Healing any doubts over 'natural' therapy|
THE House of Lords has called for the booming complementary health industry to be brought under full regulation after a 15-month inquiry uncovered an alarming lack of regulation and poor scientific research. Feature writer CATHERINE TURNER asked therapists at a natural remedies clinic in Coventry for their reaction.
HOMEOPATH Kathy Stranks believes legislation to protect the public from quack complementary practitioners is long overdue.
The Lords select committee on science and technology has recommended that natural remedy therapists should be trained and registered so they can be struck off if incompetent, like traditional GPs.
"I think it is very important, essential even, that complementary therapies are properly regulated. All practitioners have a responsibility to be well-educated," said the 52-year-old former nurse from Napton, near Rugby.
"In my opinion the best solution would be to have an umbrella group, like the British Medical Association, with separate professional bodies within that.
"It has been claimed that there is no serious evidence-based research into the effectiveness of complimentary therapies.
"But Bristol University runs a degree course in complementary medicine and they have done some fantastic research with medical professionals."
Kathy is one of eight therapists who work at Alda House, a co-operative natural therapy centre in Manor House Drive, Coventry.
It was founded in 1994 by Linda Stokes.
Therapies include acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropody, holistic facials, homeopathy, Bach Flower Remedies, chiropractic, reflexology, reiki, sports massage, stress management, therapeutic massage and Hopi ear candles.
Linda, aged 53, said: "The therapists who work here are all qualified, they are registered with a professional body and have full insurance.
"I agree with Kathy, we should have some sort of legislation.
"With this in place people who are unqualified will quickly disappear.
"My thoughts are there has been a lot of scare-mongering - complementary remedies can be just as safe and effective as conventional medicine.
"My 18-month old grandson had homeopathy to cure a bad chest.
"I do not like the word alternative therapy, I always use complementary because everything we do complements orthodox medicine."
Linda first became interested in complementary medicine after undergoing major surgery 12 years ago.
One of her friends badgered her to see a therapist - she went and was surprised by the results.
The mum-of-two from Coventry said: "It was quite amazing because in complementary medicine the main belief is that the emotions are linked to the physical.
"This lady I saw traced the problem back to when I was 10 years old when my father was killed in a road traffic accident.
"The imbalance in my energy levels had caused my resultant health problem.
"She specialised in kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movement) and was so accurate.
"My recovery greatly improved. It made me think there's got to be more to this.
"I did an aromatherapy course, a reflexology course and Bowen Technique. I also run baby and infant massage classes.
"I am one of two women in the UK qualified to teach Indian head and ear healing with Hopi candles."
Homeopathy is an entire body and soul repair
SINCE she was a child Kathy Stranks realised that she had psychic powers.
Her natural ability has led to a 40-year interest in para-psychology, a subject which she has lectured on at Birmingham and Warwick University.
Kathy, who qualified as a nurse before she had her four children, said: "People have thought I was barking mad since I was 12.
"I do simple readings - tarot, I-Ching or old-fashioned palm reading. My father was the same.
"I am quite good at understanding where people are coming from.
"I find people's hands fascinating. You can tell such a lot, even with my own friends I can see different aspects of their character I didn't know existed.
"I'm a problem solver when it comes to emotions. I have worked with Relate and so I have experience of dealing with relationship issues.
"I decided to do homeopathy, because it offers an integrated approach. It gives support on an emotional level which allows people to deal with any health problems. It's entire body and soul repair. "
Kathy studied homeopathy part-time at a college in Devon over five years after her children had grown up.
Homeopathy is based on the natural Law of Similars, discovered by German physician Samuel Hahnemann 200 years ago.
It works on the principle that disease can by cured by a medicine, which when given to healthy people produces similar symptoms to the disease.
When you go for a consultation the homeopath will spend time getting to know all about you - your lifestyle, past health, your family and about your illness.
After your case has been carefully considered you will be prescribed a remedy, usually in the form of pills which are easy to take, non toxic and not habit forming.
It occasionally happens that your symptoms may appear worse for a little time - but this is a good sign and shows Homeopathy can be used as an alternative treatment in pregnancy, for children's health problems such as ear aches, asthma and eczema.
It can also help arthritis, hypertension, hayfever allergies, menstrual and digestive disorders and emotional states such as grief, trauma, depression and anxiety.
Kathy said: "I first went to a homeopath because I had 12 tooth abscesses - and they wouldn't go away.
"The dentist said 'we'll have to take your teeth out'. But I thought there must be something else I can do.
"I found a homeopath. I took one tablet and my face went up like a balloon. I was so shocked I rang her up and she said: "It's OK, it' s a good sign".
"I found out the abscesses were caused by loose mercury floating around my mouth."
The consultation fee is pounds 45, and follow up visits are pounds 32.
COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY GUIDE
ACUPUNCTURE Small needles inserted into the body to stimulate nerve impulses
AROMATHERAPY A full body, face or back massage with up to three specially chosen plant oils. A great stress buster but also effective in combating cellulite, eczema, psoriasis, sinusitis and muscle tension.
BOWEN TECHNIQUE A simple hands-on therapy that involves gentle movement of the muscles. Suitable for sports injuries, RSI, frozen shoulder, neck and back pain.
CHIROPRACTIC Massage techniqueused to treat muscle and joint complaints HOPI EAR CANDLES Hopi ear candles are a hollow candle made from essential oils, herb and spices. A candle is placed in the ear and burnt, allowing the vapours to travel into the ear to clear any congestion of thesinuses. After the treatment you have a facial massage.
REFLEXOLOGY Foot massage, used primarily to relieve tension and improve blood supply REIK Natural Japanese healing system. The practitioner places their hands non-intrusively in a sequence of positions which cover the whole body. Suitable for all conditions whether they are physical, mental or emotional.
Treatments range from pounds 10 to pounds 45.