CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Homeopathy touted, yoga studied, and other news

Tennis player-turned-TV presenter Annabel Croft describes how her life has been transformed by homeopathy.

The UK Telegraph reports on a tennis pro's use of homeopathic medicine:

In the commentary box, former England women's number one Annabel Croft, now a TV presenter and mother of three, will be reaching for a cocktail of remedies to see her through the tournament.... Annabel, who is reporting from Wimbledon for BBC Radio 5 Live and GMTV, has been taking homeopathic medicine in advance of the competition to prepare for whatever comes her way this week.

But her first encounter with homeopathy - a form of complementary treatment based on the premise that tiny quantities of certain substances can stimulate the body's natural forces of recovery - came in rather more dramatic circumstances.

In 2003, Annabel, now 42, began suffering throbbing pains on her lower left-hand side. The pain was sometimes so intense that, on several occasions, it caused her to faint. At one point, her daughter Amber, now 15, was so frightened she was on the verge of calling an ambulance.

After referral from a GP, an ultrasound scan from a private doctor showed that Annabel had developed a cyst on her left ovary. While ovarian cysts - fluid-filled sacs - are common and usually painless, if they swell, they can cause acute pain and may need to be removed. Annabel's pain was "unbearable", she says, and her GP thought she would need an operation.

When cysts become a serious problem, they fall into three types. According to the NHS Choices, an online compendium from the health service, if a cyst is growing on a stem from an ovary, the stem can become twisted. This stops the blood supply, causing severe discomfort in the lower abdomen. Alternatively, it may burst, with very painful results. The effects you feel depend on what the cyst contained, whether it is infected and if there is any bleeding. Lastly, occasionally, a cyst is an early form of ovarian cancer. However, about 95 per cent are non-cancerous.

When Annabel mentioned her cyst to a friend, she was advised to see local homeopath Hilery Dorrian, but was sceptical. "I'd grown up believing diseases were out there waiting to get us. When I saw Hilery, I was astonished to see my ideas of health turned on their head. She explained to me that homeopathy treats the real causes of illness in the body, not just the symptoms - as conventional medicine does. The whole concept made so much sense to me. It was a huge turning point.

"Hilery didn't perform a physical examination. Instead, she asked me about my background, my personality, my emotions, what made me stressed - even my parents' health. She constructed a picture of me and gave me a remedy made up exactly to treat my left ovary."

Homeopathic remedies can be taken in several ways, the most traditional being to place small white pillules - pin-head-sized sucrose pills containing an active ingredient diluted down to microscopic quantities - under the tongue, several times a day. They can be dissolved in warm water if preferred, and creams and tinctures containing the key ingredients are also available.

Annabel left Dorrain's homeopathy centre with an open mind, but not expecting a miracle. However, after taking the prescribed pillules, her cyst gradually became less painful; the throbbing stopped; and she never went back to her GP. She is convinced that the homeopathic remedies she took enhanced and perhaps speeded up the healing process.

NCCAM has a big study plan for yoga:

NCCAM and NIH is currently researching the effects of yoga for:

* Blood pressure
* Chronic low-back pain
* Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
* Depression
* Diabetes risk
* HIV
* Immune function
* Inflammatory arthritis and knee osteoarthritis
* Insomnia
* Multiple sclerosis
* Smoking cessation.

Does CAM work? Alan Gaby comments:

Recent media reports have focused on multiple government-funded studies conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in recent years, which found that certain herbal remedies and nutritional supplements were not more effective than a placebo for specific health conditions. Based on these results, many reports have made a case against natural medicine as a whole, while at the same time expressing concerns about product regulation, bias, and so on. But while some may find it reasonable to draw such conclusions from this group of studies, taking such a narrow a view ignores important points to the contrary and does a disservice to millions of people seeking safe and effective complements or alternatives to drugs and surgery.

A researcher offers a new perspective on CAM studies:

The potential contribution of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities to promote and support critical health literacy has not received substantial attention within either the health promotion or the CAM literature. This paper explores the potential of one CAM modality, shiatsu, in promoting well-being and critical health literacy.

Methods: Data are drawn from a longitudinal, 6 months observational, pragmatic study of the effects and experience of shiatsu within three European countries (Austria, Spain and the UK).

Client postal questionnaires included: advice received, changes made 6 months later, clients 'hopes'from having shiatsu and features of the client-practitioner relationship.Result: At baseline, three-quarters of clients (n=633) received advice, on exercise, diet, posture, points to work on at home or other ways of self-care. At 6 months follow-up, about four-fifths reported making changes to their lifestyle 'as a result of having shiatsu treatment', including taking more rest and relaxation or exercise, changing their diet, reducing time at work and other changes such as increased body/mind awareness and levels of confidence and resolve.

Building on the findings, an explanatory model of possible ways that a CAM therapy could contribute to health promotion is presented to guide future research, both within and beyond CAM.

Conclusion: Supporting individuals to take control of their self-care requires advice-giving within a supportive treatment context and practitioner relationship, with clients who are open to change and committed to maintaining their health. CAM modalities may have an important role to play in this endeavour.

Author: Andrew Long
Credits/Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:19

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173