The best medicine is to teach people how not to need it

Complementary versus alternative therapy – which is best?  Doctors have a love hate relationship with complementary and alternatives medicines (CAMs). Certainly most do not want alternative therapists to darken their surgery doors!

Their stance is a fair one. Namely, that their years of training, coupled with the use of proven drugs and high-tech medical procedures should not be undermined by relatively untrained and unregulated therapists using unproven treatments.

However, modernists in the medical profession are taking a more social medicine stance on natural healthcare, not only providing space within their surgeries for complementary therapists, but making referrals. After all, why dose-up a stressed patient with dugs if a few lifestyle changes, coupled maybe with some mindfulness training, can get the same result quicker and cheaper? Likewise, there is no merit in clogging up hospitals with Type 2 diabetics, when they can self-cure with a few lifestyle changes.

NICE and the NHS now recommends numerous complementary therapies, and yet CAMs are still treated as either an irritant or a threat by many frontline medics. Last week a dentalphobiac asked a Tonic therapist to accompany her to a dental surgery to administer relaxation prior to a tooth extraction. The dentist refused permission. The unspoken explanation was that having a hypnotherapist present inferred that the dentist would cause pain, thus undermining his reputation. Shame he put his interests before of those of his fearful patient.

To try and improve the working relationship between the two healthcare disciplines, the following are responses to the most common moans made by therapy sceptics …

Many alternative therapies are dangerous

Agreed. They are not only dangerous, they can kill. This was shown this year by Gambia’s former leader, Yahya Jammeh who forced HIV patients to use his herbal cures; they died.

Occult, mysticism & lucky charm cures take medicine back to the Dark Ages.

Agreed. At best many of these therapies rely on faith healing, while others range from sick-inducing nonsense which literally ‘takes the piss’ out of therapy (as reviewed in our previous Posting), to pseudo medical potions peddled by snake oil salesmen offering cures for cancer (alarm bells should ring when you read that claim!). Others are medically harmless, such as crystal healing and aura readings, but that does not excuse the fact that they take advantage of people who are vulnerable.

So why do hypnotherapists think they are superior?

Alternative therapy is different from complementary therapy. The clue is in the names. Alternative therapists tell their patients to stop their existing medication and commit entirely to a treatment unapproved by mainstream medicine. The dangers are obvious.

In comparison, a complementary therapy works alongside NHS medical care, safely embedded within patients’ healthcare programmes with the approval of doctors (This is called integrated or integrative medicine). Thus, if you have any ailment ranging from arthritis and crohn’s disease, to  Alzheimer’s and back pain, ask your doctor for complementary therapy options.

Why your dislike of pharmaceutical drugs?

Not so much dislike as a healthy wariness.  The definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results’ and yet doctors keep on prescribing drugs which too often have no long term benefit and potentially are addictive. And even if they do work, at best they will only mask the symptom. In comparison, hypnotherapy sets out to identify the cause.  Thus if you can’t sleep, suffer from bad nerves, IBS or chronic pain, your doctor will willing prescribe a pot of pills, while a hypnotherapist will ask ‘why’ you are ill and then tackle the root cause.

Therapies are only good for minor issues like managing anxiety.

Hardly minor issues! But if it is meant that we are only good for minor mental problems, then deep brain and plastic surgeons, let alone anaesthetists, are being insulted. Some surgeons even regard hypnosis as the new anaesthetic (N.B. This is ironic as the medical profession initially banned anaesthetics as pain was perceived as part of the cure; these were the same surgeons who refused to wash their hands between operations!)

There is no proof that complementary therapies work

It is true that, like you, we have failures. There is no single cure-all therapy that works for everyone. But in the case of hypnotherapy, massage, meditation, NLP and the alike, there is no recorded case of these treatments causing harm. So unlike mainstream medicine, there is no medical risk.

Potentially you are charging for something that doesn’t work – do you offer a money back guarantee?

Is the same question asked of a surgeon working in a private hospital? However, our sister consultancy – the tonicclinic – sets the bar higher as its therapists only charge by results. Will private doctors follow their lead!

It is immoral to offer hope where there is none

There is nothing wrong in doing everything possible to fight for life and yet this ethical dilemma is often debated at the tonicclinic, which works with people diagnosed with terminal conditions. “Just because the NHS can do no more, does not mean everyone else is powerless,” explains one of our therapists.  “And who will live longer – the patient who accepts the diagnosis of only having six months to live, or the one who is determined to prove his doctor wrong and go down with all guns blazing?

So what we do is empower patients to take back control of their lives, changing the resignation of death to the will to live.

Another criticism is that with little time left, it would be better to invest both it and your money in more fun things, such as an around the world holiday. It is a gamble, but if the alternative is spending your remaining days paying for hospice care ….

Complementary therapists are unregulated and have no formal training

Conceded.  There is no common therapy-wide training, but there are recognised qualifications and Government monitoring, such as the CNHC in which all Tonic therapists are enrolled.

In summary, never believe all you read and always seek your doctor’s guidance before trying any new therapy. Happy health.

8 thoughts on “The best medicine is to teach people how not to need it

  1. Chrissy T (doctor retired) says:

    You underplay the use of these therapies to treat mental health. There is not much scientific evidence to say they can help treat mental illness, but many of my patients do find them useful, especially dealing with side effects of medication and symptoms of mental illness.

  2. Jon Itoje says:

    When considering CAM treatments be skeptical with an open mind. Do your own risk evaluation using info from as many and varied resources as possible. But dismiss ‘evidence’ based on animal tests – especially mice! Instead look for high-quality clinical studies; these large, controlled and randomised trials are published in peer-reviewed journals — journals that only publish articles reviewed by independent experts.
    Undoubtedly talk to your doctor about your decision especially if you take medications or have chronic health problems.

  3. Will Carpenter Snr says:

    Quacks is the word you are looking for. All therapies should be judged by the same high standard of proof as demanded in mainstream medicine. If not, the public will continue to be conned by so called ‘healers’ who ask us to believe in them rather than in the science that fails to support their claims. And this trickery happens when they are their most vulnerable and most willing to spend whatever it takes for the promise of a cure.
    In comparison, and just for the record I have done a search on tonicclinic.com and am unable to find any negative comment. No idea if it does good, but its credentials as a complementary therapy monitored by real doctors does seem to stand up.

    • Sally-Anne (Client 78) says:

      Although there are many accounts of the efficacy of alternative cancer treatments, not one has been demonstrated to work in a clinical trial.

  4. Wally says:

    I am against Governments regulating what we put in our own bodies. There is such a thing as human error and I find that too often, those in charge of such regulation are not the ones doing the research, but just pen-pushers in charge of making decisions. Think about the campaign to promote formula over breast milk.

  5. Zen-man says:

    Making outrageous claims for alternative medicine is considered health fraud, except in the field of homeopathy. Call a spade a spade I say.

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