Director of the Alliance for Natural Health.

The presentations from the panellists covered a range of topics with particular emphasis on the research into , the evidence for, and the efficacy of, natural medicine. It was a thought provoking discussion and highlighted some of the difficulties of bringing natural medicine into the mainstream. If this is an area that interests you then I would recommend ordering a DVD of the evening, which is available from http://www.naturopathy.org.uk/hygeia.asp .

In addition interviews with, and articles by, some of the panellists can be found at http://www.passionforfreshideas.com

Whatever your view of natural medicine it’s difficult to argue against freedom of choice. And it’s this freedom of choice that the Hygeia Symposium wants to protect.

Sadly the natural medicine community can be its own worst enemy. Like many other diverse groups of people there is in-fighting and disagreement about the way forward, there is a lack of coordinated and clear communication to consumers, and most worrying of all – there is massive apathy. In fairness, most practitioners choose their career because they want to help people, not because they want to fight governments, pharmaceutical companies, orthodox medicine and the media! But if they are to continue helping people and offering patients a choice then there needs to be a coherent front, a clear message and ground swell of action … before it’s too late.

Dr Gaier’s Hygeia Symposium is a fantastic vehicle, Dr Verkerk’s Alliance for Natural Health is doing a sterling job in the courts. So if you believe in freedom of choice then you need to ask yourself “what am I doing to help protect that freedom?”

There are lots of ways you can help…
1) Support the Hygeia Symposium through donation, or offering your time, or by offering to host and promote an event.
2) Donate to the ANH – they need an additional £40k for the current court case
3) Write to your MEP, your MP and the media asking them to protect your freedom of choice
4) If you use Natural Medicine – tell other people about how it helps you. Don’t force it on them, just tell them about your personal experiences

Peter Hain MP, when he was Northern Ireland Secretary, ran a trial looking at the impact of incorporating natural medicine into GP practices. The results: 65% of GPs said the health of their patients had improved, the number of recurring visits had dropped, and the use of medication and other NHS services had reduced. So natural medicine saved time, saved money and improved health. So why isn’t it being offered in GP surgeries and NHS hospitals across the UK? (You can read more about this trial here )

If I get run over by a car please take me to the nearest hospital of well trained surgeons and doctors.

If I get hayfever again this year – please give me my homeopathic remedies and don’t bother offering me an anti-histamine; I won’t need it as my natural medication works just fine thank you!

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