By Hwaa Irfan
For hundreds and thousands of years, mankind when in need of a remedy – a means of returning ill health back into balance has always had some form of natural medicine to turn to when in need. It has served orthodox/mainstream medicine in its infancy by providing 90% of the base material. In the U.S. alone, between 1959 – 1973 25% all prescriptive drugs contained one or more ingredient which was plant-based. Analysis of the top 150 drugs used in the U.S. in 1993 found that 57% of those drugs had bases that derived from biodiversity. In 1997, 11 of the best-selling drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies were derived from natural products, which reaped US$ 17.5 billion. The drug Taxol alone reaped US$ 2.3 billion in 2000. Taxol was derived from the plant Taxus baccata , a conifer more commonly known as the Yew Tree, native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia.
Traditional/natural medicine not only provides an affordable means of reclaiming one’s health, but it also provides control over ones health as an individual. At the same time, it provides nations of the first/developing world the opportunity to recognize the wealth of what they do have instead of reaching out for what they think they do not have, and for those countries to recognize the level of biopiracy which reaps the benefits, while those countries feel compelled to subject themselves to an unaffordable system of health.
The antagonistic attitude towards traditional/natural medicine is a false one rooted in the insecurities of modern medical practitioners and the pharmaceutical industry ignoring that nature or biodiversity has been the source of all medicines including modern medicine. On the therapeutic scale the global spa industry benefited to the tune of US$255 billion in 2007, when the source of that is indigenous to India and China.
Yet now at a time when global governance over the affairs of man have proven a serious inability to take control in the favor of mankind at all levels, the European Union, EU, seeks further incursion into the choices that people take over their own health. Under the umbrella of protectionism, an EU directive aims to “protect” users from any “damaging side-effects” pertaining to unsuitable medicines. The claim is to allow only high quality, long established and scientifically improved herbal medicines be sold over the counter.
Unlike the drugs produced by the major pharmaceutical industries today, herbal remedies has served mankind as an open access knowledge base built upon thousands of years experience and understanding passed down through generations. Unlike herbal remedies, the drugs produced by the major pharmaceutical industries today are closed, often inadequately tested before being out onto the market for public consumption, and through patent protection, limits whatever useful knowledge that could benefit mankind as a whole. In fact the pharmaceutical industries of today take profit over the health of consumers, and far too many drugs have been pulled because of serious side effects including death from the market after using the public as live guinea pigs without informed consent. Where are the regulations that tighten control over the safety and quality of modern drugs some of which are not proven scientifically? Both herbal and modern drugs are subject to unscrupulous practice!
In 2002, the World Health Organization, WHO, created the first global strategy for traditional medicine and therapies. The aim was also to increase safety and efficacy, and to increase safety and efficacy, but it was also to help countries better integrate these therapies into their health care services, not exclude.
“Your fear is big business. Billions and billions are made from the sales of prescription drugs, vaccines and weaponry. Meanwhile cheap health restoring therapies and methods of self-mastery are suppressed. Your fear is needed. Stress and worry diminish health and clear thinking. Desperation increases the possibility of handing over decision making and basic rights to others, who wish to be your god.” – Anja Heij, classical homoeopath, naturopath, Reiki master and writer.
By Public Demand
In the U.S. alone, the success of modern allopathic medicine can be judged as follows:
- 44, 000 – 98,000 people die from medical errors each year
- 180,000 people die due to adverse reaction to medication
- 20,000 – 80,000 die as a result of infections incurred as a result of treatment
In 2004, a quarter of a million patients were admitted to hospital as adverse reactions to drugs in the U.K. at a cost of £466m per year. As the third highest cause of death in 2000 at 225,000 in the U.S., for example, herbal remedies made a comeback after the magic disappeared out of modern allopathic medicine. Even in countries where populations regard modern allopathic medicine as the only medicine there is growing recognition that forms of herbal medicine provide a better, and a more long term solution for their health.
In Canada 2000, 70% of Canadians turn to alternative medicine. In France the most common flu remedy to the dismay of allopathic doctors and the pharmaceutical industry happens to be a homeopathic remedy, which works with the body and not against the body. The French answer to flu for 60 years Oscillococcimum is manufactured in France by Boiron and exported to over 50 countries – in fact Oscillococcimum is one of France’s top 10 selling drugs as of the year 2000.
In developing countries, the choice has always been limited in terms of the more expensive modern allopathic drugs, so herbal medicine has always remained a viable reality. WHO recognized that:
“… in many countries, 80% or more of the population living in rural areas are cared for by traditional practitioners…”
In Bhutan – More than 2990 medicinal plants are used in Bhutanese traditional medicines, and 330 herbal products produced in Bhutan. Despite the colonial branding of African traditional medicine as witchcraft in order to control the sales of traditional medicine during the colonial era, African herbalists have become popular once again in Durban, South Africa attracting 700,000 – 900,000 traders annually from the rest of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
The Real Challenge
The discomfort that modern medical practice has with the challenge presented by all forms of alternative medicine is exampled in the U.K., where there are 5 homeopathic hospitals. Under the new EU directive against herbal remedies, unless it is proven to be scientifically sound, a herb will be banned, yet:
It is only recently that the Chinese herbal remedy Artemisia annua has scientifically been found to be effective against resistant malaria, which is saving grace when faced with genetically modified alternatives. If the Chinese health system employed the same E.U. directive, the lapse of time between using Artemisia annua to help many, and scientific “realization” would mean millions of men, women and children would have been deprived of such a remedy.
Another example is in the case of Sutherlandia microphylla, a South African plant, many HIV sufferers would be deprived of the efficacy of Sutherlandia microphylla, which increases the energy level, appetite and body mass of HIV sufferers.
Likewise, for modern medical practitioners and its advocates, homeopathy remains scientifically unproven yet in Europe, where the homeopathic market will be worth £46m a year by 2012.
“There is no scientific basis for their being effective,”
“There is no reason why they should be effective scientifically.” Professor Jayne Lawrence, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, told the parliamentary select committee.
In a failing national health system that is increasingly financially impossible to maintain homeopathy, which is also practiced by some G.P’s (family health doctors) homeopathy absorbs a tiny fraction of the NHS budget:
“One must ask the committee, will patients then be forced to take conventional medicine at a higher cost?” said Cristal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association to the same parliamentary committee.
Given the global economic factor, and the increasing health and mental health burden that this factor places on Europeans, and given the financial and health burden of modern national health systems, is it not time to go the way that countries like Asia, Pacific Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam have gone, which is a developed alternative healthcare integrated into their health systems? Germans have done quite well by Germany taking that approach, it is about time the EU recognized this as a viable and sustainable alternative, not to eliminate it all together!
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“Homeopathic Remedies: A Real Cure or a Waste of NHS Money?” http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/31/homeopathic-remedies-nhs
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