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Prince Charles Urges Protection for Use of Alternative Medicine December 23, 2009

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine.
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Prince Charles, heir to the throne of the U.K. and the Commonwealth realms, has urged the U.K. government to protect practitioners of alternative medicine who are under threat from new E.U. rules.

According to the London Evening Standard Prince Charles, who in 1993 established the charity Foundation for Integrated Health, which aims to bring together “mainstream medical science with the best of other traditions”, has spoken with Health Secretary Andy Burnham to press for protection for those involved in the field of alternative medicine, known also as complementary therapy. In April 2011 an E.U. directive will come in to effect preventing those who are not registered health practitioners from dispensing remedies. Prince Charles fears that such a system poses a danger to the health of the millions of people in the U.K. using, for example, herbal medicine. Many of those wanting to use alternative medicine could be forced to go “underground”, possibly exposing them to unscrupulous practitioners supplying impure products. Dr Michael Dixon is the medical director of the Foundation for Integrated Health and he has stated that no-one’s life should be put at risk because of their preference for herbal remedies. The Daily Mail quotes another representative of the Foundation as saying:

The Government is under pressure from a small but vociferous group of scientists who claim that regulation is about recognising professional status rather than protecting the public. That is absolutely wrong. If Government caves in to their demands, public health will be put at risk

Indeed the 61-year-old Prince’s attempts to secure the introduction of a system that would see herbalists, including those practicing Chinese medicine, and acupuncturists effectively enjoying the same status as the likes of physiotherapists and osteopaths have not been welcomed by the Royal College of Physicians, which believes that regulation will lend credibility to treatments that have not been proved to be effective and may do more harm than good. David Colquhoun is a Professor of Pharmacology at University College London and he explained:

Registration is a nonsense. You can’t make sensible rules for registering something until you know if it works or not. There is quite good evidence that most of it doesn’t work. This particular form of registration will give what appears to the public to be an endorsement and that is going to endanger patients. As for Charles, his behaviour is desperately unconstitutional. The monarchy doesn’t interfere in public affairs but he does it unashamedly

Reporting that £1.6  billion ($2.6 billion) is spent each year in the U.K. on alternative medicine, the London Evening Standard adds that whilst no regulation as such exists those dispensing alternative remedies do have to comply with codes that ensure they are supplying products manufactured to a certain standard. In 2008 two guides published by the Foundation for Integrated Health, that encouraged the use of alternative medicine, were criticized in a letter sent to the London Times by Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter in Southwest England, and science writer and broadcaster Simon Singh. The letter said of the guides:

They both contain numerous misleading and inaccurate claims concerning the supposed benefits of alternative medicine. The nation cannot be served by promoting ineffective and sometimes dangerous alternative treatments

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