Uh-Oh: UK To Ban Teaching Of Life-Extending, Patient-Driven Complementary Medicine
Photo: Controversialist Anna Tyzack says alternative treatments put her on the right track as she exercised, gave up caffeine addiction, and started to realize health was part of a system not just some pill.
27 programs have been shut down–The glorious UK, once a pioneer, now under a right-wing government says things like the benefits of stress-reducing acupuncture( or regular) massage, not putting poisons or allergy-inducing foods in one’s body, Osteopathic adjustment massage and ending self-defeating habits–or those seeking to e.g. research the remedies of Chinese and tribal systems– to induce healing long accepted in the US are not ‘evidence-based’ and will be banned from universities–so say the officials whose ‘model’ health system is enmeshed in a scandal as coercive government ‘evidence-based doctors’–woefully undertrained by US standards to save money– misdiagnose fatal cancers as blemishes, prescribe aspirin for raging infections, and euthanize troublesome oldsters who dare to complain. Hmmm…dare we suggest–a user-driven, voluntary, universal, endowment based, free to the poor automatic system with choice of providers run by unions as one possibility?…(See down our wall scientific knowledge by public in UK, bless ‘em) …Let the fur fly high! The debate:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9051103/Complementary-medicine-courses-in-universities-how-I-beat-the-varsity-quacks.html vs http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/alternativemedicine/9025879/Complementary-medicine-does-it-work.html and one example of NHS blundering: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9087301/Rushed-NHS-helpline-roll-out-risks-endangering-patients-warns-BMA.html NB–We’re as dismayed by quacks as anyone, but open information and resarch–not academic censorship–is the best approach.
“Quackish” degree courses, such as aromatherapy, reflexology and acupuncture, are being scrapped at many universities. Homoeopathy has been dropped altogether, due to declining student applications and campaigns by scientists against non-evidence based forms of medicine.
While many taxpayers will be pleased their money is no longer being spent teaching students the benefits of yin energy or any other subject for which there is no clinical evidence, the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) insists the course closures are “very disappointing”.
“A significant number of people find complementary health therapies to be very helpful; it would be a shame if there were no trained practitioners to treat them,” says Maggy Wallace, chair of the CNHC.
“It’s arrogant not to accept an individual’s opinion as evidence that a certain treatment has benefited them.”
In many respects I agree with her. Like almost all complementary health patients, I found my way to alternative therapies when prescription drugs had failed to work; in my case, several courses of antibiotics for a kidney infection.
My practitioner, Sam Kankanamge, uses a combination of cranial osteopathy, acupuncture and yoga to treat headaches, back pain, migraines and kidney infections, all of which are, he says, “city related ailments” – the side effects of living a fast-paced, working life.
I wouldn’t have said I was stressed at the time or particularly run down, I was simply living the same the same deskbound lifestyle as most people working in London. I was relying on coffee to wake me up, alcohol to relax after work and, up until then, pain killers and antibiotics when I got ill. But according to Kankanamge, commuting, late nights and sitting at a desk, are enough to bring on kidney infections, and very often antibiotics won’t help.
I was as sceptical as the next person about complementary medicine. There is limited scientific evidence to support the theories or efficacy of osteopathy. Acupuncture is backed by enough clinical evidence that suggests it is an effective treatment for headaches and chronic back pain to remain as a degree-level subject, but doctors are still divided over its effects.
But after eight months of on-and-off illness, and pain, I was desperate. “You don’t have to believe in my treatment it for it to work, but you have to be open to it,” Kankanamge said. According to Wallace, doctors and scientists are wrong to adopt an “if it isn’t proven, it doesn’t exist” approach to complementary healing techniques. “It’s ridiculous given how much of conventional medicine started off in this way,” she says. “There should be a pragmatic approach to ‘evidence’ with less emphasis on clinical trials that can’t be successfully applied to complementary health.”
Kankanamge first examined my back while I was standing up, pushing me from side to side a couple of times and explained right then that the pain I was feeling was due to a low grade chronic infection which had resulted in fluid congestion within the right kidney and the surrounding tissues. He was confident that he would be able to cure me by using cranial osteopathy and acupuncture to “realign the fluid mechanics around the kidney and reestablish its natural movement, therefore helping to resolve the infection”.
Osteopathy was developed in America in the late 1800s by Andrew Still, a doctor who lost faith in conventional medicine. The theory behind it is that the body can heal itself through the proper alignment of the bones, joints blood vessels and nerves. “Cranial osteopathy is a very subtle and gentle manipulating technique to adjust the necessary structures naturally,” Kankanamge explains. “It’s an effective way of treating the whole body as it allows it to make its own adjustments and realignment.” And when it’s combined with acupuncture, which adjusts the body’s energy flow into healthier patterns, it is even more effective, he says.
I lay on my back feeling like a pin cushion as he stuck acupuncture needles in my wrist, ankle, and scalp and forehead. My body became heavy; according to Kankanamge, this state of deep relaxation optimises organ functionality and increases resilience to infection. Very gently he moved my arms and legs, and held his hand beneath my kidney. It felt at times as if hot air was blasting over my body, and at one point I was sure needles were digging in to my right kidney, even though they weren’t anywhere near it. The session lasted about 45 minutes. I felt rejuvenated afterwards – although from a cynic’s point of view this could have been the result of a lie-down in my lunch break.
Still, it was enough to inspire me to persevere with the treatment. Kankanamge prescribed a strict detox programme for two weeks, eliminating all stimulants from my diet – coffee, alcohol and salty foods which dehydrate the body and “stress out” the organs – and advised I increase my water intake. I didn’t manage to stick to the detox completely but when I returned to Kankanamge two weeks later, the pain in my kidney had almost vanished. After a couple more treatments the symptoms had cleared up entirely and, even more incredibly, the jaw-clenching migraines I’d been suffering from for the past two years had disappeared as well.
Kankanamge wasn’t surprised by the results. “In stressful situations our adrenal glands kick in to action. Our kidneys subsequently struggle to process the by-products of this adrenaline and the excess toxins get stored. By healing the kidney we have allowed the body the capacity to heal itself.”
The lack of scientific evidence is enough to make many people doubt Kankanamge’s style of holistic treatment. A doctor I spoke to argued that it’s his prescribed detox that cures you rather than anything hands-on. I don’t believe this to be true, but even if this was, Kankanamge’s treatment had worked, unlike conventional medicine.
Over the past 20 years Kankanamge has developed a following with city workers and professionals who, he says, almost always report back they are suffering less pain within 48 hours of treatment and can expect to see a 40 per cent to 50 per cent improvement within two weeks. “If you need evidence, my patients are evidence in themselves,” he says.
I haven’t gone as far as to go on one of Kankanamge’s yoga courses or his retreats to Ibiza and Sri Lanka – yet – but as I began to feel better, I did become more interested in leading a healthier lifestyle.
According to Kankanamge, this shift of consciousness is quite common once you’ve embarked down the complementary route. “When you discover for yourself that the way you feel and your moods are completely related to your lifestyle it makes sense to adjust the way you live,” he says. “The physical ailments my patients come to see me with originally are only the first layer.”
- Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council www.cnhc.org.uk
- Sessions with Sam Kankanamge at the Breath of Life Clinic cost from £70. Breath of Life Clinic: 020 7486 3373; www.breathoflifeclinic.co.uk