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Millennial Medicine

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Conventional medicine can learn from alternative medicine how to "gentle" its approach by focusing on the patient's inherent capacity for self-healin.

After examining every modern medical modality, the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen to promote traditional Chinese medicine worldwide to meet the health care needs of the 21st century. In the US, the National Institute of Health's (NIH) Office of Alternative Medicine is overseeing 10 federally-funded centres exploring alternative treatments for cancer, HIV and chronic pain.

As recently as 1993, a NIH survey found that Americans still regarded conventional medicine as the "one true medical profession." But by 1997, a follow-up poll by David Eisenberg, MD, found that more Americans see complementary care-givers than conventional physicians!

Half the US population spends $30 billion Cdn a year on herbal remedies, massage, megavitamins and other complementary therapies to prevent illness, treat back and neck pain, anxiety, arthritis and headaches. One million Americans were availing themselves of acupuncture when a panel of NIH experts recommended its integration into standard US medical practice. (The 4,600 year-old Chinese therapy was found to have "fewer side effects" and be "less invasive" than conventional western medicine.)

Modern Medicine Comes of Age

Full capitulation came late in 1998, when a half-dozen scientific studies promoting alternative treatments appeared in a landmark issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. The editors said they had to do it. Doctors were demanding information because more and more of their patients were trying alternative remedies.

"It appears that complementary and alternative medicine has again 'come of age,'" the American Medical Association declared, referring to the fact that chiropractic, naturopathic and osteopathic medicine were primary healing arts in the late 1800s.

Today, two-thirds of American medical schools offer courses in the mind-body connection, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, natural supplements, herbs and other complementary therapies. Five homeopathic hospitals are operated by the British National Service in the United Kingdom. This emerging health paradigm promotes patient empowerment and "self-care."

In the US, Harvard Business School's Regina Herzlinger describes a "much smarter, much more seasoned consumer" insisting on "convenience and mastery" in this era of self-help health.

The Oxford Health Plan now covers chiropractic, acupuncture and naturopathy treatments for its 1.5 million members. American Western's Wellness plan costs policy-holders 20 per cent less than conventional insurance plans. Prevention Plus covers acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, hypnotherapy, nutritional counsling and chelation.

This conflicts with Canada where both government sponsored medicare and provincial colleges of physicians and surgeons oppose "complementary" health care by using every possible means: in medical schools, hospitals, private practice and medical coverage.

Canadian governments should take note. Experts estimate that more than half of medical expenditures and 37 percent of all visits to doctors can be eliminated if unnecessary and dangerous procedures are abandoned in favour of proven natural therapies.

Complementary medicine's biggest test will come as its mainstream acceptance and burgeoning popularity run head-on into Codex, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the pharmaceutical cabal.

Meeting in secret, the WTO's three-man corporate tribunal has over-ruled Canadian and US laws forbidding import of a toxic gasoline additive. Another unappealable WTO decision has found that the European Union cannot refuse to accept US beef known to contain carcinogenic growth hormones. Pending "unfair trade practice" rulings may also see food labelling struck down worldwide.

Despite these setbacks, the stampede to "self-health" has just begun.

Only in America

Our neighbours to the south are making strides in integrating alternative health care into mainstream medicine. That, unfortunately, is not the case in Canada. There's still a militant group of "guardians of health" trying to convince the public that tried and true natural remedies, including herbs and supplements, are actually dangerous for you. Their goal is to brainwash consumers into thinking that drugs are the way to go anything different should be feared.

Just take a look at their recent attack on healthwatcher.net. Dr Terry Polevoy, webmaster, is criticizing the Canadian government for trying to take a baby step forward in the acceptance of alternative medicine.

In May 2000, Sheila Copps, member of parliament for Hamilton East, together with Alan Rock, Minister of Health, announced the creation of the $100 million Institute of Comprehensive Medicine in downtown Hamilton. The Institute will amalgamate research into western medicine with eastern treatments and investigate the role that lifestyle and diet play in keeping Canadians healthy. This is coming at a time when 50 per cent of Canadians are using some form of alternative therapy.

Polevoy is condemning the creation of this innovative school citing that billions of dollars a year are being spent by victims of diet and health fraud and the creation of the centre will add more fuel to the fire. He feels that the money should be better spent in providing research funding to Canadian physicians and preventing "brain drain" or petitioning politicians to say no to "quackery" despite overwhelming proof that more and more Canadians are turning to alternative remedies.

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