PROGRESS NOTED FOR ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Copyright 1997 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
Alternative medicine continues to make striking progress around the world. For example, the south Indian state of Kerala is setting the pace for a new national policy by bringing Ayurveda, the ancient system of healing, into a "barefoot doctor" system to aid the ailing public health system.
Acknowledging that India's public health system has failed, former health minister A.R. Antulay announced a policy to harness the services of India's 550,000 registered Ayurvedic practitioners.
In Kerala, for thousands of years Ayurveda has maintained a tradition of vaidyans (master physicians) who train students, who then treat patients in sylvan retreats called "ashrams." For example, it is said that at the Santhigiri Ashram, patients suffering from diseases considered chronic by allopathic doctors are routinely "cured" by Ayurvedic physicians, under the supervision of their 70-year-old Guru.
Such gurus look for the underlying spiritual causes for such "physical" diseases such as rheumatism, diabetes, epilepsy and heart conditions. They "may prescribe psychic treatments which would seem irrational in allopathy." Cures are also allegedly brought about by a wide range of herbal palliatives, oil massages, fomentations and steam baths, all delivered at a nominal cost to the patient or the state.
`WHO' ACCEPTS ALTERNATIVES
In late 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) accepted the US Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) as a collaborating institution in traditional medicine. Following that, at a meeting in Geneva on 1/22/97 the Executive Board of WHO has entered into official relations with the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) as a non-governmental organization. It is an extraordinary breakthrough for the international movement towards a broader definition of health care.
The WFC, an organization which represents national associations of chiropractors in 62 countries around the world, now joins 160 other private sector organizations in WHO's network of NGOs. According to the Independent News Service, this " is one more sign of the increasing role and acceptance of chiropractors and other alternative or complementary health care providers."
"In our work with WHO,'' said WFC President Dr. John Sweaney of Australia, "there has been a primary focus in improving the prevention and management of low-back pain, the most common cause of disability and suffering in work-age adults and an area in which the value of chiropractic manipulation or adjustment is now well accepted scientifically by the medical profession."
This year, in fact, WHO will publish a textbook on "Chiropractic Methods in the Prevention and Management of Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders in Occupational Health." This results from the collaboration between the WHO and the WFC.
Acceptance of the WFC was strongly supported by a number of large non-governmental organizations such as the World Federation of Public Health Associations, which cited the valuable work of chiropractors in public health associations, and the International Council of Nurses, which spoke of the collaboration and respect between the nursing and chiropractic professions.
NEJM ENDORSES USE OF `HERB'
The New England Journal of Medicine has never been friendly towards herbal medicine. But it thinks highly of one particular herb, which most often gets rolled into funny cigarettes. An editorial (1/31/97) excoriates the government regarding the medical use of marijuana.
"Thousands of patients with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases report they have
obtained striking relief from these devastating symptoms by smoking marijuana.
The alleviation of distress can be so striking," they report, "that some
patients and their families have been willing to risk a jail term to obtain
or grow the marijuana." It mocks HHS Sec. Shalala for giving an "organ
recital" of body parts that could be harmed by marijuana. The journal's
editorialist calls US government policy "misguided, heavy-handed, and
inhumane." Next thing, they'll endorse Essiac tea! Bravo to the NEJM for
its belated entry into the field of "herbal" medicine.